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Updated: 1 hour 19 min ago

Open Consultation Begins On Italy's Internet Bill of Rights

Wed, 29/10/2014 - 06:19
Anita Hunt (lissnup) writes: Hot on the heels of Brazil's recent initiative in this area, Italy has produced a draft [PDF] Declaration of Internet Rights, and on Monday opened the bill for consultation on the Civici [Italian] platform, a first in Europe. "[A]s it is now, it consists of a preamble and 14 articles that span several pages. Topics range from the 'fundamental right to Internet access' and Net Neutrality to the notion of 'informational self-determination.' The bill also includes provisions on the right to anonymity and tackles the highly debated idea of granting online citizens a 'right to be forgotten.' Measures are taken against algorithmic discriminations and the opacity of the terms of service devised by 'digital platform operators' who are 'required to behave honestly and fairly' and, most of all, give 'clear and simple information on how the platform operates.'"

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Largest Sunspot In a Quarter Century Spews Flares

Wed, 29/10/2014 - 05:06
schwit1 writes: The largest sunspot seen in about a quarter century has produced another powerful X-class flare today, the sixth in less than a week. "This was the sixth X-class solar flare from NOAA 2192, a record for the number of X-class flares generated by a single group so far this solar cycle. It was also the fourth X-class flare since last Friday, continuing a period of intense flaring activity. This sunspot group has grown again a bit, and maintains its magnetic complexity. A degradation of the HF radio-communication was observed over South-America, the Caribbean, and West-Africa." The last sentence is referring to some radio communications blackouts that have occurred in these areas because of the flares.

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Help a Journalist With An NFC Chip Implant Violate His Own Privacy and Security

Wed, 29/10/2014 - 04:12
An anonymous reader writes: His wife thinks he's crazy, but this guy got an NFC chip implanted in his arm, where it will stay for at least a year. He's inviting everyone to come up with uses for it. Especially ones that violate his privacy and security. There must be something better to do than getting into the office or unlocking your work PC. He says, "The chip we are using is the xNTi, an NFC type 2 NTAG216, which is about the size of a grain of rice and is manufactured by the Dutch semiconductor company NXP, maker of the NFC chip for the new iPhone. It is a glass transponder with an operating frequency of 13.56MHz, developed for mass-market applications such as retail, gaming and consumer electronics. ... The chip's storage capacity is pretty limited, the UID (unique identifier) is 7 bytes, while the read/write memory is 888 bytes. It can be secured with a 32-bit password and can be overwritten about 100,000 times, by which point the memory will be quite worn. Data transmission takes place at a baud rate of 106 kbit/s and the chip is readable up to 10 centimeters, though it is possible to boost that distance."

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Tech Giants Donate $750 Million In Goods and Services To Underprivileged Schools

Wed, 29/10/2014 - 02:00
mrspoonsi sends news that a group of major tech companies has combined to donate $750 million worth of gadgets and services to students in 114 schools across the U.S. Apple is sending out $100 million worth of iPads, MacBooks, and other products. O'Reilly Media is making $100 million worth of educational content available for free. Microsoft and Autodesk are discounting software, while Sprint and AT&T are offering free wireless service. This is part of the ConnectED Initiative, a project announced by the Obama Administration last year to bring modern technology to K-12 classrooms. The FCC has also earmarked $2 billion to improve internet connectivity in schools and libraries over the next two years. Obama also plans to seek funding for training teachers to utilize this infusion of technology.

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Antares Rocket Explodes On Launch

Tue, 28/10/2014 - 23:40
sneakyimp writes: The Antares rocket operated by Orbital Sciences Corporation exploded on launch due to a "catastrophic anomaly" after a flawless countdown. No injuries are reported and all personnel are accounted for. According to the audio stream hosted by local news affiliate WTVR's website, the Cygnus spacecraft contained classified crypto technology and efforts are being made to cordon off the wreckage area. Additionally, interviews of personnel and witness reports are to be limited to appropriate government agencies so that an accident report can be generated. This accident is likely to have a detrimental effect on the stock price of Orbital Sciences Corp, traded on the NYSE. The Antares rocket's engines are based on old soviet designs from the '60s. While this is sure to be a blow to NASA due to the cost, it may well boost the fortunes of SpaceX, a chief competitor of Orbital Sciences. Both companies were recently awarded resupply contracts by NASA.

