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+ - Australia passes site-blocking legislation->

ausrob writes: Cementing their position as Australia's most backwards and dangerous government in recent memory comes this nasty bit of legislation, riddled with holes (which is nothing new for this decrepit Government): "The legislation allows rights holders to go to a Federal Court judge to get overseas websites, or "online locations", blocked that have the "primary purpose" of facilitating copyright infringement. If a rights holder is successful in their blocking request, Australian internet providers, such as Telstra and Optus, will need to comply with a judge's order by disabling access to the infringing location."
Link to Original Source

+ - Trucks driven by software

Presto Vivace writes: Self-Driving Trucks Will Hit Us Like Ton of Bricks

At $40,000 a year, the incentive to replace truck drivers with software is massive. And it will happen. Not only that, but insurance costs will drop. Most truck accidents are caused by user error: Driving too fast, driving while tired, driving intoxicated, etc.
Robots don't drink, don't get tired, won't drive unsafe to get to a destination faster,

Think of all the fun hackers could have with trucks driven by software.

+ - ISP Not Following Net Neutrality? The FCC's Got A Complaint Form For That.

Presto Vivace writes: Consumerist

The FCC has updated their new consumer help center — specifically, the internet service complaint form. Among the issues concerned consumers can complain about, the form now contains “open internet/net neutrality,” right there alphabetically between “interference” and “privacy.”
So what, specifically, qualifies as a net neutrality violation you can complain about? The FCC has guidance for that, too. In general, paraphrased, if’s a problem if there’s
Blocking: ISPs may not block access to any lawful content, apps, services, or devices.
Throttling: ISPs may not slow down or degrade lawful internet traffic from any content, apps, sites, services, or devices.
Paid prioritization: ISPs may not enter into agreements to prioritize and benefit some lawful internet traffic over the rest of it on their networks.

+ - Copyright Law As an Intimidation Tactic

Presto Vivace writes: Guy Reveals Airtel Secretly Inserting JavaScript, Gets Threatened With Jail For Criminal Copyright Infringement

Last week, an Indian blogger, Thejesh GN, discovered that mobile operator Airtel was injecting javascript into subscribers' browsing sessions, which is both incredibly sketchy and a huge security concern (not to mention raising net neutrality issues on the side). He posted the proof to GitHub and tweeted about it.
He posted the evidence showing that javascript was being quietly inserted, and that it apparently tried to insert some sort of toolbar:
That's all super sketchy. But that's just the very beginning of this story. Because days later, Thejesh received the most ridiculous legal threat letter, coming from a lawyer named Ameet Mehta from the law firm Solicis Lex. It claims to be representing an Israeli company, Flash Network, which is apparently responsible for the code injection software... and it claims that by merely revealing to the public that Airtel was doing these injections, he had engaged in criminal copyright infringement under the Information Technology Act, 2000.

+ - WikiLeaks releases secret TISA docs

Presto Vivace writes: The new agreement that would hamstring governments and citizens even further.

the EU would be forbidden from requiring that US companies like Google or Facebook keep the personal data of European citizens within the EU—one of the ideas currently being floated in Germany. Article 9.1 imposes a more general ban on requiring companies to locate some of their computing facilities in a territory: "No Party may require a service supplier, as a condition for supplying a service or investing in its territory, to: (a) use computing facilities located in the Party’s territory."

Article 6 of the leaked text seems to ban any country from using free software mandates: "No Party may require the transfer of, or access to, source code of software owned by a person of another Party, as a condition of providing services related to such software in its territory." The text goes on to specify that this only applies to "mass-market software," and does not apply to software used for critical infrastructure. It would still prevent a European government from specifying that its civil servants should use only open-source code for word processing—a sensible requirement given what we know about the deployment of backdoors in commercial software by the NSA and GCHQ.

Any agreement whose text has not been publicly released cannot possibly be a good agreement.

+ - Why American broadband is slow

Presto Vivace writes: The basic truth about broadband that cable companies want to hide

The American cities that are delivering best-in-the-world speeds at bargain prices are precisely the cities that aren't relying on Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Time-Warner, etc. to run their infrastructure. In Kansas City, Google built a state-of-the-art fiber optic network largely just to prove a point. In Chattanooga and Lafayette, the government did it. At the moment, the US federal government could issue 5-year bonds at a 1.58 percent interest rate and make grants to cities interested in following Chattanooga and Lafayette down that path. But it doesn't happen, because while broadband incumbents don't want to spend the money it would take to build state-of-the-art fiber networks, they are happy to spend money on lobbying.

+ - Uber Revises Privacy Policy, Wants More Data From Users->

itwbennett writes: Uber Technologies is revising its privacy policy to allow it to access a rider’s location when its smartphone app is running in the background, and to send special offers to users’ friends and family. Writing about the policy update in a blog post Thursday, Katherine Tassi, managing counsel of data privacy at Uber, noted that users will be in control in either case, and will be able to choose whether to share that data. The company has faced criticism in the past over how it handles sensitive information, particularly over its so-called ”God view” tool that apparently lets some Uber employees track the location of customers that have requested car service.
Link to Original Source

+ - You destroy basic usability by hijacking the scrollbar

Presto Vivace writes: Facebook vs the news media

Here’s an absolute fact that all of these reporters, columnists, and media pundits need to get into their heads:
The web doesn’t suck. Your websites suck.
All of your websites suck.
You destroy basic usability by hijacking the scrollbar. You take native functionality (scrolling, selection, links, loading) that is fast and efficient and you rewrite it with ‘cutting edge’ javascript toolkits and frameworks so that it is slow and buggy and broken. You balloon your websites with megabytes of cruft. You ignore best practices. You take something that works and is complementary to your business and turn it into a liability.
The lousy performance of your websites becomes a defensive moat around Facebook.
Of course, Facebook might still win even if you all had awesome websites, but you can’t even begin to compete with it until you fix the foundation of your business.

