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Software

Samsung Faces Lawsuit In China Over Smartphone Bloatware 75 75

An anonymous reader writes: Samsung is being sued in China for installing too many apps onto its smartphones. The Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission is also suing Chinese vendor Oppo, demanding that the industry do more to rein in bloatware. The group said complaints are on the rise from smartphone users who are frustrated that these apps take up too much storage and download data without the user being aware. Out of a study of 20 smartphones, Samsung and Oppo were found to be the worst culprits. A model of Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 contained 44 pre-installed apps that could not be removed from the device, while Oppo's X9007 phone had 71.
Data Storage

Where Facebook Stores 900 Million New Photos Per Day 120 120

1sockchuck writes: Facebook faces unique storage challenges. Its users upload 900 million new images daily, most of which are only viewed for a couple of days. The social network has built specialized cold storage facilities to manage these rarely-accessed photos. Data Center Frontier goes inside this facility, providing a closer look at Facebook's newest strategy: Using thousands of Blu-Ray disks to store images, complete with a robotic retrieval system (see video demo). Others are interested as well. Sony recently acquired a Blu-Ray storage startup founded by Open Compute chairman Frank Frankovsky, which hopes to drive enterprise adoption of optical data storage.
Power

Bill Gates Investing $2 Billion In Renewables 288 288

An anonymous reader writes: Bill Gates has dumped a billion dollars into renewables, and now he's ready to double down. Gates announced he will increase his investment in renewable energy technologies to $2 billion in an attempt to "bend the curve" on limiting climate change. He is focusing on risky investments that favor "breakthrough" technologies because he thinks incremental improvements to existing tech won't be enough to meet energy needs while avoiding a climate catastrophe. He says, "There's no battery technology that's even close to allowing us to take all of our energy from renewables and be able to use battery storage in order to deal not only with the 24-hour cycle but also with long periods of time where it's cloudy and you don't have sun or you don't have wind. Power is about reliability. We need to get something that works reliably." At the same time, Gates rejected calls to divest himself and his charitable foundation of investments in fossil fuel companies.
Power

Samsung Nanotech Breakthrough Nearly Doubles Li-Ion Battery Capacity 131 131

The Korea Times reports that Samsung researchers have published in Nature Communications the results of research (here's the abstract) that could lead to vastly greater storage capacity for lithium-ion batteries. The researchers, by growing graphene on silicon anodes, were able to preserve the shape of the anodes, an outcome which has formerly eluded battery designers: silicon tends to deform over numerous charging cycles. From the linked abstract: Here we report direct graphene growth over silicon nanoparticles without silicon carbide formation. The graphene layers anchored onto the silicon surface accommodate the volume expansion of silicon via a sliding process between adjacent graphene layers. When paired with a commercial lithium cobalt oxide cathode, the silicon carbide-free graphene coating allows the full cell to reach volumetric energy densities of 972 and 700Whl1 at first and 200th cycle, respectively, 1.8 and 1.5 times higher than those of current commercial lithium-ion batteries. Also at ZDNet.
Encryption

Ask Slashdot: Keeping Cloud Data Encrypted Without Cross-Platform Pain? 107 107

bromoseltzer writes: I use cloud storage to hold many gigs of personal files that I'd just as soon were not targets for casual data mining. (Google: I'm thinking of you.) I want to access them from Linux, Windows, and Android devices. I have been using encfs, which does the job for Linux fairly well (despite some well-known issues), but Windows and Android don't seem to have working clients. I really want to map a file system of encrypted files and encrypted names to a local unencrypted filesystem — the way encfs works. What solutions do Slashdot readers recommend? Ideal would be a competitive cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive that provides trustworthy encryption with suitable clients. Is there anything like that?
Data Storage

When Will Your Hard Drive Fail? 297 297

jfruh writes: Tech writer Andy Patrizio suffered his most catastrophic hard drive failure in 25 years of computing recently, which prompted him to delve into the questions of which hard drives fail and when. One intriguing theory behind some failure rates involve a crisis in the industry that arose from the massive 2011 floods in Thailand, home to the global hard drive industry.
Sony

Sony Releasing New 1TB PlayStation 4 In July 98 98

Mark Wilson writes: Known as the 1TB PS4 Ultimate Player Edition (or PlayStation 4 Ultimate Player 1TB Edition depending on who you're talking to), Sony is launching a new PlayStation 4 next month. With the ever-growing market for downloadable content, it's difficult to have too much disk space. Recognizing this, Sony is doubling the size of the largest capacity PS4. The 1TB console will launch next month in the US, Asia and Europe, and the announcement comes just weeks after Microsoft announced a 1TB version of its Xbox One. Gamers in Japan will be able to get their hands on the console by the end of June, but the rest of the world will have to wait until July 15. There's no word on pricing, but Sony has detailed a few other changes that have been made to this version of the console.
Data Storage

1 In 3 Data Center Servers Is a Zombie 107 107

dcblogs writes with these snippets from a ComputerWorld story about a study that says nearly a third of all data-center servers are are comatose ("using energy but delivering no useful information"). What's remarkable is this percentage hasn't changed since 2008, when a separate study showed the same thing. ... A server is considered comatose if it hasn't done anything for at least six months. The high number of such servers "is a massive indictment of how data centers are managed and operated," said Jonathan Koomey, a research fellow at Stanford University, who has done data center energy research for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "It's not a technical issue as much as a management issue."
Music

