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The Internet

Comcast's Lobbyists Hand Out VIP Cards To Skip the Customer Service Wait 129

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.)
Earth

Denmark Makes Claim To North Pole, Based On Undersea Geography 190

Posted by timothy
from the that-land-is-our-land dept.
As reported by The Independent, A scientific study has found that Greenland is actually connected to the area beneath the polar ice where the North Pole lies – thanks to a huge stretch of continental crust known as the Lomonosov Ridge. Since Greenland is a Danish territory, that gives the country the right to put its hat in the ring for ownership of the stretch of land, Denmark’s foreign minister [Martin Lidegaard ] said. ... Of the five Arctic countries – the US, Russia, Norway, Canada and Denmark —only Canada and Russia had indicated an interest in the North Pole territory until now. "This is a historical milestone for Denmark and many others as the area has an impact on the lives of lot of people. After the U.N. panel had taken a decision based on scientific data, comes a political process," Lidegaard told The Associated Press in an interview on Friday. "I expect this to take some time. An answer will come in a few decades. Why such a big deal? As Business Insider notes, The U.S. currently estimates that the Arctic sea bed could contain 15% of the earth's remaining oil, along with 30% of the planet's natural gas and 20% of its liquefied natural gas. Whichever country is able to successfully claim the Arctic would have the right to extract these resources.
Sony

The Sony Pictures Hack Was Even Worse Than Everyone Thought 528

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-looking-good dept.
An anonymous reader writes with today's installment of Sony hack news. "It's time to take a moment of silence for Sony Pictures, because more startling revelations about leaked information just came out and employees are starting to panic. BuzzFeed raked through some 40 gigabytes of data and found everything from medical records to unreleased scripts. This is probably the worst corporate hack in history. Meanwhile, Fusion's Kevin Roose is reporting on what exactly happened at Sony Pictures when the hack went down. The hack was evidently so extensive that even the company gym had to shut down. And once the hackers started releasing the data, people started 'freaking out,' one employee said. That saddest part about all of this is that the very worst is probably still to come. Hackers say they stole 100 terabytes of data in total. If only 40 gigabytes contained all of this damning information, just imagine what 100 terabytes contains."

Comment: Re:Super-capitalism (Score 3, Interesting) 516

by RenHoek (#48465655) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

1) Espionage is anything but cost-effective. But cost isn't the primary (or even secondary) concern there for those who want to do the spying. (It's (technical) feasibility)

2) Running cable above ground is _always_ more cost-effective then running cable underground. So if you:
- don't give a shit about your customers
- don't have a lot of competition because you can gain a monopoly by buying senators
- and if you do a bare minimum of maintenance because you want more money (more so if you _do_ run cables underground)
then even in a city, local power stability is going to be shit.

Comment: Re:Shyeah, right. (Score 2) 284

by RenHoek (#48465567) Attached to: Is LTO Tape On Its Way Out?

If you think 250TB of backup is a lot, then you don't need tape.

I currently backup about 1PB and data storage is growing exponentially here (gene sequencing data). Tape is the only cost effective solution for us.

I do agree though that tapedrives are ridiculously expensive but it's a sellers market. Tapedrives don't sell in massive quantities so the price stays up, mainly because there just aren't that many suppliers.

On the other hand. I called a shop a while ago to see what they'd give for our 5x LTO4 tapedrives since we upgraded to LTO6 and they only offered us 30 euros per drive. So if you don't need the latest drive out there, you can save a lot of money by buying second-hand.

Comment: Re:You need more nuclear and less renewables (Score 2) 516

by RenHoek (#48465511) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

It's true that renewable power levels like wind-power rise and fall, but once you look at a larger area then it pretty much evens out.

Of course you can back it up with other types of renewable that have a more stable output like hydro-electric of geothermal.

Comment: Super-capitalism (Score 1, Insightful) 516

by RenHoek (#48465493) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

For one, the US is big.. really big.. So it's not cost-effective to run power cables and alike underground. So that makes them more vulnerable.

Also, the US enjoys a form of super-capitalism, where the almighty dollar stands above things like quality of service and stability. So companies do the bare minimum of maintenance, also worsening outages.

Power

Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places? 516

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-not,-the-power-company-just-hates-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I live in a relatively large college town that's within easy driving distance of several major metropolitan centers. In many ways, the infrastructure around here is top-notch. The major exception is the electrical grid. Lightning storm? Power outage. Heavy winds? Power outage. Lots of rain? Power outage. Some areas around town are immune to this — like around the hospital, for obvious reasons. But others seem to lose power at the drop of hat. Why is this? If it were a tiny village or in the middle of nowhere, it would make sense to me. What problems do the utility companies face that they can't keep service steady? Do you deal with a lot of outages where you live? I'm not sure if it's just an investment issue or a technological one. It hasn't gotten better in the decade I've lived here, and I can imagine it will only get worse as the infrastructure ages.
Operating Systems

More Eye Candy Coming To Windows 10 209

Posted by timothy
from the sincere-flattery dept.
jones_supa writes Microsoft is expected to release a new build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview in the very near future, according to their own words. The only build so far to be released to the public is 9841 but the next iteration will likely be in the 9860 class of releases. With this new build, Microsoft has polished up the animations that give the OS a more comprehensive feel. When you open a new window, it flies out on to the screen from the icon and when you minimize it, it collapses back in to the icon on the taskbar. It is a slick animation and if you have used OS X, it is similar to the one used to collapse windows back in to the dock. Bah.
Transportation

