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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

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+ - Google Quietly Backs Away From Encrypting New Lollilop Devices by Default

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Although Google announced in September 2014 that Android 5.0 Lollipop would require full-disk encryption by default in new cell phones, Ars Technica has found otherwise in recently-released 2nd-gen Moto E and Galaxy S6. It turns out, according to the latest version of the Android Compatibility Definition document (PDF), full-disk encryption is currently only "very strongly recommended" in anticipation of mandatory encryption requirements in the future. The moral of the story is don't be lazy; check that your full-disk encryption is actually enabled."
Data Storage

New Seagate Shingled Hard Drive Teardown 5

Posted by Soulskill
from the made-out-of-actual-shingles dept.
New submitter Peter Desnoyers writes: Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) drives are starting to hit the market, promising larger drives without heroic (and expensive) measures such as helium fill, but at a cost — data can no longer be over-written in place, requiring SSD-like algorithms to handle random writes.

At the USENIX File and Storage Technologies conference in February, researchers from Northeastern University (disclaimer — I'm one of them) dissected shingled drive performance both figuratively and literally, using both micro-benchmarks and a window cut in the drive to uncover the secrets of Seagate's first line of publicly-available SMR drives.

TL;DR: It's a pretty good desktop drive — with write cache enabled (the default for non-server setups) and an intermittent workload it performs quite well, handling bursts of random writes (up to a few tens of GB total) far faster than a conventional drive — but only if it has long powered-on idle periods for garbage collection. Reads and large writes run at about the same speed as on a conventional drive, and at $280 it costs less than a pair of decent 4TB drives. For heavily-loaded server applications, though, you might want to wait for the next generation. Here are a couple videos (in 16x slow motion) showing the drive in action — sequential read after deliberately fragmenting the drive, and a few thousand random writes.
Google

Google Prepares To Enter Wireless Market As an MVNO 16

Posted by samzenpus
from the trying-something-different dept.
jfruh writes Google is getting into the wireless connectivity business, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to use them as your wireless connectivity provider any time soon. The company isn't building its own cell network, but will rather be a "mobile virtual network operator" offering services over existing networks. Google says it won't be a full-service mobile network in competition with existing carriers; instead, the MVNO will offer a platform through which it can experiment with new services for Android smartphones.

+ - Astronomers Find a Dusty Galaxy That Shouldn't Exist->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Peering back in time to find the very earliest objects in the universe, an international team of astronomers has discovered a galaxy that shouldn't be there at all.

The problem, the scientists report Monday in Nature , is that while the tiny galaxy dates from just 700 million years or so after the big bang, it's far more dusty than something this young and small has any right to be.

The dusty galaxy is just one of the recent surprises astronomers have found. "Last week," says Marrone, "we learned of an incredibly massive black hole in the early universe. Now we have this average galaxy with significant amounts of dust. We've had this cartoon picture of the early universe, but it's clear that we really don't know what's going on.""

Link to Original Source

+ - Police Could Charge a Data Center in the Largest Child Porn Bust Ever->

Submitted by sarahnaomi
sarahnaomi (3948215) writes "It could be the largest child porn investigation ever conducted.

Canadian police say they’ve uncovered a massive online file sharing network for exploitative material that could involve up to 7,500 users in nearly 100 countries worldwide.

But unlike past investigations into the distribution of child porn, which typically involve targeting suspects individually, police have instead seized over 1.2 petabytes of data—more than four times the amount of data in the US Library of Congress—from a data center responsible for storing the material, and may even attempt to lay criminal charges against its operators, too.

“What we are alleging is occurring is that there are individuals and organizations that are profiting from the storage and the exchange of child sexual exploitation material,” Scott Tod, Deputy Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), told Motherboard at a conference late last month, after speaking to a crowd of defence specialists. “They store it and they provide a secure website that you can log into, much like people do with illegal online gaming sites.”"

