Education

Led By Zuckerberg, Billionaires Give $100M To Fund Private Elementary Schools 83

Posted by samzenpus
from the price-of-an-education dept.
theodp writes: AltSchool, a 2-year-old software-fueled private elementary school initiative started by an ex-Googler, announced Monday a $100 million Series B round led by established VC firms and high-profile tech investors including Mark Zuckerberg, Laurene Powell Jobs, John Doerr, and Pierre Omidyar. AltSchool uses proprietary software that provides students with a personalized playlist lesson that teachers can keep close tabs on. Currently, a few hundred students in four Bay Area classrooms use AltSchool tech. Three more California classrooms, plus one in Brooklyn, are expected to come online this fall, plus one in Brooklyn. "We believe that every child should have access to an exceptional, personalized education that enables them to be happy and successful in an ever-changing world," reads AltSchool's mission statement. For $28,750-a-year, your kid can be one of them right now. Eventually, the plan is for the billionaire-bankrolled education magic to trickle down. AltSchool's pitch to investors, according to NPR, is that one day, charter schools or even regular public schools could outsource many basic functions to its software platform.
Windows

Single Verizon IP Address Used For Hundreds of Windows 7 Activations 215

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-might-want-to-tone-it-down-a-little dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A presumed pirate with an unusually large appetite for activating Windows 7 has incurred the wrath of Microsoft. In a lawsuit filed in a Washington court, Microsoft said that it logged hundreds of suspicious product activations from a single Verizon IP address and is now seeking damages. Who he, she or they are behind address 74.111.202.30 is unknown at this point, but according to Microsoft they're responsible for some serious Windows pirating. "As part of its cyberforensic methods, Microsoft analyzes product key activation data voluntarily provided by users when they activate Microsoft software, including the IP address from which a given product key is activated," the lawsuit reads. The company says that its forensic tools allow the company to analyze billions of activations of software and identify patterns "that make it more likely than not" that an IP address associated with activations is one through which pirated software is being activated.
Privacy

Researchers Detect Android Apps That Connect to User Tracking and Ad Sites 62

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-track-me-bro dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A group of European researchers has developed software that tracks the URLs to which cellphone apps connect. After downloading 2,000+ free apps from Google Play, they indexed all the sites those apps connected to, and compared them to a list of known advertising and user tracking sites. "In total, the apps connect to a mind-boggling 250,000 different URLs across almost 2,000 top level domains. And while most attempt to connect to just a handful of ad and tracking sites, some are much more prolific. Vigneri and co give as an example "Music Volume Eq," an app designed to control volume, a task that does not require a connection to any external urls. And yet the app makes many connections. 'We find the app Music Volume EQ connects to almost 2,000 distinct URLs,' they say. [Another major offender] is an app called Eurosport Player which connects to 810 different user tracking sites." The researchers plan to publish their software for users to try out on Google Play soon.
Open Source

Accessibility In Linux Is Good (But Could Be Much Better) 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-inclusive-tux dept.
An anonymous reader sends this report from opensource.com: GNU/Linux distributions provide great advantages over proprietary alternatives for people with disabilities. All the accessibility tools included in Linux are open source, meaning their code is readily available if you want to examine or improve it, and cost nothing. Hardware devices, of course, are still going to cost money. Additionally, accessibility software on other platforms generally contain licensing constraints on the user. ... When it comes to accessibility, Linux is not without issues. ... The number of developers who specifically work on accessibility tools is quite small. For example, there is only one Orca developer, two AT-SPI developers, and a single GTK developer. ... Developers who do not depend on assistive technologies tend to forget—or don't know—that a disabled person might want to use their application, read their web page, and so on. ... The problem is not necessarily that developers do not care. Rather, it's is that accessibility is highly specialized and requires someone with knowledge in the area, regardless of platform.
Communications

WikiLeaks' Anonymous Leak Submission System Is Back After Nearly 5 Years 25

Posted by timothy
from the drop-'em-a-line dept.
Sparrowvsrevolution writes: On Friday, WikiLeaks announced that it has finally relaunched a beta version of its leak submission system after a 4.5 year hiatus. That file-upload site, which once served as a central tool in WIkiLeaks' leak-collecting mission, runs on the anonymity software Tor to allow uploaders to share documents and tips while protecting their identity from any network eavesdropper, and even from WikiLeaks itself. In 2010 the original submission system went down amid infighting between WikiLeaks' leaders and several of its disenchanted staffers, including several who left to create their own soon-to-fail project called OpenLeaks. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says that the new system, which was delayed by his legal troubles and the banking industry blockade against the group, is the final result of "four competing research projects" WikiLeaks launched in recent years. He adds that it has several less-visible submission systems in addition to the one it's now revealed. "Currently, we have one public-facing and several private-facing submission systems in operation, cryptographically, operationally and legally secured with national security sourcing in mind," Assange writes.
Programming

