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Encryption

Tim Cook: "Weakening Encryption Or Taking It Away Harms Good People" 41

Posted by Soulskill
from the plans-i-crpytion-scheme-for-only-good-people dept.
Patrick O'Neill writes: Over the last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly made headlines as a spearpoint in the new crypto wars. As FBI director James Comey pushes for legally mandated backdoors on encryption, Cook has added default strong encryption to Apple devices and vocally resisted Comey's campaign. Echoing warnings from technical experts across the world, Cook said that adding encryption backdoors for law enforcement would weaken the security of all devices and "is incredibly dangerous," he said last night at the Electronic Privacy Information Center awards dinner. "So let me be crystal clear: Weakening encryption or taking it away harms good people who are using it for the right reason."
Robotics

Building Amazon a Better Warehouse Robot 38

Posted by Soulskill
from the like-battlebots-but-kinda-boring dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Amazon relies quite a bit on human labor, most notably in its warehouses. The company wants to change that via machine learning and robotics, which is why earlier this year it invited 30 teams to a "Picking Contest." In order to win the contest, a team needed to build a robot that can outpace other robots in detecting and identifying an object on a shelf, gripping said object without breaking it, and delivering it into a waiting receptacle. Team RBO, composed of researchers from the Technical University of Berlin, won last month's competition by a healthy margin. Their winning design combined a WAM arm (complete with a suction cup for lifting objects) and an XR4000 mobile base into a single unit capable of picking up 12 objects in 20 minutes—not exactly blinding speed, but enough to demonstrate significant promise. If Amazon's contest demonstrated anything, it's that it could be quite a long time before robots are capable of identifying and sorting through objects at speeds even remotely approaching human (and thus taking over those jobs). Chances seem good that Amazon will ask future teams to build machines that are even smarter and faster.
Power

Mystery Company Blazes a Trail In Fusion Energy 49

Posted by Soulskill
from the here-comes-the-sun dept.
sciencehabit writes: Of the handful of startup companies trying to achieve fusion energy via nontraditional methods, Tri Alpha Energy Inc. has always been the enigma. Publishing little and with no website, but apparently sitting on a cash pile in the hundreds of millions, the Foothill Ranch, California-based company has been the subject of intense curiosity and speculation. But last month Tri Alpha lifted the veil slightly with two papers, revealing that its device, dubbed the colliding beam fusion reactor, has shown a 10-fold improvement in its ability to contain the hot particles needed for fusion over earlier devices at U.S. universities and national labs. 'They've improved things greatly and are moving in a direction that is quite promising,' says plasma physicist John Santarius of the Fusion Technology Institute at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Security

New SOHO Router Security Audit Uncovers Over 60 Flaws In 22 Models 49

Posted by Soulskill
from the my-god,-it's-full-of-flaws dept.
Home and small-office routers have become a hotbed for security research lately, with vulnerabilities and poor security practices becoming the rule, rather than the exception. A new security audit by researchers from Universidad Europea de Madrid only adds to that list, finding 60 distinct flaws in 22 different device models. They posted details of their research on the Full Disclosure mailing list, and the affected brands include D-Link, Belkin, Linksys, Huawei, and others. Many of the models they examined had been distributed to internet customers across Spain by their ISPs. About half of the flaws involve Cross Site Scripting and Cross Site Request Forgery capabilities, though there is at least one backdoor with a hard-coded password. Several routers allow external attackers to delete files on USB storage devices, and others facilitate DDoS attacks.
DRM

The Bizarre Process Used For Approving Exemptions To the DMCA 33

Posted by Soulskill
from the assume-a-spherical-librarian dept.
harrymcc writes: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act imposes severe penalties on those who overcome copy-protection technologies. It allows for exemptions for a variety of purposes — but in a weird proviso, those exemptions must be re-approved by the Librarian of Congress every three years. Over at Fast Company, Glenn Fleishman takes a look at this broken system and why it's so bad for our rights as consumers. "The Librarian has opted to require one or more 'champions' or proponents of a carefully defined category, like "Audiovisual works – educational uses – colleges and universities," to file a brief. His office also opens the floor to rebuttals from opponents. Further, the Librarian sunsets every exemption every three years—something not required by the law, and which requires champions to arise again to launch a new defense. The office also doesn't propose its own examples of circumvention that should be permitted, even though the law permits it to do so."
Privacy

