DavidGilbert99 writes "It was the malware which affected as many Apple computers as the Conficker worm affected Windows PCs and earned its creator up to $10,000 per day. Until now, no one know who was behind the Flashback Trojan which hit 650,000 computers last year, but security researcher Brian Krebs has managed to uncover the creator as a 30-year-old Russian cyber criminal."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "MIT announced that despite a long history of running an open network (so that any student can run a server on any port, without any questions asked), it will now end this policy due to recent denial-of-service attacks and gunman hoax. From a letter sent by Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz: 'I am deeply and personally committed to safeguarding our community, protecting our campus and securing our systems. Together with our colleagues dedicated to campus safety and security, with the support of senior academic leadership and in collaboration with the campus community, we are deploying all necessary resources to this effort. It will require the dedication of all of us to promote safety awareness, complete necessary emergency training, and adhere to reinforced cyber security guidelines. IS&T staff members are working with information technology (IT) leadership and partners across campus in making the changes described above. We continue to explore all opportunities to further strengthen our preparedness, and will communicate additional information as these plans evolve.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Google on Wednesday made a huge announcement to fork WebKit and build a new rendering engine called Blink. Opera, which only recently decided to replace its own Presto rendering engine for WebKit, has confirmed with TNW that it will be following suit. 'When we announced the move away from Presto, we announced that we are going with the Chromium package, and the forking and name change have little practical influence on the Opera browsers. So yes, your understanding is correct,' an Opera spokesperson told TNW. This will affect both desktop and mobile versions of Opera the spokesperson further confirmed."
coondoggie writes "New federal restrictions now preclude four U.S. agencies from buying information-technology (IT) systems from manufacturers 'owned, directed or subsidized by the People's Republic of China' due to national-security concerns. But is this a smart tactic? It's clear that some in the U.S. government, including the House Intelligence Committee — which issued a scathing report last fall that called Huawei and ZTE a threat to national security — and the Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. are also working in other ways behind the scenes to keep technology made by China-based manufacturers out of U.S. commercial networks as well."
littlekorea writes "Mining companies are developing new systems for automating blasting of iron ore using the same open source physics engines adapted for games such as Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption. The same engine that determines 3D collision detection and soft body/rigid body dynamics in gaming will be applied to building 3D blast movement models — which will predict where blasted materials will land and distinguish between ore and waste. Predictive blast fragmentation models used in the past have typically been either numerical or empirical, [mining engineer Alan Cocker] said. Numerical models such as discrete element method, he noted, are onerous to configure and demanding of resources — both computing and human — and are generally not appropriate for operational use at mines. 'The problem with empirical models, by contrast, is that they tend to operate at a scale too coarse to give results useful for optimizations,' he added, noting typical Kuz-Ram-based fragmentation models (PDF) (widely used to estimate fragmentation from blasting) assume homogeneous geology (the same type of materials) throughout a blast."
An anonymous reader writes "A bill amendment proposed Tuesday could allow employers to ask for a worker's Facebook or other social media password during company investigations. The provision was proposed for a bill that safeguards social network passwords of workers and job applicants. The measure bars employers from asking for social media credentials during job interviews. The amendment says that an employer conducting an investigation may require or demand access to a personal account if an employee or prospective employee has allegations of work-place misconduct or giving away an employer's proprietary information. The amendment would require an investigation to ensure compliance with applicable laws or regulatory requirements."
Carewolf writes "In a blog post titled Blink: A rendering engine for the Chromium project, Google has announced that Chromium (the open source backend for Chrome) will be switching to Blink, a new WebKit-based web rendering engine. Quoting: 'Chromium uses a different multi-process architecture than other WebKit-based browsers, and supporting multiple architectures over the years has led to increasing complexity for both the WebKit and Chromium projects. This has slowed down the collective pace of innovation... This was not an easy decision. We know that the introduction of a new rendering engine can have significant implications for the web. Nevertheless, we believe that having multiple rendering engines—similar to having multiple browsers—will spur innovation and over time improve the health of the entire open web ecosystem. ... In the short term, Blink will bring little change for web developers. The bulk of the initial work will focus on internal architectural improvements and a simplification of the codebase. For example, we anticipate that we’ll be able to remove 7 build systems and delete more than 7,000 files—comprising more than 4.5 million lines—right off the bat. Over the long term a healthier codebase leads to more stability and fewer bugs.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft on Wednesday released SkyDrive 3.0 for iOS out of the blue. Last time the app was in the news, Apple was stopping Microsoft from pushing out an update in the App Store because the company doesn't pay a 30 percent cut of the subscription revenue it generates. Now we've learned how Microsoft managed to update its iOS app today. 'We worked with Apple to create a solution that benefited our mutual customers,' a Microsoft spokesperson told TNW. 'The SkyDrive app for iOS is slightly different than other SkyDrive apps in that people interested in buying additional storage will do so via the web versus in the app.' Does this set a precedent for an iOS version of Microsoft Office?"
