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The Military

US Navy Sells 'Top Gun' Aircraft Carrier For One Penny 90

Posted by timothy
from the nostalgia-for-war-porn dept.
HughPickens.com writes Kitsap Sun reports at Military.com that the USS Ranger, a 1,050-foot-long, 56,000-ton Forrestal-class aircraft carrier, is being towed from the inactive ship maintenance facility at Puget Sound for a 3,400-mile, around-Cape Horn voyage to a Texas dismantler who acquired the Vietnam-era warship for a penny for scrap metal. "Under the contract, the company will be paid $0.01. The price reflects the net price proposed by International Shipbreaking, which considered the estimated proceeds from the sale of the scrap metal to be generated from dismantling," said officials for NAVSEA. "[One cent] is the lowest price the Navy could possibly have paid the contractor for towing and dismantling the ship."

The Ranger was commissioned Aug. 10, 1957, at Norfolk Naval Shipyard and decommissioned July 10, 1993, after more than 35 years of service. It was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on March 8, 2004, and redesignated for donation. After eight years on donation hold, the USS Ranger Foundation was unable to raise the funds to convert the ship into a museum or to overcome the physical obstacles of transporting the ship up the Columbia River to Fairview, Oregon. As a result, the Ranger was removed from the list of ships available for donation and designated for dismantling. The Navy, which can't retain inactive ships indefinitely, can't donate a vessel unless the application fully meets the Navy's minimum requirements. The Ranger had been in pristine condition, but for a week in August volunteers from other naval museums were allowed to remove items to improve their ships. The Ranger was in a slew of movies and television shows, including "The Six Million Dollar Man," "Flight of the Intruder" and "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" where it stood in for the USS Enterprise carrier. But the Ranger's most famous role was in the 1980's Tom Cruise hit, "Top Gun." "We would have liked to have seen it become a museum, but it just wasn't in the cards," Navy spokesman Chris Johnson told Fox. "But unfortunately, it is a difficult proposition to raise funds. The group that was going to collect donations had a $35 million budget plan but was only able to raise $100,000."
Facebook

Federal Judge: Facebook Must Face Suit For Scanning Messages 43

Posted by timothy
from the we-were-only-doing-the-usual-peeking dept.
Rambo Tribble writes U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton on Tuesday denied Facebook's bid to dismiss a class-action lawsuit against the social media giant for violating users' privacy through the scanning of message content. In her rejection of Facebook's argument, the judge said the firm had, "...not offered a sufficient explanation of how the challenged practice falls within the ordinary course of its business."
Businesses

How Target's Mobile App Uses Location Tech To Track You 50

Posted by timothy
from the bullseye-on-your-back dept.
An anonymous reader writes Big-box retailers are figuring out how to use mobile apps to drive in-store sales, but they're also concerned about privacy. To see how they're doing, Xconomy took Target's app for a spin on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. The app uses indoor location-mapping technology from a startup called Point Inside. The verdict? The app saved a few minutes in locating items around the store, but it would work better if it knew where shoppers (and the items on their lists) are at any time. With Apple's iBeacons set to roll out more widely, retail privacy will be a hot issue in 2015.
Government

North Korean Defector Spills Details On the Country's Elite Hacking Force 142

Posted by timothy
from the can't-hack-in-here-this-is-the-hacking-room dept.
mattydread23 writes Business Insider interviewed Jang Se-yul, a North Korean defector who trained in the country's Mirim University alongside some of the hackers who make up its elite Bureau 121 hacking squad. He explains how they train: 'They take six 90-minute classes every day, learning different coding languages and operating systems, from C to Linux. Jang says a lot of time was spent dissecting Microsoft programs, like the Windows operating system, and how to attack the overall computer IT systems of enemy countries like the U.S. or South Korea.' He also explains that these hackers are among the elite in North Korea, and even though they have unfiltered information about the outside world that their countrymen lack, most of them would never dream of leaving. (See also this story from earlier this month about the life of North Korea's elite hackers.)
The Military

DARPA Wants Help Building a Drone That Flies Like a Hawk 36

Posted by timothy
from the why-not-spiders-like-in-minority-report dept.
DillyTonto writes DARPA has put out a call for ideas on how to build a fast, autonomous, maneuverable UAV that can fly up to 45 mph, navigate without assistance from humans or GPS into and through buildings that are a labyrinth of stairwells, small rooms, narrow hallways and terrorists. DARPA wants this drone to fly like the bird in this awesome hawk POV video that shows it shooting through gaps narrow enough it has to tuck its wings to get through. If you can watch the video without thinking of the forest moon of Endor, there may be some movies you should watch over the holidays.
Crime

