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Apple $450 Million e-Book Settlement Wins Court Approval

Slashdot - Mon, 04/08/2014 - 00:32
An anonymous reader writes A week after Judge Denise Cote put forward concerns over a proposed settlement with consumers over e-book price-fixing in the iBookstore, she has given Apple preliminary approval for its $450 million settlement. "The proposed settlement agreement is within the range of those that may be approved as fair and reasonable, such that notice to the class is appropriate," Cote said. "Preliminary approval is granted." Cote set a final fairness hearing for Nov. 21.

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How Google Handles 'Right To Be Forgotten' Requests

Slashdot - Sun, 03/08/2014 - 01:04
An anonymous reader writes: In response to an inquiry from European data protection regulators, Google has detailed how they evaluate and act on requests to de-index search results. Google's procedures for responding to "right-to-be-forgotten" requests are explained in a lengthy document that was made publicly available. "Google of course claims its own economic interest does not come into play when making these rtbf judgements — beyond an 'abstract consideration' of a search engine needing to help people find the most relevant information for their query. ... Google also goes into lengthy detail to justify its decision to inform publishers when it has removed links to content on their sites — a decision which has resulted in media outlets writing new articles about delisted content, thereby resulting in the rtbf ruling causing the opposite effect to that intended (i.e. fresh publicity, not fair obscurity)."

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The World's Most Hackable Cars

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 20:51
ancientribe writes: If you're wondering whether the most tech-loaded vehicles are also the most vulnerable to hackers, there is now research that shows it. Charlie Miller, a security engineer with Twitter, and Chris Valasek, director of security intelligence at IOActive, studied modern auto models and concluded that the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, the 2014 Infiniti Q50, and the 2015 Escalade are the most likely to get hacked. The key is whether their networked features that can communicate outside the vehicle are on the same network as the car's automated physical functions. They also name the least-hackable cars, and will share the details of their new findings next week at Black Hat USA in Las Vegas.

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Ask Slashdot: IT Personnel As Ostriches?

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 19:50
MonOptIt writes: I'm a new IT professional, having recently switched from a different sci/tech field. My first gig is with a mid-size (50ish) nonprofit which includes a wide variety of departments and functions. I'm the sole on-site IT support, which means that I'm working with every employee/department regularly both at HQ and off-site locations. My questions for the seasoned pros are: Do you find yourself deliberately ignoring office politics, overheard conversations, open documents or emails, etc as you go about your work? If not, how do you preserve the impartiality/neutrality which seems (to my novice mind) necessary to be effective in this position? In either case: how do you deal with the possibility of accidentally learning something you're not supposed to know? E.g. troubleshooting a user's email program when they've left sensitive/eyes-only emails open on their workstation. Are there protections or policies that are standard, or is this a legal and professional gray-area?

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Fixing a 7,000-Ton Drill

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 18:46
An anonymous reader writes: At the end of last year, we discussed Bertha, the world's largest tunnel boring machine. During an effort to drill a viaduct beneath downtown Seattle, the machine — clocking in at 7,000 tons, 57.5 feet in diameter, and 326 feet long — got hamstrung by an 8-inch-diameter steel pipe. The complexity and scope of the repair plan rivals that of the project itself. "The rescue operation (workers call it "the intervention") began in late spring with construction on the shaft to reach Bertha. Workers have been sinking pilings in a ring to prevent the shaft from collapsing, using 24,000 cubic yards of concrete — enough for a medium-size office building. Once that ring is complete, digging on the shaft will start. When the shaft is ready, Bertha, which is damaged but still operational, will be turned back on so she can chew through the concrete pilings to reach the center of the shaft. There, the machine will rest on a cradle where workers can detach the front end and hoist it out." That detachable front end? It weighs about 2,000 tons by itself. The repair bill is estimated at about $125 million.