Senate Passes USA Freedom Act 172

Posted by Soulskill
from the agreeing-to-disagree-about-agreeing dept.
schwit1 points out that the U.S. Senate has passed the USA Freedom Act by a vote of 67-32, sending it on to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law. The bill removes mass metadata collection powers from the NSA, but also grants a new set of surveillance powers to replace them. Telecoms now hang on to that data, and the government can access it if they suspect the target is part of a terrorism investigation and one of the call's participants is overseas. "The second provision revived Tuesday concerns roving wiretaps. Spies may tap a terror suspect's communications without getting a renewed FISA Court warrant, even as a suspect jumps from one device to the next. The FISA Court need not be told who is being targeted when issuing a warrant. The third spy tool renewed is called "lone wolf" in spy jargon. It allows for roving wiretaps. However, the target of wiretaps does not have to be linked to a foreign power or terrorism."
Hardware

Fabs Now Manufacturing Carbon Nanotube Memory, Which Could Replace NAND and DRAM 52

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-my-isolinear-chips dept.
Lucas123 writes: Nantero, the company that invented carbon nanotube-based non-volatile memory in 2001 and has been developing it since, has announced that seven chip fabrication plants are now manufacturing its Nano-RAM (NRAM) wafers and test chips. The company also announced aerospace giant Lockheed Martin and Schlumberger Ltd., the world's largest gas and oil exploration and drilling company, as customers seeking to use its chip technology. The memory, which can withstand 300 degrees Celsius temperatures for years without losing data, is natively thousands of times faster than NAND flash and has virtually infinite read/write resilience. Nantero plans on creating gum sticks SSDs using DDR4 interfaces. NRAM has the potential to create memory that is vastly more dense that NAND flash, as its transistors can shrink to below 5 nanometers in size, three times more dense than today's densest NAND flash. At the same time, NRAM is up against a robust field of new memory technologies that are expected to challenge NAND flash in speed, endurance and capacity, such as Phase-Change Memory and Ferroelectric RAM (FRAM).
Microsoft

Microsoft To Support SSH In Windows and Contribute To OpenSSH 198

Posted by Soulskill
from the headlines-you-probably-didn't-expect dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has announced plans for native support for SSH in Windows. "A popular request the PowerShell team has received is to use Secure Shell protocol and Shell session (aka SSH) to interoperate between Windows and Linux – both Linux connecting to and managing Windows via SSH and, vice versa, Windows connecting to and managing Linux via SSH. Thus, the combination of PowerShell and SSH will deliver a robust and secure solution to automate and to remotely manage Linux and Windows systems." Based on the work from this new direction, they also plan to contribute back to the OpenSSH project as well.
Perl

Perl 5.22 Released 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
kthreadd writes: Version 5.22 of the Perl programming language has just been released. A major new feature in this release is the double diamond operator; like the regular diamond operator it allows you to quickly read through files specified on the command line but does this in a much safer way by not evaluating special characters in the file names. Other new features include hexadecimal floating point numbers, improved variable aliasing and a nicer syntax for repetition in list assignment. Also, historical Perl modules CGI.pm and Module::Build are removed from the core distribution.
Media

Cable Companies Hate Cord-Cutting, but It's Not Going Away (Video) 122

Posted by Roblimo
from the parting-with-a-cable-company-is-such-sweet-sorrow dept.
On May 29, Steven J. Vaughan Nichols (known far and wide as SJVN) wrote an article for ZDNet headlined, Now more than ever, the Internet belongs to cord-cutters. A few days before that, he wrote another one headlined, Mary Meeker's Internet report: User growth slowing, but disruption full speed ahead. And last December he wrote one titled, Reports show it's becoming a cord cutter's world. SJVN obviously sees a trend here. So do a lot of other people, including cable TV and local TV executives who are biting their nails and asking themselves, "Whatever shall we do?" So far, says SJVN, the answers they've come up with are not encouraging.