Russian Hackers Stole Millions From Banks, ATMs 49

Posted by timothy
from the where-the-money-is dept.
An anonymous reader writes Tens of millions of dollars, credit cards and intellectual property was stolen by a new group of cyber criminals. Group-IB and Fox-IT, in a joint research effort, have released a report about the Anunak hackers group (PDF). This group has been involved in targeted attacks and espionage since 2013. Anunak targets banks and payment systems in Russia and CIS countries. In Europe, the U.S., and Latin America, criminals were mainly focusing on retail networks as well as mass media resources. Anunak is unique in that it aims to target banks and e-payment systems. The goal is to get into bank networks and gain access to secured payment systems. As a result, the money is stolen not from the customers, but from the bank itself. If they manage to infect governmental networks, they use the infrastructure for espionage.
Google

Google Motion Denied In Lawsuit Against Mississippi Attorney General 21

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-a-deep-breath dept.
An anonymous reader points out that a judge has called a time-out on a case between Google and Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. "A federal judge has denied Google's motion to block enforcement of a subpoena issued by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood that seeks information from Google about parts of its operations, including information about advertising for imported prescription drugs. Federal court records also show U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate put Google's response to the subpoena on hold until after the new year. Wingate scheduled a Feb. 13 hearing for further discussions on Google's motion. He asked attorneys for both sides to file new briefs in January."
United Kingdom

UK Man Arrested Over "Offensive" Tweet 335

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-your-mouth dept.
mooterSkooter writes A 19-year-old Uk man has been arrested over an "offensive" tweet about an accident in which six people died. From the article: "The tweet, which has since been deleted along with the account that posted it, joked about the tragedy, in which the driver lost control of the vehicle and drove on the pavement, hitting Christmas shoppers 'like pinballs.' The tweet said: 'So a bin lorry has apparently driven in 100 people in Glasgow eh, probably the most trash it's picked up in one day.'"
Sony

Sony To Release the Interview Online Today; Apple Won't Play Ball 223

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-it-now dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports: "Sony Pictures is to distribute its film The Interview online, after a cyber-attack and a row over its release. The film will be offered on a dedicated website — seetheinterview.com — as well as via Google and Microsoft services." Notably absent among the services to provide The Interview is Apple. The New York Times reports: "According to people briefed on the matter, Sony had in recent days asked the White House for help in lining up a single technology partner — Apple, which operates iTunes — but the tech company was not interested, at least not on a speedy time table. An Apple spokesman declined to comment. "
DRM

How Laws Restricting Tech Actually Expose Us To Greater Harm 109

Posted by Soulskill
from the defective-by-design dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Cory Doctorow has an article in Wired explaining why crafting laws to restrict software is going to hurt us in the long run. The reason? Because we're on an irreversible trajectory toward integrating technology with our cars and houses, bodies and brains. If we don't control the software, then at some point, we won't control parts of our homes and our selves. Doctorow writes, "Any law or regulation that undermines computers' utility or security also ripples through all the systems that have been colonized by the general-purpose computer. And therein lies the potential for untold trouble and mischief.

Code always has flaws, and those flaws are easy for bad guys to find. But if your computer has deliberately been designed with a blind spot, the bad guys will use it to evade detection by you and your antivirus software. That's why a 3-D printer with anti-gun-printing code isn't a 3-D printer that won't print guns—the bad guys will quickly find a way around that. It's a 3-D printer that is vulnerable to hacking by malware creeps who can use your printer's 'security' against you: from bricking your printer to screwing up your prints to introducing subtle structural flaws to simply hijacking the operating system and using it to stage attacks on your whole network."
Crime

Study: Police Body-Cams Reduce Unacceptable Use of Force 350

Posted by Soulskill
from the big-brother-watching-big-brother dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Incidents like the Michael Brown case have recently put police body-worn cameras into the public consciousness, but they're not a new idea to criminology experts. In fact, researchers at Cambridge began a study in 2012 using law enforcement in Rialto, California as a test bed. Their results are now in: "The experiment showed that evidence capture is just one output of body-worn video, and the technology is perhaps most effective at actually preventing escalation during police-public interactions: whether that's abusive behavior towards police or unnecessary use-of-force by police." The simple knowledge that both parties are being watched puts a damper on violence. "During the 12-month Rialto experiment, use-of-force by officers wearing cameras fell by 59% and reports against officers dropped by 87% against the previous year's figures." This was enough for the city of Rialto to decide it wants to move forward with body-worn cameras; hopefully the study will encourage other police departments as well.
Android