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PlayStation Now, Sony's 'Netflix For Games' -- Pros and Cons

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 17:41
An anonymous reader writes: When Sony acquired nascent cloud gaming service Gaikai, it was obvious they were interested in bringing streamed gaming to the PlayStation. The service is in the process of coming online, in a beta test that started this week. The idea is simple, and one that game companies are excited about — but it's also complex and expensive, creating a new problem for each one it solves. The biggest difficulty you'd expect — latency — actually seems to hold up pretty well. It'll even hold its own when fighting for bandwidth with Netflix and other video streams. But the expense of using the service is excessive. "To rent Darksiders, a game that's been practically given away to PC owners thanks to Humble Bundle and the collapse of publisher THQ, you can pay $14.99 for 90 days, $7.99 for 30 days, $5.99 for 5 days or — no joke — $4.99 for four hours. ... Final Fantasy 13-2 costs $29.99 for 90 days. A used copy of the same costs $20 at GameStop." In addition, the pricing options are unusual and unpredictable. Users can't simply pay a flat monthly fee for service. "Variable pricing is in place because Sony gave the publishers and developers free reign to set their own prices, which results in wildly disparate costs for different games and different periods of rental time. It's not even mandatory that you have to have all four categories of rental time. I went to check out Saints Row 3 and found that it only had the four hour and 90 day options."

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The Great Taxi Upheaval

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 16:38
An anonymous reader writes: Uber, Lyft, and a variety of competitors are becoming ubiquitous. Their presence is jarring not because of how different they are from conventional taxis, but simply because they're different at all. Taxis really haven't changed much over the years. Watch a movie from the '90s and you can't help but chuckle at the giant, clunky mobile phones they use. But you can go all the way back to movies from '30s and scenes with taxis won't be unfamiliar. New York Magazine has a series of articles about the taxi revolution currently underway. "So far, Uber appears to be pinching traditional car services—Carmel, Dial 7, and the like—hardest. (They have apps, too, but Uber's is the one you've heard of.) The big question is about the prices for medallions, because so much of the yellow-cab business depends on their future value. ... [I]t's hard to see how those prices won't slip. Medallions, after all, are part of a top-down system formed to fight the abuses and dangers of the old crooked New York: rattletrap cars, overclocked meters, bribed inspectors. Its heavy regulation in turn empowered the taxi lobby and (somewhat) the drivers union. That system may be a pain to deal with, but in its defense, it provided predictability and security. The loosey-goosey libertarian alternative, conceived in the clean Northern California air, calls upon the market to provide checks and balances. A poorly served passenger can, instead of turning to a city agency for recourse, switch allegiances or sue."

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Cell Phone Unlocking Is Legal -- For Now

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 15:35
On Friday President Obama signed into a law a bill allowing mobile devices to be legally unlocked, so that consumers can switch between carriers. The legislation was kicked off by a successful petition on Whitehouse.gov after the Librarian of Congress decided that cell phones no longer needed an exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anti-hacking provision. The legislation (PDF) passed both houses of Congress and is now law. Unfortunately, the new bill doesn't guarantee permanent legality. It simply reinstates the exemption, and leaves the DMCA alone. For the next year, cell phone unlocking will certainly be legal, but after that, the Librarian of Congress once again has the ability to void the exemption once every three years.

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If You're Always Working, You're Never Working Well

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 14:30
An anonymous reader writes: Hard work is almost an axiom in the U.S. — office culture continually rewards people who are at their desks early and stay late, regardless of actual performance. Over the past decade, it's encroached even further into workers' private lives with the advent of smartphones. An article at the Harvard Business Review takes issue with the idea that more work is always better: "When we accept this new and permanent ambient workload — checking business news in bed or responding to coworkers' emails during breakfast — we may believe that we are dedicated, tireless workers. But, actually, we're mostly just getting the small, easy things done. Being busy does not equate to being effective. ... And let's not forget about ambient play, which often distracts us from accomplishing our most important tasks. Facebook and Twitter report that their sites are most active during office hours. After all, the employee who's required to respond to her boss on Sunday morning will think nothing of responding to friends on Wednesday afternoon. And research shows (PDF) that these digital derailments are costly: it's not only the minutes lost responding to a tweet but also the time and energy required to 'reenter' the original task." How do we shift business culture to reward effective work more than the appearance of work?