Link to Original Source
Canada

Secret Memo Slams Canadian Police On Inaccurate ISP Request Records 14

Posted by samzenpus
from the tip-of-the-iceberg dept.
An anonymous reader writes Last fall, Daniel Therrien, the government's newly appointed Privacy Commissioner of Canada, released the annual report on the Privacy Act, the legislation that governs how government collects, uses, and discloses personal information. The lead story from the report was the result of an audit of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police practices regarding warrantless requests for telecom subscriber information. Michael Geist now reports that a secret internal memo reveals the situation was far worse, with auditors finding the records from Canada's lead law enforcement agency were unusable since they were "inaccurate and incomplete."

+ - New Seagate Shingled hard drive teardown

Submitted by Peter Desnoyers
Peter Desnoyers (11115) writes "Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) drives are starting to hit the market, promising larger drives without heroic (and expensive) measures such as helium fill, but at a cost — data can no longer be over-written in place, requiring SSD-like algorithms to handle random writes.

At the USENIX File and Storage Technologies conference in February, researchers from Northeastern University (disclaimer — I'm one of them)
dissected shingled drive performance both figuratively and literally, using both micro-benchmarks and a window cut in the drive to uncover the secrets of Seagate's first line of publicly-available
SMR drives.

TLDR: It's a pretty good desktop drive — with write cache enabled (the default for non-server setups) and an intermittent workload it performs quite well, handling bursts of random writes (up to a few tens of GB total) far faster than a conventional drive — but only if it has long powered-on idle periods for garbage collection. Reads and large writes run at about the same speed as on a conventional drive, and at $280 it costs less than a pair of decent 4TB drives. For heavily-loaded server applications, though, you might want to wait for the next generation.

Videos (in 16x slow motion) showing the drive in action — sequential read after deliberately fragmenting the drive, and a few thousand random writes."
Google

Google+ Divided Into Photos and Streams, With New Boss 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the judgment-of-solomon dept.
An anonymous reader writes It seems Google+ will see some significant changes under new boss Bradley Horowitz. Google+ will be separated into different products: Photos and Hangouts will be split out, and the social part is now called "the stream". From the article: "Google+ has taken a lot of criticism — notably the infamous 'ghost town' knock that it's devoid of users and concerns about Google's attempts to force its relevance by tying it in with functions like search results and YouTube comments. But Google executives have denied the 'ghost town criticism over and over. In part that's because the company used Google+ to describe more than just its Facebook-esque service for posting and commenting — the part now called Streams. For Google, Google+ also has been the "social spine" that unifies Google users' activities under a single unified identity."

+ - Games Workshop at 40: How They Brought D&D to Britain->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Following on the fortieth anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons last year, another formative influence on modern gaming is celebrating its fortieth birthday: Games Workshop. Playing at the World covers the story of how the founders, Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson (not the other Steve Jackson), started out as subscribers to the 1960s British gaming zine Albion playing Diplomacy by mail and (in Ian's case) publishing silly cartoons. When Albion folded at the beginning of 1975, Livingstone and Jackson formed Games Workshop with its own zine Owl & Weasel as a way to bring "progressive games" (as in "progressive rock") to the UK. Shortly thereafter, when they discovered Dungeons & Dragons, fantasy and role-playing games became their focus. After Owl & Weasel grew up into White Dwarf in 1977, its famous "Fiend Factory" column ended up populating the D&D Fiend Folio . And in the 1980s, of course, they brought us Warhammer and their retail stories brought stylish miniatures to many a needful gamer. Happy birthday to Games Workshop!"
Link to Original Source

+ - Ultra-low power radio transceiver enables truly wireless earbuds->

Submitted by irl_4795
irl_4795 (4020741) writes "At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, taking place March 2nd-5th, NXP Semiconductors (NASDAQ: NXPI) will demonstrate Near Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI) technology in a truly wireless earbud including wireless audio streaming from ear to ear, using its new NxH2280 NFMI based radio transceiver."
Link to Original Source
Technology

Physicists May Be One Step Closer To Explaining High-Temp Superconductivity 58

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.
sciencehabit writes For years some physicists have been hoping to crack the mystery of high-temperature superconductivity—the ability of some complex materials to carry electricity without resistance at temperatures high above absolute zero—by simulating crystals with patterns of laser light and individual atoms. Now, a team has taken—almost—the next-to-last step in such 'optical lattice' simulation by reproducing the pattern of magnetism seen in high-temperature superconductors from which the resistance-free flow of electricity emerges.
Open Source