UK's Legalization of CD Ripping Is Unlawful, Court Rules 301 301

Last year the UK finally passed legislation to make the copying and ripping of CDs for personal use legal. After the legislation passed, several groups of rightsholders applied for a judicial review, arguing that the change would cause financial harm to them. (They suggested an alternative: taxing blank CDs and storage devices, sharing the resulting funds among rightsholders.) Now, the UK's High Court issued a ruling that agrees with them: "the decision to introduce section 28B [private copying] in the absence of a compensation mechanism is unlawful." The exceptions in place for private copying are now unlawful, and the UK government will need to amend the legislation if it is to have any meaningful effect.
United Kingdom

British Government Instituted 3-Month Deletion Policy, Apparently To Evade FOIA 86 86

An anonymous reader writes: In late 2004, weeks before Tony Blair's Freedom of Information (FOI) act first came into force, Downing Street adopted a policy of automatically deleting emails more than three months old (paywalled). The IT decision has resulted in a "dysfunctional" system according to former cabinet officials, with Downing Street workers struggling to agree on the details of meetings in the absence of a correspondence chain. It is still possible to preserve an email by dragging it to local storage, but the relevance of mails may not be apparent at the time that the worker must make the decision to do so. Former special adviser to Nick Clegg Sean Kemp said: "Some people delete their emails on an almost daily basis, others just try to avoid putting anything potentially interesting in an email in the first place."
Data Storage

TRIM and Linux: Tread Cautiously, and Keep Backups Handy 182 182

An anonymous reader writes: Algolia is a buzzword-compliant ("Hosted Search API that delivers instant and relevant results") start-up that uses a lot of open-source software (including various strains of Linux) and a lot of solid-state disk, and as such sometimes runs into problems with each of these. Their blog this week features a fascinating look at troubles that they faced with ext4 filesystems mysteriously flipping to read-only mode: not such a good thing for machines processing a search index, not just dishing it out. "The NGINX daemon serving all the HTTP(S) communication of our API was up and ready to serve the search queries but the indexing process crashed. Since the indexing process is guarded by supervise, crashing in a loop would have been understandable but a complete crash was not. As it turned out the filesystem was in a read-only mode. All right, let's assume it was a cosmic ray :) The filesystem got fixed, files were restored from another healthy server and everything looked fine again. The next day another server ended with filesystem in read-only, two hours after another one and then next hour another one. Something was going on. After restoring the filesystem and the files, it was time for serious analysis since this was not a one time thing.

The rest of the story explains how they isolated the problem and worked around it; it turns out that the culprit was TRIM, or rather TRIM's interaction with certain SSDs: "The system was issuing a TRIM to erase empty blocks, the command got misinterpreted by the drive and the controller erased blocks it was not supposed to. Therefore our files ended-up with 512 bytes of zeroes, files smaller than 512 bytes were completely zeroed. When we were lucky enough, the misbehaving TRIM hit the super-block of the filesystem and caused a corruption."

Since SSDs are becoming the norm outside the data center as well as within, some of the problems that their analysis exposed for one company probably would be good to test for elsewhere. One upshot: "As a result, we informed our server provider about the affected SSDs and they informed the manufacturer. Our new deployments were switched to different SSD drives and we don't recommend anyone to use any SSD that is anyhow mentioned in a bad way by the Linux kernel."
Hardware

Ask Slashdot: What Hardware Is In Your Primary Computer? 558 558

An anonymous reader writes: Here's something we haven't done in a while: list the specs of your main system (best one) so we can see what kinds of computers Slashdot geeks use. Context would be interesting, too — if you're up for it, explain how and why you set it up as you did, as well as the computer's primary purpose(s). Things you can list include (but are not limited to): CPU, motherboard, video card, memory, storage (SSD/HDD), exotic Controllers (RAID or caching), optical drives, displays, peripherals, etc. We can compare and contrast, see what specs are suitable for what purposes, and perhaps learn a trick or two.
Data Storage

How To Store Your Data For 1 Million Years 110 110

Whiteox writes with Fast Company's article about Robert Grass and his team, which is exploring how to use DNA as a data storage mechanism, along with others working on truly long-term storage. Both commercial interests and academic researchers are interested in protecting data not just for years or decades, but for multi-century stretches, right out into the millions. From the article: The idea of storing information on DNA traces back to a Soviet lab in the 1960s, but the first successful implementation wasn't achieved until 2012, when biologist George Church and his colleagues announced in the journal Science that they had encoded one of Church's books in DNA. More recently, reports the New Yorker, the artist Joe Davis, now in residence at Church's lab, has announced plans to encode bits of Wikipedia into a particularly old strain of apple, so that he can create "a living, literal tree of knowledge. "Impressive," writes Whiteox, "but I wonder if our future selves can make life from our archived data?"
Hardware

NAND Flash Shrinks To 15/16nm Process, Further Driving Prices Down 60 60

Lucas123 writes: Both Micron and Toshiba are producing NAND flash memory based on 15 and 16 nanometer process technology, which reduces die area over a 16GB MLC chip by 28% compared with previous die technology. Additionally, Micron announced its upcoming consumer USB flash drives and internal SSDs will also use triple-level cell NAND flash (a technology expected to soon dominate the market) storing three bits instead of two for the first time and further reducing production cost. The advancement in NAND flash density has been driving SSD pricing down dramatically over the past few years. In fact, over the last year, the average price for 128GB and 256GB SSDs have dropped to $50 and $90, respectively, for system manufacturers, according to DRAMeXchange. And prices for consumers have dropped to an average of $91.55 for a 128GB SSD and $164.34 for a 256GB SSD.
Security

New SOHO Router Security Audit Uncovers Over 60 Flaws In 22 Models 66 66

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.