Should Developers Still Pay For Game Engines? 122

Posted by timothy
from the do-they-anyhow? dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Game developers no longer have to pay for the software they need to make great video games, because the tools used by some of the biggest and most successful studios in the world are available to everyone, for free. Among the existing major engines, there is one holdout that does not offer a free version: Crytek continues to charge everyone for CryEngine, and is intent on continuing to do so. That's not to say Crytek is being unreasonable. The company introduced a $10-per-month subscription last year, making it accessible to indie developers who can't afford the higher-priced package that includes full source code. "With CryEngine, Crytek is going to the high-end," Crytek co-founder Faruk Yerli recently told Develop, a news site for developers. Unity3D is going for the low-end while Unreal is aiming for everything from low- to high-end, he added. But according to some developers queried by Dice, there is little reality to the idea that the big three engines are divided between low, mid-end, and high-end capabilities. If you're a developer, is it still worth paying for a game engine?
Bug

Long Uptime Makes Boeing 787 Lose Electrical Power 244

Posted by timothy
from the have-you-tried-turning-off-and-then-on-again? dept.
jones_supa writes: A dangerous software glitch has been found in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. If the plane is left turned on for 248 days, it will enter a failsafe mode that will lead to the plane losing all of its power, according to a new directive from the US Federal Aviation Administration. If the bug is triggered, all the Generator Control Units will shut off, leaving the plane without power, and the control of the plane will be lost. Boeing is working on a software upgrade that will address the problems, the FAA says. The company is said to have found the problem during laboratory testing of the plane, and thankfully there are no reports of it being triggered on the field.
Security

Unnoticed For Years, Malware Turned Linux Servers Into Spamming Machines 179

Posted by timothy
from the just-where-you-least-expect-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes: For over 5 years, and perhaps even longer, servers around the world running Linux and FreeBSD operating systems have been targeted by an individual or group that compromised them via a backdoor Trojan, then made them send out spam, ESET researchers have found. What's more, it seems that the spammers are connected with a software company called Yellsoft, which sells DirectMailer, a "system for automated e-mail distribution" that allows users to send out anonymous email in bulk. Here's the white paper in which the researchers explain the exploit.
Spam

Want 30 Job Offers a Month? It's Not As Great As You Think 225

Posted by timothy
from the zippy-the-pinhead-is-always-hiring dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Software engineers suffer from a problem that most other industries wish they had: too much demand. There's a great story at the Atlantic entitled Imagine Getting 30 Job Offers a Month (It Isn't as Awesome as You Might Think). This is a problem that many engineers deal with: place your resume on a job board and proceed to be spammed multiple times per day for jobs in places that you would never go to (URGENT REQUIREMENT IN DETROIT!!!!!, etc). Google "recruiter spam" and there are many tales of engineers being overwhelmed by this. One engineer, fed up by a lack of a recruiting spam blackhole, set up NoRecruitingSpam.com with directions on how to stop this modern tech scourge. Have you been the victim of recruiting spam?
Windows

Android and iOS App Porting Will Not Be Available At Windows 10 Launch 51

Posted by timothy
from the all-things-in-time dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Arguably the biggest news out of Microsoft's Build 2015 conference was that developers will be able to bring Web apps, Windows desktop apps (Win32), as well as Android and iOS mobile apps to the Windows Store. Yet each of these work differently, and there are a lot of nuances, so we talked to Todd Brix, general manager of Windows apps and store, to get some more detail. First and foremost, upon Windows 10's launch, developers will only be able to bring Web apps to the Windows Store. The Win32, Android, and iOS app toolkits will not be ready in time. That said, with Microsoft's Windows as a service strategy, they will arrive as part of later updates
Security