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US Post Office Increases Secret Tracking of Mail

Tue, 28/10/2014 - 23:21
HughPickens.com writes: Ron Nixon reports in the NY Times that the United States Postal Service says it approved nearly 50,000 requests last year from law enforcement agencies and its own internal inspection unit to secretly monitor the mail of Americans for use in criminal and national security investigations, in many cases without adequately describing the reason or having proper written authorization. In addition to raising privacy concerns, the audit questioned the efficiency and accuracy of the Postal Service in handling the requests. The surveillance program, officially called mail covers, is more than a century old, but is still considered a powerful investigative tool. The Postal Service said that from 2001 through 2012, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies made more than 100,000 requests to monitor the mail of Americans. That would amount to an average of some 8,000 requests a year — far fewer than the nearly 50,000 requests in 2013 that the Postal Service reported in the audit (PDF). In Arizona in 2011, Mary Rose Wilcox, a Maricopa County supervisor, discovered that her mail was being monitored by the county's sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Wilcox had been a frequent critic of Arpaio, objecting to what she considered the targeting of Hispanics in his immigration sweeps. Wilcox sued the county, was awarded nearly $1 million in a settlement in 2011 and received the money this June when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling. Andrew Thomas, the former county attorney, was disbarred for his role in investigations into the business dealings of Ms. Wilcox and other officials and for other unprofessional conduct. "I don't blame the Postal Service," says Wilcox, "but you shouldn't be able to just use these mail covers to go on a fishing expedition. There needs to be more control."

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Location of Spilled Oil From 2010 Deepwater Horizon Event Found

Tue, 28/10/2014 - 22:36
Chipmunk100 writes: A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (abstract) claims to have identified the location of two million barrels of submerged oil thought to be trapped in the deep ocean following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. By analyzing data from more than 3,000 samples collected at 534 locations over 12 expeditions, they identified a 1,250-square-mile patch of the deep sea floor upon which 2 to 16 percent of the discharged oil was deposited. The fallout of oil to the sea floor created thin deposits most intensive to the southwest of the Macondo well. The oil was most concentrated within the top half inch of the sea floor and was patchy even at the scale of a few feet."

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Google Developing a Pill To Detect Cancer

Tue, 28/10/2014 - 21:52
An anonymous reader writes: The Google X research lab has unveiled a new project: developing a pill capable of detecting cancer, imminent heart attacks, and other diseases. According to the article, "the company is fashioning nanoparticles—particles about one billionth of a meter in width—that combine a magnetic material with antibodies or proteins that can attach to and detect other molecules inside the body." When a person ingests the pill, these particles interact with the particular markers for a given disease. Since they're magnetic, they can then be guided back to a particular spot where they can be scanned to determine if any interactions took place. Google X's head of life sciences, Andrew Conrad, said, "What we are trying to do is change medicine from reactive and transactional to proactive and preventative. Nanoparticles... give you the ability to explore the body at a molecular and cellular level."

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Ken Ham's Ark Torpedoed With Charges of Religious Discrimination

Tue, 28/10/2014 - 21:08
McGruber writes: Back on February 4, "Science Guy" Bill Nye debated Creationist Kenneth Alfred "Ken" Ham. That high-profile debate helped boost support for Ham's $73 million "Ark Encounter" project, allowing Ham to announce on February 25 that a municipal bond offering had raised enough money to begin construction. Nye said he was "heartbroken and sickened for the Commonwealth of Kentucky" after learning that the project would move forward. Nye said the ark would eventually draw more attention to the beliefs of Ham's ministry, which preaches that the Bible's creation story is a true account, and as a result, "voters and taxpayers in Kentucky will eventually see that this is not in their best interest." In July, the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority unanimously approved $18.25 million worth of tax incentives to keep the ark park afloat. The funds are from a state program that allows eligible tourism attractions a rebate of as much as 25 percent of the investment in the project. Since then, the Ark Park's employment application has became public: "Nestled among the requirements for all job applicants were three troubling obligatory documents: 'Salvation testimony,' 'Creation belief statement,' and a 'Confirmation of your agreement with the AiG statement of faith.' (AiG is Answers in Genesis, Ham's ministry and Ark Encounter's parent company.)" That caused the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet to halt its issuance of tax incentives for the ark park. Bob Stewart, secretary of the cabinet, wrote to Ham that "the Commonwealth does not provide incentives to any company that discriminates on the basis of religion and we will not make any exception for Ark Encounter, LLC." Before funding could proceed, Stewart explained, "the Commonwealth must have the express written assurance from Ark Encounter, LLC that it will not discriminate in any way on the basis of religion in hiring." The ark park has not yet sunk. It is "still pending before the authority" and a date has not yet been set for the meeting where final approval will be considered.

