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+ - Appeals Judge Calls Prenda an "Ingenuous Crooked Extortionate Operation"

Submitted by ktetch-pirate
ktetch-pirate writes: Today was the long-awaited appeals court hearing in the ongoing Prenda copyright troll saga. Almost exactly two years after Judge Otis Wright went sci-fi on Prenda and its principles, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held an appeals hearing requested by Prenda on the sanctions, and it was not a pretty day for Prenda. Highlights included Senior Judge Pregerson calling Prenda's operation an "Ingenuous Crooked Extortionate Operation" after describing in detail how they operate.

Prenda also astonished the judges by welcoming the idea of a criminal contempt hearing, which Legal blog Popehat thinks is likely to happen, on top of the sanctions being sustained.

+ - Congressional liberals, conservatives unite against NSA spying->

Submitted by SonicSpike
SonicSpike writes: In an ornate room on the first floor of the Capitol, some of the most liberal members of Congress met for lunch on Thursday with nearly a dozen stalwart conservatives who’ve repeatedly taken on their own leadership for being too soft.

The agenda consisted of a single topic, perhaps the only one that would bring together such ideologically divergent politicians in Washington at this moment: their shared disdain for the PATRIOT Act.

With key provisions of the controversial post-9/11 law set to expire at the end of the month, including authority for the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, critics in both parties are preparing to strike. Among those on hand for the meeting were Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan, a card-carrying ACLU member from the liberal mecca of Madison, Wisconsin, and GOP Rep. Thomas Massie, a tea party adherent from Kentucky.

Along with Pocan and Massie, the Thursday gathering drew Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.). The lawmakers, many of them privacy zealots with libertarian leanings, discussed the USA Freedom Act, bipartisan legislation that would rein in the bulk collection of telephone records and reauthorize expiring anti-terror surveillance provisions in the PATRIOT Act.

“We are definitely making it a bipartisan effort because we believe there are people on both sides of the aisle who are interested in protecting the rights of Americans,” Amash said.

Democrats and libertarian-minded Republicans want changes that go beyond what’s currently on the table, but it’s unclear whether they have the numbers. Massie and Amash are key players in a growing conservative bloc of the Republican caucus that in the past has forced Boehner and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to alter legislation that didn’t pass conservative muster.

“People are going to have to make a decision if there are enough real reforms in there to make it worth reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act,” Massie said. “I don’t think the reforms are significant enough.”

“The onus is really on [Republican and Democratic leaders] to have something in place if this is going to run out and they need to reauthorize something,” the Republican added. “We’re trying to figure out how to get a better, stronger [bill] that protects privacy rights.”

Link to Original Source

+ - Two Gunman Killed Outside "Draw the Prophet" Event in Texas-> 2

Submitted by cosm
cosm writes: ABC news reports that two armed gunman were shot and killed outside a "Draw the Prophet" event hosted in Garland Texas.

From the article: "The event, sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, featured cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, and scheduled speakers included Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who has campaigned to have the Quran banned in the Netherlands. The winner of the contest was to receive $10,000."

In light of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks, the Lars Vilks Muhammad drawing controversies, and the American show South Park's satirical depiction of the state of Muhammad phobia in the US and elsewhere, is there an end in sight to the madness associated with the representation of this religious figure?

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+ - CareerBuilder cyberattack delivers malware straight to employers->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Security threat researchers Proofpoint have uncovered an email-based phishing attack which infected businesses with malware via the CareerBuilder online job search website. The attack involved the hacker browsing job adverts across the platform and uploading malicious files during the application process, titling the documents “resume.doc” and “cv.doc.” Once the CV was submitted, an automatic email notification was sent to the business advertising the position, along with the uploaded document. In this case, Proofpoint found that as a business opens the automatic email from CareerBuilder to view the attached file the document plays on a known Word vulnerability to sneak a malicious code onto the victim’s computer. According to the threat research group, the manual attack technique although time-consuming has a higher success rate than automated tools as the email attachments are more likely to be opened by the receiver.
Link to Original Source

+ - AT&T bills 83-yr old customer $24,298.93 for landline dial-up service->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber writes: 83-year-old Woodland Hills, California resident Ron Dorff usually pays $51 a month to AT&T for a landline, which he uses to access the Internet via an old-school, low-speed AOL dial-up subscription.... but then, in March, AT&T sent him a bill for $8,596.57. He called AT&T and their service rep couldn't make heads or tails of the bill, so she said she'd send a technician to his house. None came, so Dorff figured that everything was ok.