Chinese Security Vendor Qihoo 360 Caught Cheating In Anti-virus Tests 62

Posted by Soulskill
from the hand-in-the-virus-jar dept.
Bismillah writes: China's allegedly largest security vendor Qihoo 360 has fessed up to supplying custom versions of its AV for testing according to an investigation by Virus Bulletin, AV-Comparatives and AV-Test. "On requesting an explanation from Qihoo 360 for their actions (PDF), the firm confirmed that some settings had been adjusted for testing, including enabling detection of types of files such as keygens and cracked software, and directing cloud lookups to servers located closer to the test labs. After several requests for specific information on the use of thirdparty engines, it was eventually confirmed that the engine configuration submitted for testing differed from that available by default to users."
United Kingdom

UK High Court Orders Block On Popcorn Time 92

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-mocie-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Five ISPs have been given orders by the UK High Court to restrict access to sites offering downloads of popular movie streaming service Popcorn Time – a move which follows complaints from the Motion Picture Association referring to the software's use as a platform for viewing pirated content. According to the new regulation, Virgin, BT, Sky, EE and TalkTalk are now required to block access to popcorntime.io, flixtor.me, popcorntime.se and isoplex.isohunt.to – all sites which link to Popcorn Time downloads. In the High Court order, Justice Birss cites under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, that the 'Popcorn Time application is used in order to watch pirated content on the internet.' Popcorn Time operates as a BitTorrent client, despite its slick user interface, and is used mainly for illegal content – although, as its supporters argue, it is also a handy tool for streaming public domain films. It is unclear how successful the ban will be – the blocked sites are not the only places to find Popcorn Time online. Additionally, at ISP level, it will be challenging to monitor as there is not a single version or developer to seek out, with the code available as open source.
Security

Once a Forgotten Child, OpenSSL's Future Now Looks Bright 76

Posted by samzenpus
from the shot-in-the-arm dept.
Trailrunner7 writes: Rarely does anything have a defined turning point in its history, a single day where people can point and say that was the day everything changed. For OpenSSL, that day was April 7, 2014, the day that Heartbleed became part of the security lexicon. Heartbleed was a critical vulnerability in the venerable crypto library. OpenSSL is everywhere, in tens of thousands of commercial and homespun software projects. And so too, as of last April, was Heartbleed, an Internet-wide bug that leaked enough memory that a determined hacker could piece together anything from credentials to encryption keys.

"Two years ago, it was a night-and-day difference. Two years ago, aside from our loyal user community, we were invisible. No one knew we existed," says Steve Marquess, cofounder, president and business manager of the OpenSSL Foundation, the corporate entity that handles commercial contracting for OpenSSL. "OpenSSL is used everywhere: hundreds, thousands of vendors use it; every smartphone uses it. Everyone took that for granted; most companies have no clue they even used it." To say OpenSSL has been flipped on its head—in a good way—is an understatement.

Heartbleed made the tech world realize that the status quo wasn't healthy to the security and privacy of ecommerce transactions and communication worldwide. Shortly after Heartbleed, the Core Infrastructure Initiative was created, uniting The Linux Foundation, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Dell, Google and other large technology companies in funding various open source projects. OpenSSL was the first beneficiary, getting enough money to hire Dr. Steve Henson and Andy Polyakov as its first full-timers. Henson, who did not return a request to be interviewed for this article, is universally known as the one steady hand that kept OpenSSL together, an unsung hero of the project who along with other volunteers handled bug reports, code reviews and changes.
United States

US Switches Air Traffic Control To New Computer System 160

Posted by samzenpus
from the upgrade-complete dept.
coondoggie writes: The Federal Aviation Administration this week said it had completed the momentous replacement of the 40-year-old main computer systems that control air traffic in the US. Known as En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM), the system is expected to increase air traffic flow, improve automated navigation and strengthen aircraft conflict detection services, with the end result being increased safety and less flight congestion. The FAA said the Lockheed Martin-developed ERAM systems “uses nearly two million lines of computer code to process critical data for controllers, including aircraft identity, altitude, speed, and flight path. The system almost doubles the number of flights that can be tracked and displayed to controllers.”
Windows

Microsoft Integrates Autodesk's 3D Printing Platform Spark Into Windows 10 81

Posted by timothy
from the try-explaining-that-to-grandma dept.
An anonymous reader writes: At Microsoft's Build 2015 developer conference today, Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft vice president of developer and platform evangelism, announced new 3D printing features in Windows 10. More specifically, Autodesk Spark is being integrated into Microsoft's latest and greatest operating system. Spark is a platform for building 3D printing software, hardware, materials, and services. Adding it to Windows 10 is a big win for Autodesk.
United Kingdom

