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Privacy

Senate Passes USA Freedom Act 259

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."
Microsoft

Microsoft To Support SSH In Windows and Contribute To OpenSSH 259

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.
Media

Cable Companies Hate Cord-Cutting, but It's Not Going Away (Video) 143

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.
Businesses

GameStop Swoops In To Buy ThinkGeek For $140 Million 85

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.
Android

LG Arbitrarily Denying Android Lollipop Update To the G2 In Canada? 123

Posted by timothy
from the arbitrary-lines dept.
Lirodon writes: Its funky rear-mounted buttons may have left critics divided, but the LG G2 is still a pretty capable Android device. While it has gotten an update to Android 5.0 "Lollipop" in some major markets (including the United States, of course), one major holdout is Canada. Reports are surfacing that LG's Canadian subsidiary has decided not to release the update for unknown reasons. But, what about custom ROMs? Well, they handled that too: they have refused to release Lollipop kernel source for the Canadian variant of the device. It is arbitrary actions like this that cause Android's fragmentation problems. A curious note, LG has not specifically made reference to the bugs other users have been having with the update.
The Courts

Blackberry Defeats Typo In Court, Typo To Discontinue Sales of Keyboard 67

Posted by timothy
from the one-way-or-another-it's-over dept.
New submitter juniorkindergarten writes: Blackberry and Typo have reached a final settlement that effectively ends Typo selling its iPhone keyboard accessory. Blackberry took Typo to court for twice for patent infringement over the copying of Blackberry's keyboard design. Blackberry and Typo first battled it out in court, with Typo losing for copying the Blackberry Q10 keyboard design. Typo redesigned its keyboard, and again Blackberry sued them for patent infringement. The final result is that Typo cannot sell keyboards for screens less than 7.9", but can still sell keyboards for the iPad and iPad air. Exact terms were not disclosed.
GUI

Cinnamon 2.6: a Massive Update Loaded With Performance Improvements 145

Posted by timothy
from the also-delicious dept.
jones_supa writes: The Linux Mint team has just announced that Cinnamon 2.6 desktop environment is considered stable and ready to download. It is a big update. The load times have been greatly improved and unnecessary calculations in the window management part are dropped, leading to a 40% reduction in the number of CPU wakes per second. Other improvements include a screensaver that does more than just lock the screen, panels that can be removed or added individually, a much better System Settings panel that should make things much clearer, a cool new effect for windows, and a brand new plugin manager for Nemo. Linux Mint users will receive the new Cinnamon as an update by the end of the month.
Transportation

US Airport Screeners Missed 95% of Weapons, Explosives In Undercover Tests 333

Posted by samzenpus
from the security-theater dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An internal investigation by the TSA found that 95% of agents testing airport checkpoints were able to bring weapons through. In one case, an alarm sounded, but during the pat down, the screener failed to detect a fake plastic explosive taped to the undercover agent's back. ABC reports: "Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was apparently so frustrated by the findings he sought a detailed briefing on them last week at TSA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, according to sources. U.S. officials insisted changes have already been made at airports to address vulnerabilities identified by the latest tests. 'Upon learning the initial findings of the Office of Inspector General's report, Secretary Johnson immediately directed TSA to implement a series of actions, several of which are now in place, to address the issues raised in the report,' the DHS said in a written statement to ABC News."
The Almighty Buck

Cool Tool: The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Cost Calculator 160

Posted by samzenpus
from the breaking-it-down dept.
Lasrick writes: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has launched a very cool new tool that will excite anyone interested in understanding the per kilowatt cost of nuclear energy. Developed over the last two years in a partnership between the Bulletin and the University of Chicago, the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Cost Calculator estimates the cost of electricity produced by three configurations of the nuclear fuel cycle:

1. The once-through fuel cycle used in most US nuclear power plants, in which uranium fuel is used once and then stored for later disposal.
2. A limited-recycle mode in which a mix of uranium and plutonium (that is, mixed oxide, or MOX) is used to fuel a light water reactor.
3. A full-recycle system, which uses a fast neutron spectrum reactor that can be configured to 'breed' plutonium that can subsequently be used as either nuclear fuel or weapons material.