Xfce 4.12 Released 88

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
motang writes: After two years of hard work (and much to the dismay of naysayers who worried the project has been abandoned), the Xfce team has announced the release of Xfce 4.12. Highlights include improvements to the window switcher dialog, intelligent hiding of the panel, new wallpaper settings, better multi-monitor support, improved power settings, additions to the file manager, and a revamped task manager. Here is a quick tour, the full changelog, and the download page. I have been running it since Xubuntu 15.04 beta 1 was released two days ago. It is much improved over 4.10, and the new additions are great."
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware? 303

Posted by Soulskill
from the very-carefully dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In light of recent revelations from Kaspersky Labs about the Equation Group and persistent hard drive malware, I was curious about how easy it might be to verify my own system's drives to see if they were infected. I have no real reason to think they would be, but I was dismayed by the total lack of tools to independently verify such a thing. For instance, Seagate's firmware download pages provide files with no external hash, something Linux distributions do for all of their packages. Neither do they seem to provide a utility to read off the current firmware from a drive and verify its integrity.

Are there any utilities to do such a thing? Why don't these companies provide verification software to users? Has anyone compiled and posted a public list of known-good firmware hashes for the major hard drive vendors and models? This seems to be a critical hole in PC security. I did contact Seagate support asking for hashes of their latest firmware; I got a response stating, "...If you download the firmware directly from our website there is no risk on the file be tampered with." (Their phrasing, not mine.) Methinks somebody hasn't been keeping up with world events lately.
Music

Genetic Data Analysis Tools Reveal How US Pop Music Evolved 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the anatomy-of-a-train-wreck dept.
KentuckyFC writes: The history of pop music is rich in anecdotes, folklore and controversy. But despite the keen interest, there is little in the form of hard evidence to back up most claims about the evolution of music. Now a group of researchers have used data analysis tools developed for genomic number crunching to study the evolution of U.S. pop music. The team studied 30-second segments of more than 17,000 songs that appeared on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 between 1960 and 2010. Their tools categorized the songs according to harmonic features such as chord changes as well as the quality of timbre such as whether guitar-based, piano-based orchestra-based and so on. They then used a standard algorithm for discovering clusters within networks of data to group the songs into 13 different types, which turned out to correspond with well known genres such as rap, rock, country and so on. Finally, they plotted the change in popularity of these musical types over time.

The results show a clear decline in the popularity of jazz and blues since 1960. During the same period, rock-related music has ebbed and flowed in popularity. By contrast, rap was rare before 1980 before becoming the dominant musical style for 30 years until declining in the late 2000s. The work answers several important question about the evolution of pop music, such as whether music industry practices have led to a decline in the cultural variety of new music, and whether British bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones triggered the 1964 American music revolution [spoiler: no in both cases].

+ - Genetic Data Analysis Tools Reveal How US Pop Music Evolved

Submitted by KentuckyFC
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "The history of pop music is rich in anecdotes, folklore and controversy. But despite the keen interest, there is little in the form of hard evidence to back up most claims about the evolution of music. Now a group of researchers have used data analysis tools developed for genomic number crunching to study the evolution of US pop music. The team studied 30-second segments of more than 17,000 songs that appeared on the US Billboard Hot 100 between 1960 and 2010. Their tools categorised the songs according to harmonic features such as chord changes as well as the quality of timbre such as whether guitar-based, piano-based orchestra-based and so on. They then used a standard algorithm for discovering clusters within networks of data to group the songs into 13 different types, which turned out to correspond with well known genres such as rap, rock, country and so on. Finally, they plotted the change in popularity of these musical types over time. The results show a clear decline in the popularity of jazz and blues since 1960. During the same period, rock-related music has ebbed and flowed in popularity. By contrast, was rare before 1980 before becoming the dominant musical style for 30 years until declining in the late 2000s. The work answers several important question about the evolution of pop music, such as whether music industry practises have led to a decline in the cultural variety of new music and whether British bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones triggered the 1964 American music revolution [spoiler: no in both cases]."

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