Dorff's next monthly bill was for $15,687.64, bringing his total outstanding debt to AT&T, including late fees, to $24,298.93. If he didn't pay by May 8, AT&T warned, his bill would rise to at least $24,786.16. Droff then called David Lazarus, business columnist for the LA Times, who got in touch with AT&T, who wasted little time in deciding it would waive the more than $24,000 in charges.

AT&T spokeshole Georgia Taylor claims Dorff's modem somehow had started dialing a long-distance number when it accessed AOL, and the per-minute charges went into orbit as he stayed connected for hours.

AT&T declined to answer the LA Times questions about why AT&T didn't spot the problem itself and proactively take steps to fix things? AT&T also declined to elaborate on whether AT&T's billing system is capable of spotting unusual charges and, if so, why it doesn't routinely do so.

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+ - Grooveshark Shuts Down->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Grooveshark, one of the most popular music streaming websites, has announced that they are shutting down immediately. Several lawsuits from the record companies pushed the company out of business. In a notice posted on the Grooveshark website, its two founders said, "[D]espite best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes. We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service. That was wrong. We apologize. Without reservation." All of their music has been deleted, and the site itself now belongs to the record companies.
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+ - Mars Rover Curiosity Spotted from Space (Photo)->

Submitted by The Grim Reefer
The Grim Reefer writes: NASA's eagle-eyed Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has captured a view of the space agency's Curiosity rover trundling across the Red Planet.

The new MRO photo was taken by the spacecraft's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera (HiRISE) on April 8. It shows the car-size Curiosity rover cruising through a valley called Artist's Drive in the foothills of Mount Sharp.

Link to Original Source

+ - FBI Slammed On Capitol Hill For 'Stupid' Ideas About Encryption->

Submitted by blottsie
blottsie writes: At a hearing in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, the FBI endured outright hostility as both technical experts and members of Congress from both parties roundly criticized the law enforcement agency's desire to place so-called back doors into encryption technology.

"Creating a technological backdoor just for good guys is technologically stupid," said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a Stanford University computer science graduate. "That's just stupid."

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+ - Yes, You Can Blame Your Pointy-Haired Boss on the Peter Principle->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster writes: You've heard of the Peter Principle, which suggests that all employees manage to rise to the level of their incompetence. (That is to say, everybody is promoted until their skills and strengths no longer align with their current position.) While the Peter Principle is often treated as a truism, a recent Gallup study (registration required)—the result of four decades’ worth of research, involving 2.5 million manager-led teams—suggests that it holds a significant degree of real-world truth (registration required). “Gallup has found that only 10 percent of working people possess the talent to be a great manager,” the study mentions in its introduction. “Companies use outdated notions of succession to put people in these roles.” In Gallup’s estimation, there are so many bad managers out there that one out of every two employees have “left their job to get away,” according to the study. “Managers who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged cost the U.S. economy $319 billion to $398 billion annually.” In other words, there are a lot of pointy-haired managers out there.
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+ - EM Drive is now a real thing->

Submitted by thayfen
thayfen writes: NASA’s Johnson Space Center has successfully tested an electromagnetic (EM) propulsion drive in a vacuum-- we now have the potential to reach the outer-planets in months-long time-spans! Corporate America wants to build a pipe-line to Titan :(
Link to Original Source

+ - How one tweet wiped $8bn off Twitter's value

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Someone mistakenly published earnings information on a Nasdaq-run investor relations page for Twitter before the company officially released the news and it sent the stock into a tailspin. Initially the earnings statement went unnoticed, but soon a Tweet with the results got a lot of attention. The stock lost more than $8 billion at one point as news spread. "We asked the New York Stock Exchange to halt trading once we discovered our Q1 numbers were out, and we published our results as soon as possible thereafter," said Twitter's senior director for investor relations, Krista Bessinger. "Selerity, who provided the initial tweets with our results, informed us that earnings release was available on our Investor Relations site before the close of market. Nasdaq hosts and manages our IR website, and we explicitly instructed them not to release our results until after the market close and only upon our specific instructions, which is consistent with prior quarters. We are continuing to investigate with them exactly what occurred."

