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EU

Dutch MEP Petitions To Ban Export of Surveillance Software 81

Posted by timothy
from the hey-we're-using-that dept.
Trailrunner7 writes with this excerpt: "A Dutch member of the European parliament is supporting a grass-roots effort to restrict the export of surveillance software such as FinFisher and others, which are used by some governments and law-enforcement agencies to monitor their citizens' activities. The effort, dubbed Stop Digital Arms, is supported by Marietje Schaake, a member of the EU Parliament's International Trade committee. The petition itself is on the Change.org site, and it calls upon members of the European Union 'to give the European Commission the mandate to draft the laws and develop initiatives necessary to stop digital arms trade' ... In a report called 'For Their Eyes Only' released earlier this year, the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the university of Toronto detailed the spread of this software around the world and identified a slew of FinFisher command-and-control servers in countries such as Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States, among many others."
Earth

Exploiting Tomorrow's Solar Eclipse To Help Understand Sea Levels 92

Posted by timothy
from the world-in-miniature dept.
mdsolar writes "Tomorrow at dawn on the U.S. East Coast, a partial solar eclipse will rise. Solar eclipses have many uses. They can confirm the Theory of Relativity, allow study of the solar corona, and this week, help prepare for global warming induced sea level rise. The tides induced in the oceans when the Sun and Moon are aligned are particularly high (and low) and give a foretaste of the effects of sea level rise in the coming decades. Maryland's Department of Natural Resources is asking for photos of these King Tides to help with preparation for the effect of sea level rise. Way to get out front, Maryland."
Crime

EU Considering Sensors In Sewers To Detect Bomb-Makers 219

Posted by timothy
from the who-does-number-one-work-for? dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Security agencies in Europe have found a whole new way to identify and approach bombmakers and other potentially dangerous radicals. The only problem with the approach is that it stinks. Literally. Researchers in a European-Union funded project called Emphasis are developing chemical sensors that can be embedded in networks of underground sewage tunnels to sniff the air and phone home at the first hint of chemical residue from the manufacture of bombs. Using remote sensors might be effective because the liquid- and gas byproducts of bomb production – and manufacture of many drugs as well – leak, seep or are poured into sinks and toilets to get rid of the evidence, according to Hans Onnerud, an analytical chemist with the Swedish Defense Research Agency. With such a catchall underneath the city streets, and the chemical wherewithal to identify which smells belong to bombs or drugs and which belong to other things, it should be possible to keep a close watch on development of dangerous materials in a city without invading the homes of residents, Onnerud added. In fact, if sewer-sniffing technology had been in place in 2005, British authorities might have had a much easier time tracing the location of the bombers, or even detecting them ahead of time and stopping the London subway bomb attack that killed 54 people. Fumes from the bombs used in those attacks, which were assembled in a house in Leeds that had been turned into a compact bomb factory, were strong enough to kill plants in the garden. It's extremely likely they would have been detectable from the sewer as well, Onnerud said in a statement announcing Emphasis. The sensors developed for Emphasis are designed to detect chemical reagents produced by the breakdown of chemicals in bombs. Each sensor is a 10-centimeter-long electrode that can be submersed in sewer wastewater to look for ions of the right configuration."
Transportation

SkyRunner Car Goes Off-Road and Off-Ground 26

Posted by timothy
from the here's-your-gol-danged-flying-car dept.
Zothecula writes "Back in 2008, we heard about a parasail-equipped dune buggy, known as the Parajet Skycar. It could scramble over rough ground like a true off-roader, but then take to the skies when needed. One epic 6,000-km (3,728-mile) drive/flight from London to Tombouctou later, its creators got some ideas about how the design could be improved. The result is the lighter, better-flying and less-polluting SkyRunner – and you can order one now." Fans of American domestic parasail-equipped flying cars, don't forget that there's also the Florida-built Maverick.
Power

