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Snowden Used the Linux Distro Designed For Internet Anonymity

Slashdot - Tue, 15/04/2014 - 20:42
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "When Edward Snowden first emailed Glenn Greenwald, he insisted on using email encryption software called PGP for all communications. Now Klint Finley reports that Snowden also used The Amnesic Incognito Live System (Tails) to keep his communications out of the NSA's prying eyes. Tails is a kind of computer-in-a-box using a version of the Linux operating system optimized for anonymity that you install on a DVD or USB drive, boot your computer from and you're pretty close to anonymous on the internet. 'Snowden, Greenwald and their collaborator, documentary film maker Laura Poitras, used it because, by design, Tails doesn't store any data locally,' writes Finley. 'This makes it virtually immune to malicious software, and prevents someone from performing effective forensics on the computer after the fact. That protects both the journalists, and often more importantly, their sources.' The developers of Tails are, appropriately, anonymous. They're protecting their identities, in part, to help protect the code from government interference. 'The NSA has been pressuring free software projects and developers in various ways,' the group says. But since we don't know who wrote Tails, how do we know it isn't some government plot designed to snare activists or criminals? A couple of ways, actually. One of the Snowden leaks show the NSA complaining about Tails in a Power Point Slide; if it's bad for the NSA, it's safe to say it's good for privacy. And all of the Tails code is open source, so it can be inspected by anyone worried about foul play. 'With Tails,' say the distro developers, 'we provide a tongue and a pen protected by state-of-the-art cryptography to guarantee basic human rights and allow journalists worldwide to work and communicate freely and without fear of reprisal.'"

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Humans Are Taking Jobs From Robots In Japan

Slashdot - Tue, 15/04/2014 - 13:51
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Bloomberg reports that humans are taking the place of machines in plants across Japan so workers can develop new skills and figure out ways to improve production lines and the car-building process. "We need to become more solid and get back to basics, to sharpen our manual skills and further develop them," says Mitsuru Kawai, a half century-long company veteran tapped by President Akio Toyoda to promote craftsmanship at Toyota's plants. "When I was a novice, experienced masters used to be called gods (Kami-sama in Japanese), and they could make anything." According to Kawai, learning how to make car parts from scratch gives younger workers insights they otherwise wouldn't get from picking parts from bins and conveyor belts, or pressing buttons on machines. At about 100 manual-intensive workspaces introduced over the last three years across Toyota's factories in Japan, these lessons can then be applied to reprogram machines to cut down on waste and improve processes. In an area Kawai directly supervises at the forging division of Toyota's Honsha plant, workers twist, turn and hammer metal into crankshafts instead of using the typically automated process. Experiences there have led to innovations in reducing levels of scrap and shortening the production line and Kawai also credits manual labor for helping workers improve production of axle beams and cut the costs of making chassis parts. "We cannot simply depend on the machines that only repeat the same task over and over again," says Kawai. "To be the master of the machine, you have to have the knowledge and the skills to teach the machine.""

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Guardian</em> and WaPo</em> Receive Pulitzers For Snowden Coverage

Slashdot - Tue, 15/04/2014 - 13:05
Late Yesterday, the Pulitzer Prize board announced (PDF) the 2014 Pulitzer Prize winners. The public service prize was awarded to the Guardian and the Washington Post. The Washington Post was given the award for its role in revealing widespread surveillance by the NSA, "...marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security," and the Guardian for sparking "...a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy." Snowden released a statement praising the Pulitzer board: "Today's decision is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government. We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognizes was work of vital public importance. This decision reminds us that what no individual conscience can change, a free press can. "

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Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

Slashdot - Tue, 15/04/2014 - 05:04
snydeq (1272828) writes "Microsoft TechNet blog makes clear that Windows 8.1 will not be patched, and that users must get Windows 8.1 Update if they want security patches, InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard reports. 'In what is surely the most customer-antagonistic move of the new Windows regime, Steve Thomas at Microsoft posted a TechNet article on Saturday stating categorically that Microsoft will no longer issue security patches for Windows 8.1, starting in May,' Leonhard writes. 'Never mind that Windows 8.1 customers are still having multiple problems with errors when trying to install the Update. At this point, there are 300 posts on the Microsoft Answers forum thread 'Windows 8.1 Update 1 Failing to Install with errors 0x80070020, 80073712 and 800F081F.' The Answers forum is peppered with similar complaints and a wide range of errors, from 800F0092 to 80070003, for which there are no solutions from Microsoft. Never mind that Microsoft itself yanked Windows 8.1 Update from the corporate WSUS update server chute almost a week ago and still hasn't offered a replacement.'"