De-escalating the Android Patent War 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-bilk-the-USPTO-together dept.
In 2011, a consortium formed from Microsoft, Apple, Sony, BlackBerry, and others spent $4.5 billion acquiring Nortel's patent portfolio, which contained a great deal of ammunition that could be used against Android. That threat has now been reduced. Today, 4,000 of the patents were purchased by a corporation called RPX, which has licensing agreements from Google, Cisco, and dozens more companies. [RPX is] a company that collects a bunch of patents with the goal of using those patents for member companies for defensive purposes. Even though RPX has generally been "good," the business model basically lives because of patent trolling. Its very existence is because of all the patent trolling and abuse out there. In this case, though, it's making sure that basically anyone can license these patents under FRAND (fair and reasonable, non-discriminatory) rates. The price being paid is approximately $900 million. While that article points out that this is considerably less than the $4.5 billion Microsoft and Apple paid originally, again, this is only 4,000 of the 6,000 patents, and you have to assume the 2,000 the other companies kept were the really valuable patents. In short, this is basically Google and Cisco (with some help from a few others) licensing these patents to stop the majority of the lawsuits -- while also making sure that others can pay in as well should they feel threatened. Of course, Microsoft, Apple and the others still have control over the really good patents they kept for themselves, rather than give to Rockstar. And the whole thing does nothing for innovation other than shift around some money.
Businesses

Comcast-TWC Merger Review On Hold 82

Posted by Soulskill
from the checking-their-bona-fides dept.
An anonymous reader writes: When the U.S. Federal Communications Commission began reviewing the merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, it imposed a 180-day deadline on the review process. The agency has now pushed that deadline back a few weeks after learning that TWC withheld over 7,000 documents they shouldn't have. TWC originally claimed the documents fall under attorney-client privilege, but that appears not to be the case.

Perhaps more disturbing, the article says another 31,000 documents "went missing" because of a vendor error. (Perhaps even more disturbing is that this is a drop in the bucket compared to the sum total of information TWC dumped on the FCC — apparently over 5 million pages. How they can be expected to properly review that much material is beyond me.)

The FCC is also ready to close the public comment period for the merger, during which over 600,000 comments were filed. Critics are making their final arguments and Comcast is tallying up all the nice things people (and paid public relations agencies) had to say.
Networking

Hotel Group Asks FCC For Permission To Block Some Outside Wi-Fi 290

Posted by timothy
from the just-baby-steps dept.
alphadogg writes The FCC will soon decide whether to lay down rules regarding hotels' ability to block personal Wi-Fi hotspots inside their buildings, a practice that recently earned Marriott International a $600,000 fine. Back in August, Marriott, business partner Ryman Hospitality Properties and trade group the American Hotel and Lodging Association asked the FCC to clarify when hotels can block outside Wi-Fi hotspots in order to protect their internal Wi-Fi services. From elsewhere in the article: During the comment period, several groups called for the agency to deny the hotel group’s petition. The FCC made clear in October that blocking outside Wi-Fi hotspots is illegal, Google’s lawyers wrote in a comment. “While Google recognizes the importance of leaving operators flexibility to manage their own networks, this does not include intentionally blocking access to other commission-authorized networks, particularly where the purpose or effect of that interference is to drive traffic to the interfering operator’s own network,” they wrote.
United Kingdom

BT, Sky, and Virgin Enforce UK Porn Blocks By Hijacking Browsers 290

Posted by timothy
from the big-enough-to-give-you-what-you-want dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this story at Ars Technica, excerpting: BT, Sky, and Virgin Media are hijacking people's web connections to force customers to make a decision about family-friendly web filters. The move comes as the December deadline imposed by prime minister David Cameron looms, with ISPs struggling to get customers to say yes or no to the controversial adult content blocks. The messages, which vary by ISP, appear during browser sessions when a user tries to access any website. BT, Sky,TalkTalk and Virgin Media are required to ask all their customers if they want web filters turned on or off, with the government saying it wants to create a "family friendly" Internet free from pornography, gambling, extreme violence and other content inappropriate for children. But the measures being taken by ISPs have been described as "completely unnecessary" and "heavy handed" by Internet rights groups. The hijacking works by intercepting requests for unencrypted websites and rerouting a user to a different page. ISPs are using the technique to communicate with all undecided customers. Attempting to visit WIRED.co.uk, for example, could result in a user being redirected to a page asking them about web filtering. ISPs cannot intercept requests for encrypted websites in the same way.
Movies