The Largest Ship In the World Is Being Built In Korea 275

Posted by timothy
from the and-vice-versa dept.
HughPickens.com writes Alastair Philip Wiper writes that at 194 feet wide and 1,312 feet long, the Matz Maersk Triple E is the largest ship ever built, capable of carrying 18,000 20-foot containers. Its propellers weigh 70 tons apiece and it is too big for the Panama Canal, though it can shimmy through the Suez. A U-shaped hull design allows more room below deck, providing capacity for 18,000 shipping containers arranged in 23 rows – enough space to transport 864 million bananas. The Triple-E is constructed from 425 pre-fabricated segments, making up 21 giant "megablock" cross sections. Most of the 955,250 liters of paint used on each ship is in the form of an anti- corrosive epoxy, pre-applied to each block. Finally, a polyurethane topcoat of the proprietary Maersk brand color "Hardtop AS-Blue 504" is sprayed on.

Twenty Triple-E class container ships have been commissioned by Danish shipping company Maersk Lines for delivery by 2015. The ships are being built at the Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering factory in the South Korean port of Opko. The shipyard, about an hour from Busan in the south of the country, employs about 46,000 people, and "could reasonably be described as the worlds biggest Legoland," writes Wiper. "Smiling workers cycle around the huge shipyard as massive, abstractly over proportioned chunks of ships are craned around and set into place." The Triple E is just one small part of the output of the shipyard, as around 100 other vessels including oil rigs are in various stages of completion at the any time." The vessels will serve ports along the northern-Europe-to-Asia route, many of which have had to expand to cope with the ships' size. "You don't feel like you're inside a boat, it's more like a cathedral," Wiper says. "Imagine this space being full of consumer goods, and think about how many there are on just one ship. Then think about how many are sailing round the world every day. It's like trying to think about infinity."
Communications

User Error Is the Primary Weak Point In Tor 70

Posted by timothy
from the setting-aside-whether-you-like-particular-users dept.
blottsie (3618811) writes with a link to the Daily Dot's "comprehensive analysis of hundreds of police raids and arrests made involving Tor users in the last eight years," which explains that "the software's biggest weakness is and always has been the same single thing: It's you." A small slice: In almost all the cases we know about, it’s trivial mistakes that tend to unintentionally expose Tor users. Several top Silk Road administrators were arrested because they gave proof of identity to Dread Pirate Roberts, data that was owned by the police when Ulbricht was arrested. Giving your identity away, even to a trusted confidant, is always huge mistake. A major meth dealer’s operation was discovered after the IRS started investigating him for unpaid taxes, and an OBGYN who allegedly sold prescription pills used the same username on Silk Road that she did on eBay. Likewise, the recent arrest of a pedophile could be traced to his use of “gateway sites” (such as Tor2Web), which allow users to access the Deep Web but, contrary to popular belief, do not offer the anonymizing power of Tor. "There's not a magic way to trace people [through Tor], so we typically capitalize on human error, looking for whatever clues people leave in their wake," James Kilpatrick, a Homeland Security Investigations agent, told the Wall Street Journal.

Comment: Never useful info given with patches (Score 5, Insightful) 140

by RenHoek (#47783347) Attached to: Microsoft Releases Replacement Patch With Two Known Bugs

What pisses me off as a consumer is that Microsoft patches never come with any kind of useful information.

"There are X patches available", and when you click a specific patch you get "This is a stability patch for Windows 8" or something generic like that.

How can a consumer make an informed decision to go ahead and install patches or not without hours of looking up KB numbers?

I'd like more info, so that unless a patch specifically fixes a security bug, I'd rather leave the rest of the patches uninstalled as long as my system runs ok.

United States

Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy 818

Posted by Soulskill
from the cats-and-dogs-governing-together dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers from Princeton University and Northwestern University have concluded, after extensive analysis of 1,779 policy issues, that the U.S. is in fact an oligarchy and not a democracy. What this means is that, although 'Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance,' 'majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts.' Their study (PDF), to be published in Perspectives on Politics, found that 'When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.'"
Windows

Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support 575

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the little-orphan-windows dept.
snydeq (1272828) writes "Microsoft TechNet blog makes clear that Windows 8.1 will not be patched, and that users must get Windows 8.1 Update if they want security patches, InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard reports. 'In what is surely the most customer-antagonistic move of the new Windows regime, Steve Thomas at Microsoft posted a TechNet article on Saturday stating categorically that Microsoft will no longer issue security patches for Windows 8.1, starting in May,' Leonhard writes. 'Never mind that Windows 8.1 customers are still having multiple problems with errors when trying to install the Update. At this point, there are 300 posts on the Microsoft Answers forum thread 'Windows 8.1 Update 1 Failing to Install with errors 0x80070020, 80073712 and 800F081F.' The Answers forum is peppered with similar complaints and a wide range of errors, from 800F0092 to 80070003, for which there are no solutions from Microsoft. Never mind that Microsoft itself yanked Windows 8.1 Update from the corporate WSUS update server chute almost a week ago and still hasn't offered a replacement.'"

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