crookedvulture writes "Seagate announced its third-generation hybrid drives last month, revealing a full family of notebook and desktop drives that combine mechanical platters with solid-state storage. These so-called SSHDs are Seagate's first to be capable of caching write requests in addition to reads, and the mobile variants are already selling online. Unfortunately, a closer look at the Laptop Thin SSHD reveals some problems with Seagate's new design. While the integrated flash cache reduces OS and application load times by 30-45%, overall performance appears to be held back by its 5,400-RPM mechanical component. Seagate's last-gen Momentus XT hybrid spins its platters at 7,200-RPM, and it's faster than the new SSHD in a wide range of tests. The upcoming desktop SSHDs will also have 7,200-RPM spindle speeds, so they may prove more appealing than the mobile models."
astroengine writes "A $2 billion particle detector attached to the International Space Station has detected the potential signature of dark matter annihilation in the Cosmos, scientists have announced today. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) was attached to the space station in May 2011 by space shuttle Endeavour — the second-to last shuttle mission to the orbital outpost. Since then, the AMS has been detecting electrons and positrons (the electron's anti-particle) originating from deep space and assessing their energies. By doing a tally of electrons and positrons, physicists hope the AMS will help to answer one of the most enduring mysteries in science: Does dark matter exist? And today, it looks like the answer is a cautious, yet exciting, affirmative."
This is the second of our two-part interview (part one ran yesterday) with Conjurer and Investigator (his words) James Randi, whose organization, the James Randi Education Foundation, has a long-standing offer: prove you have paranormal abilities and they'll give you $1 Million. They say they've recently made this award easier than ever to win. Note that, lower bar or no, Randi claims the last time a conjurer's illusion fooled him was many years ago, when he was very young. It was one done by the famous Chan Canasta -- and Randi claims that in the end he figured it out, anyway. So forget the $1 Million, relax, and enjoy James Randi. He's a great raconteur, so we can all be jealous of interviewer Rob Rozeboom (samzenpus) for having made this great video even as we enjoy watching it.
Last week we announced that co-founder and CEO of Intellectual Ventures, Nathan Myhrvold, had agreed to do a live Q&A. Earlier today we posted a few of his answers, but now's your chance to hear it directly from him. Mr. Myhrvold will be answering your questions below until 12:30 PDT. Please keep it to one question per post so everyone gets a chance. Update: 04/03 19:41 GMT by S : 12:30pm PDT has come and gone, and Mr. Myhrvold has to move on. Thanks for the answers! Here's a link to his user page if you'd just like to read his responses.
An anonymous reader sends news that Disney is closing LucasArts. The game studio has been around since 1982, and brought us classics such as Labyrinth, The Secret of Monkey Island, X-Wing, TIE Fighter, and Star Wars: Battlefront. They also published Star Wars: Galaxies, Knights of the Old Republic, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. The company held a meeting today informing employees of the layoffs. "In some ways, the news is not a surprise. LucasArts had seemed directionless in recent years. The company's core business of games based on the Star Wars license have been largely disappointing in both quality and sales. While the company had some success with games like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and the Battlefront series, both of those franchises seemed to have died on the vine. The cancellation of Star Wars Battlefront III was particularly ugly, which led to nasty public fingerpointing between LucasArts and developer Free Radical. ... LucasArt's other big franchise, Indiana Jones, has failed to make much of a dent in games in recent years, with the exception of Traveller's Tales LEGO Indiana Jones series that, once again, was not developed by LucasArts. Meanwhile, series like Uncharted and Tomb Raider, which are both heavily influenced by the Indiana Jones films, have thrived." If only they hadn't abandoned the X-Wing series of games. I would have bought a new one of those in a heartbeat. Update: 04/04 18:09 GMT by T : Dice.com's news service (Dice.com is the corporate parent of Slashdot) mentions one small silver lining for those employees who stuck it out to the end: the best kind of parting gift. "Soon after the acquisition, a number of people departed LucasArts, deciding the time was right to head out in search of a new job. Many others remained, encouraged to hang on as long as they could by talk of generous severance packages. Sources among those laid off say the packages were, indeed, generous."
An anonymous reader writes with this bit from The Next Web: "Mozilla and Samsung on Wednesday announced a new partnership to build a 'next generation' web browser engine called Servo. The ultimate goal is to bring the technology to Android and ARM, though the two companies have not shared a timeframe for a possible launch. With the help of Samsung, Mozilla is bringing both the Rust programming language as well as Servo to Android and ARM. Samsung's contribution so far has been an ARM backend to Rust as well as the build infrastructure necessary to cross-compile to Android. In fact, the code is available now on GitHub, as is the source for Rust and Servo." For those unfamiliar, Rust is Mozilla's new safe systems programming language (kind of like BitC), and Servo is their general project to write a brand new engine using Rust. Rust has an interesting memory model that eliminates much difficulty in reasoning about threaded programs. If you know what you're doing, they claim you can cross compile the code for Android, but no functionality guarantees have been made.