Windows XP Support Deal Not Renewed By UK Government, Leaves PCs Open To Attack 137

Posted by samzenpus
from the free-for-all dept.
girlmad writes: The government's one-year £5.5m Windows XP support deal with Microsoft has not been extended, sources have told V3, despite thousands of computers across Whitehall still running the ancient software, leaving them wide open to cyber attacks. It's still unclear when all government machines will be migrated to a newer OS.
IOS

Windows 10 Can Run Reworked Android and iOS Apps 223

Posted by samzenpus
from the welcome-to-the-party dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this interesting news from Microsoft. After months of rumors, Microsoft is revealing its plans to get mobile apps on Windows 10 today. While the company has been investigating emulating Android apps, it has settled on a different solution, or set of solutions, that will allow developers to bring their existing code to Windows 10. iOS and Android developers will be able to port their apps and games directly to Windows universal apps, and Microsoft is enabling this with two new software development kits. On the Android side, Microsoft is enabling developers to use Java and C++ code on Windows 10, and for iOS developers they'll be able to take advantage of their existing Objective C code. 'We want to enable developers to leverage their current code and current skills to start building those Windows applications in the Store, and to be able to extend those applications,' explained Microsoft's Terry Myerson during an interview with The Verge this morning.
Open Source

When Enthusiasm For Free Software Turns Ugly 177

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Bruce Byfield writes for Linux Magazine about the unfortunate side-effect of people being passionate about open source software: discussions about rival projects can get heated and turn ugly. "Why, for example, would I possibly to see OpenOffice humiliated? I prefer LibreOffice's releases, and — with some misgivings — the Free Software Foundation's philosophy and licensing over that of the Apache Foundation. I also question the efficiency of having two office suites so closely related to each other. Yet while exploring such issues may be news, I don't forget that, despite these differences, OpenOffice and the Apache Foundation still have the same general goals as LibreOffice or the Free Software Foundation. The same is true of other famous feuds. Why, because I have a personal preference for KDE, am I supposed to ignore GNOME's outstanding interface designs? Similarly, because I value Debian's stability and efforts at democracy, am I supposed to have a strong distaste for Ubuntu?"
China

China's Tencent Launches Smart Hardware OS To Rival Alibaba 22

Posted by timothy
from the diversity-in-approach dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Chinese internet and media giant Tencent Holdings has today launched an operating system for mobile devices such as internet-connected phones, TVs, smartwatches and other IoT products. Tencent Operating System (OS) TOS+ is open to all developers and manufacturers free of charge should they agree to share their revenue – a framework similar to Google's popular Android mobile OS. The new Tencent OS offering, which provides voice recognition and mobile payment systems, will rival other home-grown operating systems looking to conquer the smart hardware arena with connected wearables, TVs and smart homeware technology. These competitors include smartphone maker Xiaomi and Asia's largest internet company Alibaba, who hopes to see its recently launched Yun OS eventually installed on tens of millions of smartphones. The Chinese systems for mobile and hardware products provide an alternative to Google's services, which constantly face challenges across the country due to strict censorship and licensing laws.
Privacy

New Privacy Threat: Automated Vehicle Occupancy Detection 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the shades-of-minority-report dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation is warning against a new potential privacy threat: cameras that look inside cars and try to identify how many people are inside. This technology is a natural combination of simpler ones that have existed for years: basic object recognition software and road-side cameras (red light cameras, speeding cameras, license plate readers — you name it). Of course, we can extrapolate just a bit further, and point out that as soon as the cameras have high enough resolution, they can start running face recognition algorithms on the images, and determine the identities of a vehicle's occupants.

"The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), a government umbrella group that develops transportation and public safety initiatives across the San Diego County region, estimates that 15% of drivers in High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes aren't supposed to be there. After coming up short with earlier experimental projects, the agency is now testing a brand new technology to crack down on carpool-lane scofflaws on the I-15 freeway. ... In short: the technology is looking at your image, the image of the people you're with, your location, and your license plate. (SANDAG told CBS the systems will not be storing license plate data during the trial phase and the system will, at least for now, automatically redact images of drivers and passengers. Xerox's software, however, allows police the option of using a weaker form of redaction that can be reversed on request.)"