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IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt

Slashdot - Tue, 15/04/2014 - 02:59
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Just in time for the April 15 IRS filing deadline comes news from the Washington Post that hundreds of thousands of taxpayers expecting refunds are instead getting letters informing them of tax debts they never knew about: often a debt incurred by their parents. The government is confiscating their checks, sometimes over debts 20—30 years old. For example, when Mary Grice was 4 (in 1960), her father died ... 'Until the kids turned 18, her mother received survivor benefits from Social Security ... Now, Social Security claims it overpaid someone in the Grice family in 1977. ... Four years after Sadie Grice died, the government is coming after her daughter. ... "It was a shock," says Grice, 58. "What incenses me is the way they went about this. They gave me no notice, they can't prove that I received any overpayment, and they use intimidation tactics, threatening to report this to the credit bureaus."' The Treasury Department has intercepted ... $75 million from debts delinquent for more than 10 years according to the department's debt management service. 'The aggressive effort to collect old debts started three years ago — the result of a single sentence tucked into the farm bill lifting the 10-year statute of limitations on old debts to Uncle Sam.'"

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Saturn May Have Given Birth To a Baby Moon

Slashdot - Tue, 15/04/2014 - 01:05
astroengine (1577233) writes "NASA's Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft has imaged something peculiar on the outermost edge of the gas giant's A-ring. A bright knot, or arc, has been spotted 20 percent brighter than the surrounding ring material and astronomers are interpreting it as a gravitational disturbance caused by a tiny moon. "We have not seen anything like this before," said Carl Murray of Queen Mary University of London. 'We may be looking at the act of birth, where this object is just leaving the rings and heading off to be a moon in its own right.'"

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Mozilla Appoints Former Marketing Head Interim CEO

Slashdot - Tue, 15/04/2014 - 00:29
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Following the contentious and ultimately failed appointment of Brendan Eich as CEO last month, the Mozilla Corporation has appointed Chris Beard to the board of directors and made him interim CEO. Beard starting working as chief marketing officer for Mozilla in 2004, and oversaw the launch of its current browser, Firefox, in 2005. Beard also managed the launches of Firefox on Android and the Firefox OS for mobile phones." See the official announcement. Quoting: "We began exploring the idea of Chris joining the Board of Directors some months ago. Chris has been a Mozillian longer than most. He’s been actively involved with Mozilla since before we shipped Firefox 1.0, he’s guided and directed many of our innovative projects, and his vision and sense of Mozilla is equal to anyone’s. I have relied on his judgement and advice for nearly a decade. This is an excellent time for Chris to bring his understanding of Mozilla to the Board."

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First Phase of TrueCrypt Audit Turns Up No Backdoors

Slashdot - Mon, 14/04/2014 - 23:51
msm1267 (2804139) writes "A initial audit of the popular open source encryption software TrueCrypt turned up fewer than a dozen vulnerabilities, none of which so far point toward a backdoor surreptitiously inserted into the codebase. A report on the first phase of the audit was released today (PDF) by iSEC Partners, which was contracted by the Open Crypto Audit Project (OCAP), a grassroots effort that not only conducted a successful fundraising effort to initiate the audit, but raised important questions about the integrity of the software. The first phase of the audit focused on the TrueCrypt bootloader and Windows kernel driver; architecture and code reviews were performed, as well as penetration tests including fuzzing interfaces, said Kenneth White, senior security engineer at Social & Scientific Systems. The second phase of the audit will look at whether the various encryption cipher suites, random number generators and critical key algorithms have been implemented correctly."