Last week you had a chance to ask co-founder and CEO of Intellectual Ventures, Nathan Myhrvold, questions before his live Q&A. Below you'll find his answers to a few of the highest rated. Make sure you come back today from 12-12:30pm PDT (3-3:30pm ET, 19:00-19:30 GMT) to ask him whatever you like in real time. We'll have a new story for your questions at that time.
Nerval's Lobster writes "After defeating a shareholder insurrection that largely stemmed from how it handled the Autonomy acquisition, Hewlett-Packard is trying to resuscitate the fortunes of that troubled analytics-software unit. In an interview, Robert Youngjohns, General Manager of the Autonomy division for HP, conceded that the controversy surrounding the acquisition and its aftermath has proven a significant distraction for the company. ... HP's ambitious turnaround plan involves focusing Autonomy technology, which can help find the right data in huge datasets, on areas such as Web content management and information governance. But it's a big question whether HP can overcome all the negative publicity swirling around Autonomy, widely seen as a poor acquisition: Back in November 2012, HP accused Autonomy's management team of using 'accounting improprieties, misrepresentations and disclosure failures to inflate the underlying financial metrics of the company.' It alerted the SEC's Enforcement Division and the United Kingdom's Serious Fraud Office (Autonomy is based in the U.K.), and announced it would take an $8.8 billion write-down on Autonomy's value. That sort of thing could make Autonomy a tough sell to companies still trying to figure out if they even need so-called 'Big Data' tools."
seagirlreed writes "During this year's cicada swarmageddon, make a cicada smorgasbord by selecting the tastiest bugs from the richest cicada hunting grounds. They taste like asparagus!"
An anonymous reader writes "Excerpts from the announcement: 'This release is a giant step forward from the 1.4 release. In this release, we have replaced many deprecated packages and libraries with new technologies available in GLib. We have also added a lot of new features (...) MATE 1.6 is the result of 8 months of intense development and contains 1800 contributions by 39 people, and more than 150 translators.' See the release notes for a list of changes and new features." They've unforked a number of old GNOME 2 libraries, relying instead of technology from GLib/Gtk+ 3 and other projects where it makes sense. None of the new features really stand out on their own, but it looks like there are dozens of small improvements that should make the desktop experience more pleasant.
Trailrunner7 writes "California, which set the standard for data breach notifications nationwide, is again seeking to set a precedent by becoming the first state in the nation to require companies upon request disclose to California consumers the data they've collected and to whom it was shared during the past year. ... The 'Right to Know Act of 2013,' AB 1291 was amended this week to boost its chances of success after being introduced in February by state Assembly member Bonnie Lowenthal. ... It applies to companies that are both on- and off- line Privacy advocacy groups such as the EFF wrote Tuesday that the bill could set a precedent for other states, much as California's 2002 Breach Notification Act requiring California data breach victims be notified was later replicated by almost all U.S. states." That's not all: you'd be able to request a copy of all the data they've stored about you too.
The edX project today announced that they are joining forces with Stanford and releasing the source to edX on June 1st. As part of the platform going Free, Stanford will be integrating features from their Open Source Class2Go project. From Stanford: "Mitchell said that Stanford's Class2Go platform development team has been in contact with the edX team for a number of months, and that much code is already synchronized so that the collaboration between the two platforms will be a smooth one. The advantage will then be 'a larger team building one strong open source platform, rather than two competing open source platforms, which we think will be more desirable for universities around the world,' Mitchell added."
cylonlover writes "Thrifty Samoans looking to take a trip may want to shed a few pounds before booking a flight with Samoan Air after the airline announced the implementation of a 'pay as you weigh' system. Unlike some other airlines that have courted controversy by forcing some obese passengers to purchase two seats, Samoa's national carrier will charge passengers based on their weight." They have a demo fare calculator for the curious.
The_Other_Kelly writes "News that will shock and sadden the many fans of Iain (M.) Banks. He is suffering from gall bladder cancer, and things do not look good: 'The bottom line, now, I'm afraid, is that as a late stage gall bladder cancer patient, I'm expected to live for "several months" and it's extremely unlikely I'll live beyond a year.' His books, both normal and science fiction, are world view warping Excessions, and my heart goes out to him and his. I am shocked and saddened. Thank you, Iain."