This online tool lets users test how sensitive the price of electricity is to a full range of components—more than 60 parameters that can be adjusted for the three configurations of the nuclear fuel cycle considered. The results provide nuanced cost assessments for the reprocessing of nuclear fuel and can serve as the basis for discussions among government officials, industry leaders, and public interest groups.
Earth

Scientists Discover Sawfish Escape Extinction Through "Virgin Births" 108

Posted by samzenpus
from the I'll-do-it-myself dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The first known virgin births in smalltooth sawfish have been documented in the wild. Researchers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission used DNA to show that three percent of a Florida sawfish population was created by female-only reproduction. Dr Warren Booth, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Tulsa, who previously discovered an instance of parthenogenesis in snakes, said: "This is basically a very extreme form of inbreeding. Most people think of inbreeding as bad, but it could be helpful in purging deleterious mutations from a population." The findings were published in the journal Current Biology.
Advertising

Netflix Is Experimenting With Advertising 297

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-comes-hulu-2 dept.
derekmead writes: Netflix is experimenting with pre-roll and post-roll advertisements for some of its users. For now, it's just pitching it's own original programming. However, many are concerned that they plan to serve third-party ads, but the company says they have no plans to do so. They told Mashable in a statement: "We are not planning to test or implement third-party advertising on the Netflix service. For some time, we've teased Netflix originals with short trailers after a member finishes watching a show. Some members in a limited test now are seeing teases before a show begins. We test hundreds of potential improvements to the service every year. Many never extend beyond that."
Security

Ransomware Creator Apologizes For "Sleeper" Attack, Releases Decryption Keys 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the my-bad dept.
colinneagle writes: Last week, a new strain of ransomware called Locker was activated after having been sitting silently on infected PCs. Security firm KnowBe4 called Locker a "sleeper" campaign that, when the malware's creator "woke it up," encrypted the infected devices' files and charged roughly $24 in exchange for the decryption keys. This week, an internet user claiming to be the creator of Locker publicly apologized for the campaign and appears to have released the decryption keys for all the devices that fell victim to it, KnowBe4 reported in an alert issued today. Locker's creator released this message in a PasteBin post, along with a link to a file hosted on Mega.co containing the decryption keys. The malware creator also said that an automatic decryption process for all devices that were affected by Locker will begin June 2nd.

However, the post did not mention anything about providing a refund to victims who paid the 0.1 bitcoin (equal to $22.88 at the time this was posted and about $24 last week) required for the decryption keys since last week. KnowBe4 CEO Stu Sjouwerman says the files released do not appear to be malicious after brief analysis, and that "it does contain a large quantity of RSA keys and Bitcoin addresses." But he warned those interested to only open these files "at your own risk until further analyses are performed." Sjouwerman speculated that the malware creator may have been spooked by attention from law enforcement or Eastern European organized crime syndicates that are behind most ransomware campaigns.
Patents

Khan Academy Seeks Patents On Learning Computer Programming, Social Programming 97

Posted by timothy
from the well-that-sounds-bad dept.
theodp writes: When it announced its brand new Computer Science platform in August 2012, Khan Academy explained it drew inspiration from both Bret Victor and GitHub (SlideShare). Still, that didn't stop Khan Academy from eventually seeking patents on its apparently Victor-inspired Methods and Systems for Learning Computer Programming and GitHub-inspired Systems and Methods for Social Programming, applications for which were quietly disclosed by the USPTO earlier this year. Silicon Valley legal powerhouse Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, which provides a pro bono team of 20+ to assist billionaire-backed Khan Academy with its legal needs, filed provisional patent applications for KA in August 2013 — provisional applications can be filed up to 12 months following an inventor's public disclosure of the invention — giving it another 12 months before formal claims had to be filed (KA's non-provisional applications were filed in August 2014).
United States

Patriot Act Spy Powers To Expire As Rand Paul Blocks USA Freedom Act Vote 499

Posted by timothy
from the on-paper-at-least dept.
Saturday, we mentioned that three major spying powers that the U.S. government has exercised under the Patriot Act might be nixed, as the sections of the Act granting authority to use them expires. The Daily Dot reports that Senator (and presidential contender) Rand Paul today used Senate rules to block a bill which would have extended those powers, which means that as of midnight Sunday on the U.S. east coast, sections 206, 207 and 215 of the Patriot Act will have expired. Says the Daily Dot's article, linked by reader blottsie: The reform bill, which the House passed before leaving town for a week-long recess, would end the government's bulk collection of Americans' phone records under the Patriot Act's controversial Section 215 but leaves the other two provisions intact. ... Sunday's procedural meltdown was the second narrow defeat for the USA Freedom Act. In a late-night session on Friday, May 22, the bill fell three votes short of an initial procedural step after [Senate Majority Leader] McConnell lobbied hard against it. The Senate's failure to meet its deadline was a blow to President Obama, who on Friday had warned lawmakers that the country would be vulnerable if the USA Freedom Act did not pass.
China

China Unveils World's First Facial Recognition ATM 128

Posted by timothy
from the dystopian-possibilities dept.
An anonymous reader links to an article at IB Times according to which: China has unveiled the world's first facial recognition ATM, which will not allow users to withdraw cash unless their face matches their IDs. The machine was created by Tsinghua University and Hangzhou-based technology company Tzekwan. It has a camera installed in it that captures the facial features of the user then compares it with a database of identification photos.
Crime