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Heartbleed Disclosure Timeline Revealed

Slashdot - Mon, 14/04/2014 - 23:10
bennyboy64 (1437419) writes "Ever since the Heartbleed flaw in OpenSSL was made public there have been various questions about who knew what and when. The Sydney Morning Herald has done some analysis of public mailing lists and talked to those involved with disclosing the bug to get the bottom of it. The newspaper finds that Google discovered Heartbleed on or before March 21 and notified OpenSSL on April 1. Other key dates include Finnish security testing firm Codenomicon discovering the flaw independently of Google at 23:30 PDT, April 3. SuSE, Debian, FreeBSD and AltLinux all got a heads up from Red Hat about the flaw in the early hours of April 7 — a few hours before it was made public. Ubuntu, Gentoo and Chromium attempted to get a heads up by responding to an email with few details about it but didn't, as the guy at Red Hat sending the disclosure messages out in India went to bed. By the time he woke up, Codenomicon had reported the bug to OpenSSL."

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Google Buys Drone Maker Titan Aerospace

Slashdot - Mon, 14/04/2014 - 21:00
garymortimer (1882326) writes "Google has acquired drone maker Titan Aerospace. Titan is a New Mexico-based company that makes high-flying solar powered drones. There's no word on the price Google paid, but Facebook had been in talks to acquire the company earlier this year for a reported $60 million. Presumably, Google paid more than that to keep it away from Facebook. 'Google had just recently demonstrated how its Loon prototype balloons could traverse the globe in a remarkably short period of time, but the use of drones could conceivably make a network of Internet-providing automotons even better at globe-trotting, with a higher degree of control and ability to react to changing conditions. Some kind of hybrid system might also be in the pipeline that marries both technologies.'"

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Will This Flying Car Get Crowdfunded?

Slashdot - Mon, 14/04/2014 - 20:18
cartechboy (2660665) writes "We all just have too much money on our hands, and we really want a flying car, right? Well that's what Skylys thinks, as it's trying to crowdfund a flying car. According to its website, 'In detail we aim to create an urban dual-mode, hybrid flight and electric drive motorized vehicle that fits into sustainable mobility.' How much money does it need? Oh about $3,111,075. Apparently the company has run out of money and needs more to 'start construction on our two prototypes to confirm our technical specifications; pay the chaps in the legal department; industrial engineers and take up occupancy of our future offices in Silicon Valley, where our backers can of course pay us a visit.'"

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Reviving a Commodore 64 Computer Using a Raspberry Pi

Slashdot - Mon, 14/04/2014 - 19:35
concertina226 (2447056) writes "A group of Commodore fans are working on a new emulator with the ability to turn the Raspberry Pi £30 computer into a fully functioning Commodore 64 fresh from the 1980s. Scott Hutter, creator of the Commodore Pi project, together with a team of developers on Github, are seeking to build a native Commodore 64 operating system that can run on Raspberry Pi. 'The goal will be to include all of the expected emulation features such as SID sound, sprites, joystick connectivity, REU access, etc. In time, even the emulation speed could be changed, as well as additional modern graphics modes,' he writes on his website."

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Inside the Stolen Smartphone Black Market In London

Slashdot - Mon, 14/04/2014 - 18:53
First time accepted submitter WebAgeCaveman (3615807) writes in with news about just how big the stolen smartphone black market is. "A black market of shops and traders willing to deal in stolen smartphones has been exposed by a BBC London undercover investigation. Intelligence was received that some shops across a swathe of east London were happy to buy phones from thieves. Two traders were filmed buying Samsung S3 and iPhone 4 devices from a researcher posing as a thief - despite him making it clear they were stolen. The shops involved have declined to comment."

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Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"

Slashdot - Mon, 14/04/2014 - 13:04
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Jenny McCarthy is claiming she has been misunderstood and is not anti-vaccine. In an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times, McCarthy tries to ignore everything she's been saying about vaccines for years and wipe the record clean. 'People have the misconception that we want to eliminate vaccines,' McCarthy told Time magazine science editor Jeffrey Kluger in 2009. 'Please understand that we are not an anti-vaccine group. We are demanding safe vaccines. We want to reduce the schedule and reduce the toxins.' But Kluger points out that McCarthy left the last line out of that quotation: 'If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f--king measles.' That missing line rather changes the tone of her position considerably, writes Phil Plait and is a difficult stance to square with someone who is not anti-vaccine. As Kluger points out, her entire premise is false; since vaccines don't cause autism, no one has to make the choice between measles (and other preventable, dangerous diseases) and autism. Something else McCarthy omitted from her interview with Kluger: 'I do believe sadly it's going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe,' said McCarthy. 'If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it's their f*cking fault that the diseases are coming back. They're making a product that's sh*t. If you give us a safe vaccine, we'll use it. It shouldn't be polio versus autism.' Kluger finishes with this: 'Jenny, as outbreaks of measles, mumps and whooping cough continue to appear in the U.S.—most the result of parents refusing to vaccinate their children because of the scare stories passed around by anti-vaxxers like you—it's just too late to play cute with the things you've said.' For many years McCarthy has gone on and on and on and on and on and on about vaccines and autism. 'She can claim all she wants that she's not anti-vax,' concludes Plait, 'but her own words show her to be wrong.'"