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We Are All Confident Idiots

Tue, 28/10/2014 - 20:25
An anonymous reader writes: If you've ever heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect, you'll be familiar with David Dunning, professor of psychology at Cornell. He's written an article on the "psychology of human wrongness," explaining how confidence in one's answers tends to be high for people who don't know what they're talking about. He says, "What's curious is that, in many cases, incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge." Dunning goes on: "A whole battery of studies conducted by myself and others have confirmed that people who don't know much about a given set of cognitive, technical, or social skills tend to grossly overestimate their prowess and performance, whether it's grammar, emotional intelligence, logical reasoning, firearm care and safety, debating, or financial knowledge. College students who hand in exams that will earn them Ds and Fs tend to think their efforts will be worthy of far higher grades; low-performing chess players, bridge players, and medical students, and elderly people applying for a renewed driver's license, similarly overestimate their competence by a long shot."

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OpenBSD Drops Support For Loadable Kernel Modules

Tue, 28/10/2014 - 19:43
jones_supa writes: The OpenBSD developers have decided to remove support for loadable kernel modules from the BSD distribution's next release. Several commits earlier this month stripped out the loadable kernel modules support. Phoronix's Michael Larabel has not yet found an official reason for the decision to drop support. He wagers that it is due to security or code quality/openness ideals.

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FTC Sues AT&T For Throttling 'Unlimited' Data Plan Customers Up To 90%

Tue, 28/10/2014 - 19:01
An anonymous reader writes The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today announced it is suing AT&T. The commission is charging the carrier for allegedly misleading millions of its smartphone customers by changing the terms while customers were still under contract for "unlimited" data plans that were, well, limited. "AT&T promised its customers 'unlimited' data, and in many instances, it has failed to deliver on that promise," FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement. "The issue here is simple: 'unlimited' means unlimited." How apropos.

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Can Ello Legally Promise To Remain Ad-Free?

Tue, 28/10/2014 - 18:22
Bennett Haselton writes: Social networking company Ello has converted itself to a Public Benefit Corporation, bound by a charter saying that they will not now, nor in the future, make money by running advertisements or selling user data. Ello had followed these policies from the outset, but skeptics worried that venture capitalist investors might pressure Ello to change those policies, so this binding commitment was meant to assuage those fears. But is the commitment really legally binding and enforceable down the road? Read on for the rest.

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Ask Slashdot: Unlimited Data Plan For Seniors?

Tue, 28/10/2014 - 17:41
New submitter hejman08 writes with a question probably faced by many whose parents, grandparents, and other relatives rely on them for tech support and advice, specifically one about finding an appropriate data plan for his grandmother, of whom he writes: She is on her own plan through Verizon with 1GB of data, and she literally blows through it in three days or less every month, then complains about having nothing to do. They have Wi-Fi at her senior center, but only in specific rooms, and she has bad ankles and knees so she wants to stay home. Internet service would cost 80 a month to add where she lives. What I am wondering, is if any of the genius slashdotters out there know of a plan that- regardless of cost of phone, which we could manage as a gift to her, once- would allow her to have at least 300 minutes, 250 texts, and truly unlimited data (as in none of that Unlimited* stuff that is out there where they drop you to caveman speeds within a gig of usage), all for the price of less than say, 65 a month? The big 4 carriers don't seem to have anything that would work for her. What would you recommend? (I might start with a signal repeater in a utility closet, myself, or some clandestine CAT5 from a friendly neighbor's place.)

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Why CurrentC Will Beat Out Apple Pay

Tue, 28/10/2014 - 16:59
itwbennett writes Working closely with VISA, Apple solved many complex security issues making in-person payments safer than ever. But it's that close relationship with the credit card companies that may be Apple Pay's downfall. A competing solution called CurrentC has recently gained a lot of press as backers of the project moved to block NFC payments (Apple Pay, Google Wallet, etc.) at their retail terminals. The merchants designing or backing CurrentC reads like a greatest hits list of retail outfits and leading the way is the biggest of them all, Walmart. The retailers have joined together to create a platform that is independent of the credit card companies and their profit-robbing transaction fees. Hooking directly to your bank account rather than a credit or debit card, CurrentC will use good old ACH to transfer money from your account to the merchant's bank account at little to no cost.