NOTE from Roblimo: We're trying something different with this video, namely keeping it down to about 4 minutes but running a text transcript that covers our 20+ minute conversation with SJVN. Is this is a good idea? Please let us know.
Privacy

FBI Is Behind Mysterious Flights Over US Cities 133

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-such-bureau dept.
New submitter kaizendojo sends a report from the Associated Press indicating the FBI has a small fleet of planes that fly across the U.S. carrying surveillance equipment. The planes are registered with fictitious companies to hide their association with the U.S. government. The FBI says they're only used for investigations that are "specific" and "ongoing," but they're often used without getting permission from a judge beforehand. "Some of the aircraft can also be equipped with technology that can identify thousands of people below through the cellphones they carry, even if they're not making a call or in public. Officials said that practice, which mimics cell towers and gets phones to reveal basic subscriber information, is rare." The AP identified at least 50 FBI-controlled planes, which have done over 100 flights since late April. The AP adds that they've seen the planes "orbiting large, enclosed buildings for extended periods where aerial photography would be less effective than electronic signals collection."
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: Your Most Unusual Hardware Hack? 211

Posted by timothy
from the my-water-into-wine-machine dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Another Slashdotter recently asked what kind of things someone can power with an external USB battery. I have a followup along those lines: what kind of modifications have you made to your gadgets to do things that they were never meant to do? Consider old routers, cell phones, monitors, etc. that have absolutely no use or value anymore in their intended form. What can you do with them?
Businesses

GameStop Swoops In To Buy ThinkGeek For $140 Million 79

Posted by Soulskill
from the will-pay-you-8-cents-for-used-annoy-a-trons dept.
Lirodon writes: Remember a few days ago, when Slashdot's former parent company was the subject of a $122 million takeover bid by Hot Topic? Well, another geeky retailer entered the fray in the battle for ThinkGeek, and won. GameStop will be acquiring Geeknet for $140 million. The video game retailer has promised synergies, such as in-store pickup and integration with its rewards program.
Security

Professional Russian Trolling Exposed 239

Posted by timothy
from the in-ex-soviet-russia dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Today the New York Times published a stunning exposé revealing the strategies used by one of the Web's greatest enemies: professional, government-backed "internet trolls." These well-paid agent provocateurs are dedicated to destroying the value of the Internet as an organizing and political tool. The trolling attacks described within are mind-boggling -- they sound like the basis of a Neal Stephenson novel as much as they do real life -- but they all rely on the usual, inevitable suspects of imperfect security and human credulity.
Intel

Intel Adopts USB-C Connector For 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3, Supports USB 3.1, DP 1.2 157

Posted by timothy
from the ok-that's-pretty-cool dept.
MojoKid writes: The high speed Thunderbolt interface standard, which is used for everything from hyper-fast external storage solutions to external graphics cards, has been slow to take off. You can blame the high-priced Thunderbolt peripherals and the uber-expensive cables (at least when compared to your garden-variety USB cables). For most people, USB 3.0 is "good enough" and making a huge investment into the Thunderbolt ecosystem has been reserved for those in the professional video editing arena. However, Intel is looking to change all of that with Thunderbolt 3. Thunderbolt 3 once again doubles the maximum bandwidth, this time jumping from 20Gbps to a whopping 40Gbps. While that is impressive in its own right, the truly big news is that Thunderbolt 3 is moving away from the Mini DisplayPort connector and is instead adopting the USB-C connector. As a result Thunderbolt will also support USB 3.1 (which is currently spec'd at 10Gbps) and can optionally provide up to 100W of power (in compliance with the USB Power Delivery spec) to charge devices via USB-C (like the recently introduced 12-inch Apple MacBook).