+ - Star 'Mass Grave' Surrounds Our Galaxy's Black Hole->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine writes: Astronomers have zoomed into an X-ray emission region immediately surrounding our galaxy’s supermassive black hole, gaining the highest X-ray resolution view to date, and it looks like they’ve stumbled on a mysterious place where stars go to die. Sagittarius A*, or Sgr A*, is the enigmatic compact radio source surrounding the supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy. The black hole, which has a mass 4 million times that of our sun, dominates this region with its extreme gravitational well. Many efforts have been carried out in an attempt to understand the population of stars and other stellar phenomena in the immediate vicinity of Sgr A*, but resolving features from such an extreme environment at a distance of 25,000 light-years is not easy. Through measurements of X-ray spectra from the black hole’s neighborhood, however, astronomers are gradually adding some detail to Sgr A*’s landscape and in new research published in the journal Nature, it seems there’s a strange population of ‘dead’ stars accumulated in the black hole’s shadow.
Link to Original Source

+ - Is it dark matter, or a previously unrecognized failure of Newton? 2

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 writes: The uncertainty of science: Using new data gathered by the 10-meter Keck telescope in Hawaii, astronomers have found that the outer stars of elliptical galaxies exhibit the same behavior as the outer stars of spirals, suggesting once again the existence of dark matter.

One of the most important scientific discoveries of the 20th century was that the spectacular spiral galaxies, such as our own Milky Way, rotate much faster than expected, powered by [the] extra gravitational force of invisible "dark matter" as it is now called. Since this discovery 40 years ago, we have learned that this mysterious substance, which is probably an exotic elementary particle, makes up about 85 percent of the mass in the Universe, leaving only 15 percent to be the ordinary stuff encountered in our everyday lives. Dark matter is central to our understanding of how galaxies form and evolve — and is ultimately one of the reasons for the existence of life on Earth — yet we know almost nothing about it.

"The surprising finding of our study was that elliptical galaxies maintain a remarkably constant circular speed out to large distances from their centers, in the same way that spiral galaxies are already known to do," said Cappellari. "This means that in these very different types of galaxies, stars and dark matter conspire to redistribute themselves to produce this effect, with stars dominating in the inner regions of the galaxies, and a gradual shift in the outer regions to dark matter dominance."

What is most fascinating about this press release, however, is that it also noted that dark matter is only one explanation for the data, and that the failure of Newtonian physics at large distances, instead of dark matter, might also provide an explanation.

However, the [solution] does not come out naturally from models of dark matter, and some disturbing fine-tuning is required to explain the observations. For this reason, the [problem] even led some authors to suggest that, rather than being due to dark matter, it may be due to Newton's law of gravity becoming progressively less accurate at large distances. Remarkably, decades after it was proposed, this alternative theory (without dark matter) still cannot be conclusively ruled out.

Physicists call this other theory MOND, for modified Newtonian dynamics. It is not a very popular theory, however, and is almost always ignored, even though it appears to work as well as dark matter to explain the motion of stars in galaxies. Instead, most scientists favor dark matter.

For this press release to mention it as suggests the new data favors it over dark matter, which would make this a significant discovery.

+ - RealTek SDK Introduces Vulnerability In Some Routers->

Submitted by jones_supa
jones_supa writes: SOHO routers from manufacturers including at least Trendnet and D-Link allow attackers anywhere in the world to execute malicious code on the devices, according to a security advisory issued over the weekend. The remote command-injection vulnerability resides in the "miniigd SOAP service" as implemented by the RealTek SDK. Before someone asks, there is no comprehensive list of manufacturers or models that are affected. Nerds may be able to spot them by using the Metasploit framework to query their router. If the response contains "RealTek/v1.3" or similar, the device is likely vulnerable. For now, the vulnerable routers should be restricted to communicate only with trusted devices. HP's Zero Day Initiative reported the bug confidentially to RealTek in August 2013, but the issue was disclosed 20 months later as no fix has been provided.
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