Surface Pro 2 Gets Significant Battery Boost 157

Posted by timothy
from the can't-beat-a-trs-80-model-100 dept.
SmartAboutThings writes "The original Surface Pro didn't have quite a good battery life and that's why Microsoft tried to fix this with the Surface Pro. After the Surface Pro 2 has hit general availability, Microsoft has silently pushed out a firmware update which, according to some new battery benchmarks run by Anandtech, made significant improvements to the battery life of the Surface Pro 2. After the new web browsing battery life test it was discovered that the Surface Pro 2 now manages better battery life than the ARM Surface 2, which is pretty impressive. With the firmware update, Microsoft was targeting over 8 hours, and AnadTech's benchmarks show Microsoft has succeeded, registering a 25% increase in battery life over the no-firmware version. The unpatched Surface Pro 2 lasted for 6.68 hours while with the firmware update installed, its battery life increased to 8.33 hours. The video playback test involved playing a movie until the battery died, and here, albeit smaller, improvements with the battery life have also been noticed: 7.73 hours compared to 6.65 hours."
Government

HealthCare.gov: What Went Wrong? 400

Posted by timothy
from the other-people's-money dept.
New submitter codeusirae writes "An initial round of criticism focused on how many files the browser was being forced to download just to access the site, per an article at Reuters. A thread at Reddit appeared and was filled with analyses of the code. But closer looks by others have teased out deeper, more systematic issues."
United Kingdom

GCHQ, European Spy Agencies Cooperate On Surveillance 145

Posted by timothy
from the albert-jay-nock-was-an-optimist dept.
jones_supa writes "Edward Snowden papers unmask that the German, French, Spanish and Swedish intelligence services have all developed methods of mass surveillance of internet and phone traffic over the past five years in close partnership with Britain's GCHQ eavesdropping agency. The bulk monitoring is carried out through direct taps into fibre optic cables and the development of covert relationships with telecommunications companies. A loose but growing eavesdropping alliance has allowed intelligence agencies from one country to cultivate ties with corporations from another to facilitate the trawling of the web. The files also make clear that GCHQ played a leading role in advising its European counterparts how to work around national laws intended to restrict the surveillance power of intelligence agencies."
Android

CyanogenMod 10.2 M1 Released 65

Posted by timothy
from the crack-team-of-specialists dept.
sfcrazy writes "CyanogenMod team has announced the release of version 10.2 M1, just after the release of Android 4.4 aka Kit Kat. In a post the team says, "With all the Android 4.4 hype, we haven't forgotten about CM 10.2. Tonight the buildbots will focus their efforts on building and shipping out CyanogenMod 10.2 M1. Builds are already hitting the servers (please be patient, this will take a while). We are targeting over 70 devices for this initial M-release.""
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Easy, Open Source Desktop-Sharing Software? 116

Posted by timothy
from the what-do-we-see-here dept.
N8F8 writes "Like many IT professionals, I provide a lot of free help desk-type support to friends and family. I've decided to expand my support work and create a site where veterans can receive free computer help. I'm using OSTicket for the ticket reporting. What I really need is an easy to use desktop-sharing system. In the past I've used TeamViewer because it is easy to use, but it is not really free for non-personal use. Recently I switched to Meraki Systems Manager because it is free — and it uses VNC — but unfortunately it isn't intended for the one-time-use type support I'll be offering. So I'm looking for a reliable, open source, easy to use desktop-sharing solution that I can set up on my site for people to join one-time-use help desk sessions."
Cellphones

OpenPhoenux Neo900 Bills Itself As Successor To Nokia's N900 111

Posted by timothy
from the certainly-has-a-similar-name dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The latest device in the OpenPhoenux open hardware family is the Neo900, the first true successor to the Nokia N900. The Neo900 is a joint project of the Openmoko veteran Jörg Reisenweber and the creators of the GTA04/Letux2804 open hardware smartphone at Golden Delicious Computers. Furthermore, it is supported by the N900 Maemo5/Fremantle community, the Openmoko community and the OpenPhoenux community, who are working together to get closer to their common goal of providing an open hardware smartphone, which is able to run 100% free and open source software, while being independet of any big hardware manufacturer." So far, their Indiegogo campaign has raised more than half of the €25,000 they're seeking.
Math