An anonymous reader writes with this tidbit from Net Security: "Players of The War Z, a first-person zombie survival game, have been notified of a breach of the developer's forum and game databases and the theft of user data contained in them. 'The data accessed included email addresses used to log-in to the forum, forum passwords which we encrypt, email addresses used to log-in to the game, encrypted game passwords as well as in-game character names and the IP addresses from which players log-in to the forum and to the game,' the developer explained ...There is no mention of what encryption algorithm they use to encrypt the passwords, nor whether they are 'salted,' so their advice to users about immediately changing the passwords they used for the forum and the account is more than fitting."
New submitter Skrapion writes "One month ago, an independent developer submitted patches to the Wayland's Weston compositor which adds support for FreeRDP, an open-source remote desktop protocol. Now, after six revisions, the remote desktop code has been merged into the trunk. While remote desktop has been prototyped in Weston once before by Wayland developer Kristian Høgsberg, this is the first time Wayland/Weston has officially supported the feature. For a summary of why we can expect Wayland's remote desktop to surpass X.Org's network transparency, see Daniel Stone's excellent talk from Linux.conf.au."
theodp writes "If you're a bright kid who wants to prepare for the 21st century workforce (PDF) by studying engineering at Purdue, the government will help your parents pay the $100,000 or so tuition tab with a 7.9% interest loan (plus 4% fees) that's likely to be non-dischargeable in bankruptcy and paid back with after-tax money. If, on the other hand, you want to buy a tricked-out $100,000 Model S, Tesla has teamed up with the government, Wells Fargo, and U.S. Bank on what it calls a 'Revolutionary New Finance Product' that enables those who play the game right to avoid paying sales tax, get the government to pick up the first $15,000 (no down payment needed!), and also receive a 2.95% bankruptcy-dischargeable loan for the balance, the payments for which could be tax-deductible. Yep, 'Revolutionary' may be about right!"
tsamsoniw writes "Emergency-service providers and other organizations are being targeted with TDoS (telephony denial of service) attacks, according to a security alert (PDF) from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, obtained by security expert Brian Krebs. TDoS attacks use high volumes of automated calls to tie up target phone systems, halting incoming and outgoing calls. Perpetrators are using the attacks to extort cash from target organizations, who receive a call from a representative from a purported payday loan company, who demands payment of $5,000 for an outstanding debt — usually speaking in an unspecified 'strong accent.'"
anavictoriasaavedra writes "Adafruit Industries just posted the first episode in a new educational series aimed at teaching kids about electronics. The episode is entitled 'A is for Ampere' and teaches the basic theory behind electrical current. The subject seems like a common one for A-to-Z themed electrical tutorials. And yes, that's Collin Cunnigham as André-Marie Ampère."
Maximum Prophet writes "While Redigi is illegal, Aereo, the service that allows users to time-shift over-the-air TV programming, isn't. 'We conclude that Aereo's transmissions of unique copies of broadcast television programs created at its users' requests and transmitted while the programs are still airing on broadcast television are not 'public performances' of the plaintiffs' copyrighted works,' said the ruling (PDF). Of course, both decisions are going to be appealed. 'The outcome also answers the question, at least momentarily, of whether online television would be controlled by a stodgy industry that once shunned the VCR, or whether third-party innovators embracing technological advances have a chance to build on the openness of public airwaves. ... Aereo’s technological setup, the court found, basically allows it to do what cable companies could not: retransmit broadcast airwaves without paying licensing fees. In short, the Aereo service is as legal as somebody putting an antenna on top of their house to capture broadcast signals. The court said Aereo “provides the functionality of three devices: a standard TV antenna, a DVR, and a Slingbox” device. “Each of these devices is legal, so it stands to reason that a service that combines them is also legal. Only in the world of copyright maximalists do people need to get special permission to watch over-the-air television with an antenna,” said John Bergmayer, an attorney with the digital-rights group Public Knowledge. “Just because ‘the internet’ is involved doesn’t change this."'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "The Nebula One is being positioned as a 'cloud computer' that can connect preconfigured servers to a private cloud using an OpenStack-based OS. The idea, according to former NASA CIO Chris Kemp, is to spin up a private cloud in as little as an hour. Even so, while a pitch on the company's homepage (narrated by none other than Patrick Stewart) may sound like the company can take any old CPU, storage, and memory resources and combine them together, buyers actually have only a small selection of servers from which to choose. The company's secret sauce is its Nebula Cosmos software, based upon the OpenStack cloud OS, which pools all compute and local storage within a system to provide a cloud-level aggregation of resources for all users. Users are presented with quotas and limits, within which they can spin up their own instances, deploy applications, and manage their own storage resources. If that sounds somewhat simple, well, that's the whole point. Three key investors who backed Google—Andy Bechtolsheim, David Cheriton and Ram Shriram—have also put money into Nebula, and the company has operated quietly out of the spotlight for several years."