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44% of Twitter Users Have Never Tweeted

Slashdot - Mon, 14/04/2014 - 10:03
First time accepted submitter RileyWalz (3614865) writes "Twopcharts (a third party website that records and monitors activity on Twitter) is reporting that about 44 percent of all 947 million accounts on Twitter have never posted a single tweet. Of the 550 million users who have tweeted before, 43 percent posted their last tweet over a year ago. And only about 13.3 percent have tweeted in the last 30 days. This could be a sign of many users just signing up and forgetting about their account, or they just prefer reading other's posts. Twitter is not commenting on this data, saying that they do not talk about third-party information related to its service."

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First Glow-In-the-Dark Road Debuts In Netherlands

Slashdot - Mon, 14/04/2014 - 07:02
An anonymous reader writes "A 500 meter (0.3 mile) stretch of road in the Netherlands has opened without the standard crop of streetlights lining its perimeter. The streetlights are believed to be unnecessary since the road markings were painted on with a mix of photo-luminescent powder, which absorbs sunlight during the day and radiates a portion of that energy back at night. Whether the modified road paint can withstand harsh weather or even provide sufficient lighting given insufficient exposure to sunlight during the day remains to be seen. The project was orchestrated by Studio Roosegaarde, which in the future plans to implement weather-sensitive road markings that would inform drivers when outside temperatures drop or rise above certain levels."

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Seattle Bookstores Embrace Amazon.com

Slashdot - Mon, 14/04/2014 - 03:55
An anonymous reader writes "Even though many independent bookstores around the country blame their closing on competition from Amazon.com, bookstores in Seattle are booming thanks to Amazon's growth. It turns out many of the thousands of new workers at their downtown headquarters are avid readers who prefer shopping at the local stores. '"A lot of our customers work at Amazon," said Tracy Taylor, the general manager at the Elliott Bay Book Company, one of the city's largest independent booksellers. The store, about a mile from Amazon headquarters, last year earned what Ms. Taylor called the "first substantial profit" in almost 20 years, enough to even pay employee bonuses.'"

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Pluto May Have Deep Seas and Ancient Tectonic Faults

Slashdot - Mon, 14/04/2014 - 01:50
astroengine (1577233) writes "In July 2015 we get our first close look at the dwarf planet Pluto and its moon, Charon — a fact that has scientists hypothesizing more than ever about what we might see there. One of the latest ideas put forward is that perhaps the collision that likely formed Pluto and Charon heated the interior of Pluto enough to give it an internal liquid water ocean, which also gave the small world a short-lived plate tectonics system, like that of Earth."

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Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

Slashdot - Sun, 13/04/2014 - 20:00
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "Over at Starts With A Bang, the weekly question comes in from Germany, where we're informed: 'In Germany, many teachers have adopted a new way of teaching children to write properly. The way is called "Writing by Reading" and essentially says: Write as you wish, you're not bound by any rules. Recently, this way of teaching has been heavily criticized [link in German], but not before it has been "tested" on several years of school children.' The reading wars have been going on in the US, too, but will this wind up having a negative outcome? Or, as this piece argues, is it likely to be a wash?"

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Private Keys Stolen Within Hours From Heartbleed OpenSSL Site

Slashdot - Sun, 13/04/2014 - 18:56
Billly Gates (198444) writes "It was reported when heartbleed was discovered that only passwords would be at risk and private keys were still safe. Not anymore. Cloudfare launched the heartbleed challenge on a new server with the openSSL vulnerability and offered a prize to whoever could gain the private keys. Within hours several researchers and a hacker got in and got the private signing keys. Expect many forged certificates and other login attempts to banks and other popular websites in the coming weeks unless the browser makers and CA's revoke all the old keys and certificates."

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