Hugh Pickens writes writes "BBC reports that Pope Benedict XVI is to resign at the end of this month in an unexpected development, saying he is too old to continue at the age of 85. In a statement, the pontiff said: 'After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.' Resignations from the papacy are not unknown, but this is the first in the modern era, which has been marked by pontiffs dying while in office."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
sfcrazy writes "Google has declared Red Hat's RHEL 6 obsolete, showing a notification which says, 'Google Chrome us no longer updating because your operating system is obsolete.' Red Hat evangelist Jan Wilderboer says: 'We release new stable versions of RHEL every 2-3 years. The API/ABI stability is what sets it apart from community distros. Customers need long term stability. Google knows (and uses) that itself internally. By cutting the support of enterprise distributions they simply tell me to move elsewhere. That's not a very encouraging thing.'"
First time accepted submitter thoughtfulbloke writes "Ron Paul has gone to the United Nations' World Intellectual Property Organization to seize control of the RonPaul.com domain from the fans that built it up, rather than purchase it. From the article: 'The proprietors of RonPaul.com say they reached out to the retired politicain and offered him RonPaul.org as a free gift, but if he "insisted" on owning RonPaul.com then they would sell it to him. There was a catch, though. It would be part of a "liberty package" with the site's 170,000 person mailing list for... wait for it... $250,000. They think the price is totally worth it: '"
theodp writes "In an open letter on TechCrunch, Vivek Wadhwa calls on Congressman Luis Gutierrez to lift his 'hold on Silicon Valley' and stop tying immigration reform for highly-skilled STEM immigrants to the plight of undocumented immigrants. So, why should the STEM set get first dibs? 'The issues of high-skilled and undocumented immigrants are both equally important,' says Wadhwa, but 'the difference is that the skilled workers have mobility and are in great demand all over the world. They are getting frustrated and are leaving in droves.' Commenting on Gutierrez's voting record, Wadhwa adds, 'I would have voted for visas for 50,000 smart foreign students graduating with STEM degrees from U.S. universities over bringing in 55,000 randomly selected high-school graduates from abroad. The STEM graduates would have created jobs and boosted our economy. The lottery winners will come to the U.S. with high hopes, but will face certain unemployment and misery because of our weak economy.' So, should Gutierrez cede to Wadhwa's techies-before-Latinos proposal, or would this be an example of the paradox of virtuous meritocracy undermining equality of opportunity?"
CowboyRobot writes "FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski recently proposed making RF spectrum publicly available, and many in the media (including the Washington Post) have been mistakenly conflating open access to WiFi signal with free Internet access; anyone can put up a wireless access point but that doesn't give them access to the Internet. The proposal will probably mean more attempts at providing free Internet access to specific neighborhoods or municipalities, but as Larry Seltzer at NetworkComputing points out, these programs also usually forget that access to signal is not the same as access to the Internet. After getting the funding to wire a city, these isn't money left to pay for the actual bandwidth usage."
An anonymous reader writes "When it comes to RAM, as every geek knows, 1 GB does not mean 1 billion bytes.. it means 2**30 (1,073,741,824) bytes. However, several decades ago "they" decided that GB, MB, and KB would be interpreted differently when it comes to disk drives; 1 GB means exactly 1 billion bytes. Ed Bott points out that Microsoft's marketers and Windows kernel developers aren't on the same page when it comes to these units: the marketers use the more generous decimal interpretation, while Windows measures and reports capacity using the binary (2**30) measure. Careful customers who bother to check what they've got have been known to get peeved by the discrepancy."
danielkennedy74 links to an instructive story captured on video introduced with these words: "Sneaking in near press/employee access points without going thru them, zigzagging through corridors, and once carrying a box so someone opens a door for them, two jokers from Savannah State University social engineer their way into Super Bowl XLVII for the most part simply by looking like they belong." USA Today has a slightly longer article.
An anonymous reader writes "Live outside the U.S.? Tired of paying huge local price markups on technology products from vendors such as Apple, Microsoft and Adobe? Well, rest easy, the Australian Government is on the case. After months of stonewalling from the vendors, today the Australian Parliament issued subpoenas compelling the three vendors to appear in public and take questions regarding their price hikes on technology products sold in Australia. Finally, we may have some answers for why Adobe, for example, charges up to $1,400 more for the full version of Creative Suite 6 when sold outside the U.S."
First time accepted submitter Bitsy Boffin writes "Xtra, the largest ISP in New Zealand, which outsources email provision to Yahoo, has in the last two days been subject to a widespread email compromise, causing potentially thousands of accounts to send spam messages to every address in their webmail address books. Discussion at Geekzone centers around this potentially being a continuation of the Yahoo XSS exploit. While Telecom NZ, the owners of Xtra internet service provider indicate that the problem was "resolved", reports of spam from its members continue unabated. Telecom NZ are advising those affected to change their passwords."
An anonymous reader writes "If you're a hacker or a security researcher, this is a reminder that you don't have to take on Google's or Mozilla's software to get paid for finding a bug. In its first week, the Mega vulnerability reward program has already confirmed and fixed seven bugs, showing that Dotcom really does put his money where his mouth is. Although Mega hasn't shared how much money it paid out in the first week, how many bug submissions were made, or even who found which bugs, the company did briefly detail the discovered security holes. It also confirmed that the program is here to stay and urged those participating to find more severe bugs."
TechCrunch is one of the many outlets to report that Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet computer sold out on its first day of wide availability. Business Insider points to Reddit threads complaining that "selling out" was largely a product of not having all that many in stock to begin with, in some cases not even enough to cover pre-ordered devices.
The WSJ reports that Apple is "experimenting with designs for a watch-like device that would perform some functions of a smartphone, according to people briefed on the effort." An excerpt: The company has discussed such a device with its major manufacturing partner Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., one of these people said, as part of explorations of potentially large product categories beyond the smartphone and tablet. Apple's efforts come as companies have introduced various kinds of wearable gadgets, mainly designed to measure physical activity. More sophisticated devices face big technical challenges, but also are attracting investments from large technology companies. Foxconn, as Hon Hai is also known, has been working on a spate of technologies that could be used in wearable devices, one of these people said. In particular, the Taiwan-based company has been working to address the challenges of making displays more power-efficient and working with chip manufacturers to strip down their products."
drdread66 writes "A nationwide corn shortage brought on by last year's drought has started to curtail ethanol production. While this shouldn't be surprising to anyone, it raises public policy issues regarding ethanol usage requirements in motor fuel. Given that the energy efficiency of ethanol fuel is questionable at best, is it time to lift the mandate for ethanol in our gasoline?"
First time accepted submitter CarlosF writes "Does Lunar New Year belong alongside those other red-letter days? Efforts to recognize Lunar New Year at the state and local level have been afoot for years. In 1994, San Francisco decided to close public schools on Lunar New Year, but this was largely a response to demographic reality rather than political pressure."
hypnosec writes "The ozone layer seems to be on a road to recovery over Antarctica; according to Europe's MetOp weather satellite, which is monitoring atmospheric ozone, the hole over the South Pole in 2012 was the smallest it's been in the last 10 years. The decrease in size of the hole is probably the result of reduction in the concentration of CFCs, especially since the mid-1990s, because of international agreements like the Montreal Protocol."