+ - Firefox's Optional Tracking Protection Reduces Load Time For News Sites By 44%

An anonymous reader writes: Former Mozilla software engineer Monica Chew and Computer Science researcher Georgios Kontaxis recently released a paper that examines Firefox’s optional Tracking Protection feature. The duo found that with Tracking Protection enabled, the Alexa top 200 news sites saw a 67.5 percent reduction in the number of HTTP cookies set. Furthermore, performance benefits included a 44 percent median reduction in page load time and 39 percent reduction in data usage.

+ - From Amazon Security Engineer to Homeless 2 2

An anonymous reader writes: I will be homeless and without any resources in one week. Any advice is welcome. Seattle/King County shelters are overcrowded and public housing hasn't accepted applications for months.

I started working at Amazon Nov 2013 as an E-Commerce Platform Security Engineer. I was an unusual applicant with special considerations — I have persistent chronic pain from a cancer that has been surgically treated but took years to be diagnosed. I was assured before being hired that I could get pain management and still work for Amazon.

A mere four months into working before management started to arrange special meetings for me. I wasn't performing "on the right trajectory" for an Amazon employee. I mentioned the Fentanyl transdermal patches as a source of brain fog, but my boss, perhaps being a security guy and suspicious of everything, actually had the audacity to imply I was wearing some sort of labeled tape placebo, and he recommended if this is what's holding me back, I get off the stuff ASAP. Two months of withdrawal later, and my job performance was even worse, despite ice packs and daily physical therapy. At this point I developed a crippling sense of fear pervasive in everything I did, personal or professional, and persistent chest pain became the new norm.

In pain every day, my motivation collapsed. I've been living on savings until now. I've applied for Leave of Absence as well as Short/Long term disability, but I have yet to collect any benefits. Despite my established symptomatology of cancer history and chronic pain, the Disability evaluators have insisted on a psychiatric evaluation (which has taken months, services are booked to forever out here). I'm starting to feel like all these psych requests are a way for the Disability evaluators to run me in circles and not pay any compensation.

Where did I go wrong? Should Amazon have accommodated my illness and cut me more slack? Are there companies that are more understanding of chronic illness? I was getting good work done. I can write testable, correct, highly-performant software for an implementation which spans an entire service stack. But of course, so can most of you. I'm clearly a lesser job candidate. Is there a place in the world for me besides Section 8 HUD housing?

+ - Apple and Google attend spy summit in the UK

Presto Vivace writes: APPLE AND GOOGLE JUST ATTENDED A CONFIDENTIAL SPY SUMMIT IN A REMOTE ENGLISH MANSION

The three-day conference, which took place behind closed doors and under strict rules about confidentiality, was aimed at debating the line between privacy and security.

Among an extraordinary list of attendees were a host of current or former heads from spy agencies such as the CIA and British electronic surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. Other current or former top spooks from Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Sweden were also in attendance. Google, Apple, and telecommunications company Vodafone sent some of their senior policy and legal staff to the discussions. And a handful of academics and journalists were also present.

According to an event program obtained by The Intercept, questions on the agenda included: “Are we being misled by the term ‘mass surveillance’?” “Is spying on allies/friends/potential adversaries inevitable if there is a perceived national security interest?” “Who should authorize intrusive intelligence operations such as interception?” “What should be the nature of the security relationship between intelligence agencies and private sector providers, especially when they may in any case be cooperating against cyber threats in general?” And, “How much should the press disclose about intelligence activity?”

The most disturbing part of this is the number of journalists present.

+ - Google and Gates-Backed Khan Academy Introduces 'Grit'-Based Classroom Funding 1 1

theodp writes: Their intentions are no doubt good, but some will be troubled by Google and Khan Academy's recently-concluded LearnStorm initiative, which pitted kids-against-kids, schools-against-schools, and cities-against-cities in a 3-month learning challenge for prizes based not only on students' mastery of math skills on Khan Academy, but also their perceived 'hustle' (aka 'grit'). "Points are earned by mastering math skills and also for taking on challenging new concepts and persevering," explained a Khan Academy FAQ. A blog entry further explained, "They've earned points and prizes not only for mastering math skills but also for showing 'hustle,' a metric we created to measure grit, perseverance, and growth. They competed over 200,000 hours of learning and 13.6 million standards-aligned math problems. In addition, thanks to the generosity of Google.org, DonorsChoose.org, and Comcast’s Internet Essentials, 34 underserved schools unlocked new devices for their classrooms and free home internet service for eligible families, increasing student access to online learning tools like Khan Academy." Apparently funded by a $2 million Google grant, the Google, Khan Academy, and DonorsChoose grit-based classroom funding comes on the heels of the same organizations' gender-based classroom funding initiative. Supported by some of the world's wealthiest individuals and corporations, Khan Academy's Board members include a Google Board member (Diane Green), spouse of a Google Board member (Ann Doerr), and the Managing Partner of Bill Gates' bgC3 (Larry Cohen); former Board members include Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Klein bottle for rent -- inquire within.

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