Scientists Study Crime In Progress In a VR Simulated Environment 80

Posted by timothy
from the what-would-g-gordon-liddy-do? dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Claire Nee writes in the NYT that for psychologists, it's best to observe actual behavior, in real time, and afterward interview research participants. Yet for obvious ethical and safety reasons, it's almost never possible to observe a crime as it happens. Now psychologists have devised a simulated environment that can be navigated using a mouse or a game controller. and had willing, experienced ex-burglars to commit a mock burglary in it. Ex-burglars approached the task in a dramatically different way from a comparison group of postgraduate students, of a similar age as our experienced ex-burglars. Burglars entered and exited the house at the rear, while students, unaware of the cover that the side and rear of the house afforded, entered at the exposed front. Burglars spent significantly more time in areas of the house with high-value items and navigated it much more systematically than the students did. They also showed greater discernment, by stealing fewer but more valuable items. Most important, all participants burgled the real and the simulated houses almost identically (PDF). We concluded that using simulations can be a robust way to study crime, and in studying it this way, we will not be limited to just burglary. "A better understanding of criminal behavior will help us reduce opportunities for crime in our neighborhoods," concludes Nee. "By knowing what the burglar is looking for — what signals wealth, occupancy, ease of access and security in properties — we can make adjustments in awareness and protection."
The Almighty Buck

Mystery Woman Recycles $200,000 Apple I Computer 143

Posted by timothy
from the oh-this-old-thing dept.
Dave Knott writes: A recycling centre in the Silicon Valley is looking for a woman who dropped off an old computer for recycling. The computer was apparently inside boxes of electronics that she had cleaned out from her garage after her husband died. This would be nothing unusual, except that the recycled computer was an Apple I. The recycling firm eventually sold the Apple I for $200,000 to a private collection, and because the company gives 50 per cent of the proceeds from sold items back to the original owner, they wish to split the proceeds with the mystery donor.
Open Source

MinGW and MSVCRT Conflict Causes Floating-Point Value Corruption 98

Posted by timothy
from the internal-conflict dept.
jones_supa writes: If you are working on a C++ program where you need very accurate floating point numbers, you might have decided to use long double data type for the extra precision. After a few calculations, you happen to print your number. To your shock, instead of the number being 123.456789, it is printed out as -6.518427 × 10^264 (or 2.745563 depending on your computer). This is actually a bug in some versions of MinGW g++ 4.8.1 (MinGW is a port of GNU programming tools for Windows). Microsoft's C++ runtime library reserves 80 bits for double and long double. When MinGW uses the Microsoft DLL to print out the value, the number is interpreted as using only 64 bits. This discrepancy causes garbage results to be output.
Businesses

How Elon Musk's Growing Empire is Fueled By Government Subsidies 353

Posted by timothy
from the damned-if-you-don't dept.
theodp writes: By the Los Angeles Times' reckoning, Elon Musk's Tesla Motors, SolarCity, and SpaceX together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support. The figure compiled by The Times, explains reporter Jerry Hirsch, comprises a variety of government incentives, including grants, tax breaks, factory construction, discounted loans and environmental credits that Tesla can sell. It also includes tax credits and rebates to buyers of solar panels and electric cars. "He definitely goes where there is government money," said an equity research analyst. "Musk and his companies' investors enjoy most of the financial upside of the government support, while taxpayers shoulder the cost," Hirsch adds. "The payoff for the public would come in the form of major pollution reductions, but only if solar panels and electric cars break through as viable mass-market products. For now, both remain niche products for mostly well-heeled customers." And as Musk moves into a new industry — battery-based home energy storage — Hirsch notes Tesla has already secured a commitment of $126 million in California subsidies to companies developing energy storage technology.
Government

The Patriot Act May Be Dead For Good 212

Posted by timothy
from the why-do-you-hate-america? dept.
HughPickens.com points out Shane Harris's report at The Daily Beast that when powerful spying authorities under the Patriot Act expire at the stroke of midnight Monday, as currently appears likely, they may never return. "Senators have been negotiating over whether to pass a House bill that would renew and tweak existing provisions in the long-controversial law, but if the sunset comes and the provisions are off the books, lawmakers in both chambers would be facing a vote to reinstate controversial surveillance authorities, which is an entirely different political calculation. ... Three major Patriot provisions are on the chopping block: so-called roving wiretaps, which let the government monitor one person's multiple electronic devices; the "lone-wolf" provision, which allows surveillance of someone who's not connected to a known terrorist group; and Section 215, which, among other things, the government uses to collect the records of all landline phone calls in the United States." Obama has been urging Congress to pass the Freedom Act, but not warning that the sky will fall if they don't. That may reflect a calculation on the president's part that the surveillance authorities aren't important enough to lose political capital fighting to keep them. Meanwhile with the Senate not slated to return to Washington until just hours before that deadline, opponents like Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) showing no signs of budging, and the House so far unwilling to bail out the upper chamber, the prospects for an eleventh-hour breakthrough look slim.