'Citizenfour' Producers Sued Over Edward Snowden Leaks 161

Posted by Soulskill
from the indicting-a-ham-sandwich dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this news from The Hollywood Reporter: Horace Edwards, who identifies himself as a retired naval officer and the former secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation, has filed a lawsuit in Kansas federal court that seeks a constructive trust over monies derived from the distribution of Citizenfour. Edwards ... seeks to hold Snowden, director Laura Poitras, The Weinstein Co., Participant Media and others responsible for "obligations owed to the American people" and "misuse purloined information disclosed to foreign enemies." It's an unusual lawsuit, one that the plaintiff likens to "a derivative action on behalf of the American Public," and is primarily based upon Snowden's agreement with the United States to keep confidentiality. ... Edwards appears to be making the argument that Snowden's security clearance creates a fiduciary duty of loyalty — one that was allegedly breached by Snowden's participation in the production of Citizenfour without allowing prepublication clearance review. As for the producers and distributors, they are said to be "aiding and abetting the theft and misuse of stolen government documents." The lawsuit seeks a constructive trust to redress the alleged unjust enrichment by the film. A 1980 case that involved a former CIA officer's book went up to the Supreme Court and might have opened the path to such a remedy.
The Internet

Comcast's Lobbyists Hand Out VIP Cards To Skip the Customer Service Wait 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the a-charmed-existence dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A lengthy story about how David Gregory lost his job hosting Meet the Press holds an interesting tidbit: Comcast's team of lobbyists regularly hands out VIP cards to influential (and influence-able) people in Washington that lets them bypass normal customer service and fast-track their support problems. "Its government-affairs team carried around 'We'll make it right' cards stamped with 'priority assistance' codes for fast-tracking help and handed them out to congressional staffers, journalists, and other influential Washingtonians who complained about their service. A Comcast spokeswoman says this practice isn't exclusive to DC; every Comcast employee receives the cards, which they can distribute to any customer with cable or internet trouble. Nevertheless, efforts like this one have surely helped Comcast boost its standing inside the Beltway and improve its chances of winning regulatory approval for its next big conquest: merging with the second-largest cable provider in the country, Time Warner Cable." (The David Gregory article is worth a look on it's own, too; it shows how Comcast's purchase of NBC has led to interference in NBC's attempts at real journalism.)
Patents

Uber Pushing For Patent On Surge Pricing 183

Posted by Soulskill
from the efficiently-separating-you-from-your-money dept.
mpicpp sends news that Uber is renewing its push for a patent on "surge pricing," the practice of increasing rider fees when many people are trying to find transportation. The system measures supply (Uber drivers) and demand (passengers hailing rides with smartphones), and prices fares accordingly. It’s one of at least 13 U.S. patent applications filed by Uber or its founders to give it an edge over potential rivals ahead of a potential initial public offering. So far, Uber hasn’t had any luck. Ten applications were initially rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for “obviousness” or for covering something not eligible for protection.
Piracy

Pirate Bay Domain Back Online 40

Posted by samzenpus
from the we're-back dept.
Zanadou writes On December 9 The Pirate Bay was raided but despite the rise of various TPB clones and rumors of reincarnations, thepiratebay.se domain remained inaccessible, until today. This morning the Pirate Bay's nameservers were updated to ones controlled by their domain name registrar binero.se . A few minutes later came another big change when The Pirate Bay's main domain started pointing to a new IP-address (178.175.135.122) that is connected to a server hosted in Moldova. So far there is not much to see, just a background video of a waving pirate flag (taken from Isohunt.to) and a counter displaying the time elapsed since the December 9 raid. However, the "AES string" looks promising.
The Courts

Argentine Court Rules Orangutan Is a "Non-Human Person" 183

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-wanna-be-like-you-hoo-hoo dept.
First time accepted submitter Andrio writes In an unprecedented decision, an Argentine court has ruled that the Sumatran orangutan 'Sandra', who has spent 20 years at the zoo in Argentina's capital Buenos Aires, should be recognized as a person with a right to freedom. The ruling, signed by the judges unanimously, would see Sandra freed from captivity and transferred to a nature sanctuary in Brazil after a court recognized the primate as a "non-human person" which has some basic human rights. The Buenos Aires zoo has 10 working days to seek an appeal." A similar case involving chimpanzees failed to provide "non-human person" status here in the U.S. earlier this month.

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