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OEM Windows 7 License Sales End This Friday

Tue, 28/10/2014 - 16:17
colinneagle writes This Friday is Halloween, but if you try to buy a PC with Windows 7 pre-loaded after that, you're going to get a rock instead of a treat. Microsoft will stop selling Windows 7 licenses to OEMs after this Friday and you will only be able to buy a machine with Windows 8.1. The good news is that business/enterprise customers will still be able to order PCs 'downgraded' to Windows 7 Professional. Microsoft has not set an end date for when it will cut off Windows 7 Professional to OEMs, but it will likely be a while. This all fits in with typical Microsoft timing. Microsoft usually pulls OEM supply of an OS a year after it removes it from retail. Microsoft cut off the retail supply of Windows 7 in October of last year, although some retailers still have some remaining stock left. If the analytics from Steam are any indicator, Windows 8 is slowly working its way into the American public, but mostly as a Windows XP replacement. Windows 7, both 32-bit and 64-bit, account for 59% of their user base. Windows 8 and 8.1 account for 28%, while XP has dwindled to 4%.

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XYZPrinting Releases All-In-One 3D Printer With Internal Laser Scanner

Tue, 28/10/2014 - 15:36
Lucas123 writes XYZPrinting today released the first 3D printer with embedded scanner that has the ability to replicate objects between 2-in and 6-in in size and print objects of up to 7.8-in square from .stl files. The printer's retailing for $799. A review of the new da Vinci 1.0 AiO all-in-one 3D printer revealed the 3D scanning capability, which is supposed to have a .05mm resolution, captures overall size and some finer features of an object but it falls short when it comes to precise details; thin protrusions and through-object holes are often missed in a scan. The mechanics — the printing head, two laser scanning/camera pods and turntable, and the motorized print table — are fully enclosed in a sleek-looking blue and white cubical case with a large transparent, hinged-front door. The front of the printer has a simple push button keypad for traversing a menu on a 2.6-in LCD black-and-white display. The printer is about 18-in. x 20-in. x 22-in. in size and weighs 60.6 lbs. While this is a desktop printer, it takes up a sizeable amount of room on your desk. It can print with either ABS or PLA thermopolymer.

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It's Official: HTML5 Is a W3C Standard

Tue, 28/10/2014 - 14:54
rjmarvin (3001897) writes The Worldwide Web Consortium today has elevated the HTML5 specification to 'recommendation' status , giving it the group's highest level of endorsement, which is akin to becoming a standard. The W3C also introduced Application Foundations with the announcement of the HTML5 recommendation to aid developers in writing Web applications, and said the organization is working with patents holders of the H.264 codec to agree on a baseline royalty-free interoperability level commitment.

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Microsoft Works On Windows For ARM-Based Servers

Tue, 28/10/2014 - 14:13
SmartAboutThings writes According to some reports from the industry, Microsoft is working on a version of its software for servers that run on chips based on ARM Holdings's technology. Windows Server now runs on Intel hardware, but it seems that Redmond wants to diversify its strategy. An ARM-based version of Windows Server could help challenge Intel's dominance and make a place for ARM in the server market, not only in mobile chips. According to the article, though, Microsoft "hasn’t yet decided whether to make the software commercially available."

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Alienware's Triangular Area-51 Re-Design With Tri-SLI GeForce GTX 980, Tested

Tue, 28/10/2014 - 13:33
MojoKid writes Dell's Alienware division recently released a radical redesign of their Area-51 gaming desktop. With 45-degree angled front and rear face plates that are designed to direct control and IO up toward the user, in addition to better directing cool airflow in, while warm airflow is directed up and away from the rear of the chassis, this triangular-shaped machine grabs your attention right away. In testing and benchmarks, the Area-51's new design enables top-end performance with thermal and acoustic profiles that are fairly impressive versus most high-end gaming PC systems. The chassis design is also pretty clean, modular and easily servicable. Base system pricing isn't too bad, starting at $1699 with the ability to dial things way up to an 8-core Haswell-E chip and triple GPU graphics from NVIDIA and AMD. The test system reviewed at HotHardware was powered by a six-core Core i7-5930K chip and three GeForce GTX 980 cards in SLI. As expected, it ripped through the benchmarks, though the price as configured and tested is significantly higher.

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