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Critics To FTC: Why Do You Hate In-App Purchasing Freedom?

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 13:26
jfruh writes The FTC has moved aggressively recently against companies that make it too easy for people — especially kids — to rack up huge charges on purchases within apps. But at a dicussion panel sponsored by free-market think tank TechFreedom, critics pushed back. Joshua Wright, an FTC commissioner who dissented in a recent settlement with Apple, says a 15-minute open purchase window produced "obvious and intuitive consumer benefits" and that the FTC "simply substituted its own judgment for a private firm's decision as to how to design a product to satisfy as many users as possible."

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Driverless Buses Ruled Out For London, For Now

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 10:40
An anonymous reader writes The office of the Mayor of London went into a bit of a panic this week after their own paper suggested that driverless buses could appear on the streets of the UK's capital at some point in the next four decades. The Mayor's office went so far as to suggest that they were really talking about driverless underground trains. Even more bizarre was the reaction of the city's taxi drivers' association — whose spokesperson claimed that the failure to deliver 'simple' software tasks such as speech recognition meant there was no chance of driverless buses appearing on London's streets.

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Recipe For Building a Cheap Raspberry Pi Honeypot Network

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 08:02
mask.of.sanity (1228908) writes "Honeypots are the perfect bait for corporate IT shops to detect hackers targeting and already within their networks and now a guide has been published to build a dirt cheap battalion of the devices from Raspberry Pis. "By running honeypots on our internal network, we are able to detect anomalous events. We gain awareness and insight into our network when network hosts interact with a Raspberry Pi honeypot sensor," the author explained."

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DNA Project 'to Make UK World Genetic Research Leader'

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 05:08
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes A project aiming to revolutionise medicine by unlocking the secrets of DNA is under way in centres across England. Prime Minister David Cameron has said it "will see the UK lead the world in genetic research within years". The first genetic codes of people with cancer or rare diseases, out of a target of 100,000, have been sequenced. Experts believe it will lead to targeted therapies and could make chemotherapy "a thing of the past". Just one human genome contains more than three billion base pairs — the building blocks of DNA. Prof Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "I can see a future where genetics is going to come into every bit of medicine from cardiology to oncology to infectious diseases." "Twenty years from now there's going to be a plethora of those, we will have a series of mutations which academics and industry will have developed therapies for, which will be targeted at you and specific for that cancer." He said chemotherapy, which attacks all dividing cells in the body, would be replaced with such therapies. "We will look back in 20 years' time and think of blockbuster chemotherapy [as] a thing of the past and we'll think 'Gosh, what an era that was'." David Cameron has announced a series of investments across government, industry and charities totalling £300m ($500m).

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Law Repressing Social Media, Bloggers Now In Effect In Russia

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 02:18
An anonymous reader writes On Friday, Russia implemented a new law that significantly limits its citizens' online free speech. Under this new law, social media sites must "retain user data for at least six months...within the country's boundaries so it can be available for government inspection." Also, "bloggers with at least 3,000 daily readers must register with Roskomnadzor, the regulator that also oversees Russia's main media outlets." This, of course, means that popular bloggers will no longer be able to remain anonymous.

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Georgia Tech Researchers Jailbreak iOS 7.1.2

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 00:42
mikejuk writes The constant war to jailbreak and patch iOS has taken another step in favor of the jailbreakers. Georgia Tech researchers have found a way to jailbreak the current version of iOS. What the Georgia Tech team has discovered is a way to break in by a multi-step attack. After analysing the patches put in place to stop previous attacks, the team worked out a sequence that would jailbreak any modern iPhone. The team stresses the importance of patching all of the threats, and not just closing one vulnerability and assuming that it renders others unusable as an attack method. It is claimed that the hack works with any iOS 7.1.2 using device including the iPhone 5s.It is worth noting that the The Device Freedom Prize for an open source jailbreak of iOS7 is still unclaimed and stands at just over $30,000. The details are to be revealed at the forthcoming Black Hat USA (August 6 & 7 Las Vegas) in a session titled Exploiting Unpatched iOS Vulnerabilities for Fun and Profit:

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Google+ Photos To Be Separated From Google+

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 00:00
An anonymous reader writes "Speculation on the eventual shuttering of Google+ has once more risen with news that Google+ Photos will soon be developed and run separately from the social media site. This news follows observations that Google+ "was barely mentioned at Google I/O 2014, while there were 15 sessions dedicated to the service in 2013" and that the company has ended its controversial real name policy. Google Hangouts was also separated from Google+ at the end of July." I've actually heard several people praising Google+ lately; scaling it back to "just a social stream" probably fits into some kind of corollary to Murphy's Law.

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Elon Musk Promises 100,000 Electric Cars Per Year

Slashdot - Fri, 01/08/2014 - 21:14
Dave Knott sends this news from the CBC: Tesla stock was up five per cent on Friday morning after CEO Elon Musk said the electric-car company would deliver 100,000 vehicles next year. Its earnings report released Thursday shows Tesla continues to operate at a loss as it spends on engineering and setting up an assembly line for its Model X SUV, which is scheduled to go into production early next year. But investors were cheered by the news that the company would deliver 100,000 vehicles next year, up from 22,000 in 2013 and a projected 35,000 this year. Tesla reported a loss of $61.9 million in its second quarter, compared with a loss of $30.5 million in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue nearly doubled to $769.3 million, missing Wall Street's forecast of $801.9 million, but expenses were also up as Tesla prepares some ambitious projects, spending $93 million in the quarter on research and development alone. While the Model X is in development, the longer-term plan is for a cheaper, mass-market car, the Model 3, to be launched in 2017. The biggest investment Tesla will make is in its large lithium-ion production plant, to be built at an as-yet-unnamed U.S. location in a $5-billion partnership with Panasonic.

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Fooling a Mercedes Into Autonomous Driving With a Soda Can

Slashdot - Fri, 01/08/2014 - 20:30
New submitter Petrut Malaescu writes: Last year Mercedes introduced an intelligent Lane Assist system to its S-class, which is cataloged as a Level 1 "Function-specific Automation" system. In other words, hands and feet must always be on the controls. But a clever driver discovered that all it takes to keep the car in Lane Assist mode is a soda can taped to the steering wheel. It's enough to trigger the steering wheel sensor that's supposed to detect the driver's hands. Obviously, it's not a good idea to try this on a busy highway.

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Getting Back To Coding

Slashdot - Fri, 01/08/2014 - 19:47
New submitter rrconan writes I always feel like I'm getting old because of the constant need to learn a new tools to do the same job. At the end of projects, I get the impression that nothing changes — there are no real benefits to the new tools, and the only result is a lot of time wasted learning them instead of doing the work. We discussed this last week with Andrew Binstock's "Just Let Me Code" article, and now he's written a follow-up about reducing tool complexity and focusing on writing code. He says, "Tool vendors have several misperceptions that stand in the way. The first is a long-standing issue, which is 'featuritis': the tendency to create the perception of greater value in upgrades by adding rarely needed features. ... The second misperception is that many tool vendors view the user experience they offer as already pretty darn good. Compared with tools we had 10 years ago or more, UIs have indeed improved significantly. But they have not improved as fast as complexity has increased. And in that gap lies the problem.' Now I understand that what I thought of as "getting old" was really "getting smart."

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Hotel Chain Plans Phone-Based Check-in and Room Access

Slashdot - Fri, 01/08/2014 - 19:04
GTRacer writes: Forbes reports that Hilton Worldwide, international hotel operator, is rolling out smartphone-based guest tools allowing self-service check-in, access to a virtual floorplan to select a room, and (in 2015) actual door access once checked in. The author states the drive for this technology is the growing influence of the swelling ranks of Millennials, who "[...] have a very strong inclination toward automated and self-service customer service." The security risks seem obvious, though.

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