A Math Test That's Rotten To the Common Core 663

Posted by timothy
from the two-trains-leave-chicago-with-opposite-polarity dept.
theodp writes " The Common Core State Standards Initiative," explains the project's website, ""is a state-led effort that established a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics that states voluntarily adopt." Who could argue with such an effort? Not Bill Gates, who ponied up $150 million to help git-r-done. But the devil's in the details, notes Washington Post education reporter Valerie Strauss, who offers up a ridiculous Common Core math test for first graders as Exhibit A, which also helps to explain why the initiative is facing waning support. Explaining her frustration with the intended-for-5-and-6-year-olds test from Gates Foundation partner Pearson Education, Principal Carol Burris explains, "Take a look at question No. 1, which shows students five pennies, under which it says 'part I know,' and then a full coffee cup labeled with a '6' and, under it, the word, 'Whole.' Students are asked to find 'the missing part' from a list of four numbers. My assistant principal for mathematics was not sure what the question was asking. How could pennies be a part of a cup?" The 6-year-old first-grader who took the test didn't get it either, and took home a 45% math grade to her parents. And so the I'm-bad-at-math game begins!"
Google

Google Attacks Microsoft Again: Android 4.4 Ships With Quickoffice 178

Posted by timothy
from the file-formats-yet-again dept.
An anonymous reader writes "With Android 4.4 KitKat, Google's biggest blow to Microsoft isn't against Windows Phone. It's against Microsoft Office. You see, KitKat ships with Quickoffice, letting you edit Microsoft Office documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on the go, without paying a dime, straight out of the box. This tidbit was largely lost in the news yesterday, given the large number of improvements and new features that KitKat offers. Yet it's a very big deal: every Android user that upgrades to KitKat will get Google's Quickoffice, and every new Android device (starting with the Nexus 5) that ships with KitKat or higher will also get Quickoffice."
Operating Systems

OpenBSD 5.4 Released 102

Posted by timothy
from the they're-not-in-it-for-the-money dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The release of OpenBSD 5.4 has been announced. New and notable advancements include new or extended platforms like octeon and beagle, moving VAX to ELF format, improved hardware support including Kernel Mode Setting (KMS), overhauled inteldrm(4), experimental support for fuse(4), reworked checksum handling for network protocols, OpenSMTPD 5.3.3, OpenSSH 6.3, over 7,800 ports, and many other improvements and additions."
United States

A Plan To Fix Daylight Savings Time By Creating Two National Time Zones 545

Posted by timothy
from the overdue-and-by-more-than-an-hour dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Allison Schrager writes in the Atlantic that losing another hour of evening daylight isn't just annoying. It's an economically harmful policy with minimal energy savings. "The actual energy savings are minimal, if they exist at all. Frequent and uncoordinated time changes cause confusion, undermining economic efficiency. There's evidence that regularly changing sleep cycles, associated with daylight saving, lowers productivity and increases heart attacks." So here's Schrager's proposal. This year, Americans on Eastern Standard Time should set their clocks back one hour (like normal), Americans on Central and Rocky Mountain time do nothing, and Americans on Pacific time should set their clocks forward one hour. This will result in just two time zones for the continental United States and the east and west coasts will only be one hour apart. "America already functions on fewer than four time zones," says Schrager. "I spent the last three years commuting between New York and Austin, living on both Eastern and Central time. I found that in Austin, everyone did things at the same times they do them in New York, despite the difference in time zone. People got to work at 8 am instead of 9 am, restaurants were packed at 6 pm instead of 7 pm, and even the TV schedule was an hour earlier. " Research based on time use surveys found American's schedules are already determined more by television than daylight suggesting, in effect, that Americans already live on two time zones. Schrager says that this strategy has already been proven to work in other parts of the world. China has been on one time zone since 1949, despite naturally spanning five time zones and in 1983, Alaska, which naturally spans four time zones, moved most of the state to a single time zone. "It sounds radical, but it really isn't. The purpose of uniform time measures is coordination. How we measure time has always evolved with the needs of commerce.," concludes Schrager. "Time is already arbitrary, why not make it work in our favor?""
Security

'Morris Worm' Turns 25: Watch How TV Covered It Then 51

Posted by timothy
from the luckily-it-was-all-hype dept.
netbuzz writes "On Nov. 2, 1988, mainstream America learned for the first time that computers get viruses, too, as the now notorious "Morris worm" made front-page headlines after first making life miserable for IT professionals. A PBS television news report about the worm offers a telling look at how computer viruses were perceived (or not) at the time. 'Life in the modern world has a new anxiety today,' says the news anchor. 'Just as we've become totally dependent on our computers they're being stalked by saboteurs, saboteurs who create computer viruses.'"

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