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Bitcoin

Bitcoin Snafu Causes Miners To Generate Invalid Blocks 169 169

An anonymous reader writes: A notice at bitcoin.org warns users of the cryptocurrency that many miners are currently generating invalid blocks. The cause seems to be out-of-date software, and software that assumed blocks were valid instead of checking them. They explain further "For several months, an increasing amount of mining hash rate has been signaling its intent to begin enforcing BIP66 strict DER signatures. As part of the BIP66 rules, once 950 of the last 1,000 blocks were version 3 (v3) blocks, all upgraded miners would reject version 2 (v2) blocks. Early morning UTC on 4 July 2015, the 950/1000 (95%) threshold was reached. Shortly thereafter, a small miner (part of the non-upgraded 5%) mined an invalid block--as was an expected occurrence. Unfortunately, it turned out that roughly half the network hash rate was mining without fully validating blocks (called SPV mining), and built new blocks on top of that invalid block. Note that the roughly 50% of the network that was SPV mining had explicitly indicated that they would enforce the BIP66 rules. By not doing so, several large miners have lost over $50,000 dollars worth of mining income so far."
DRM

Microsoft Edge, HTML5, and DRM 135 135

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft is building its new browser, Edge, with the intention of avoiding many of the flaws that plagued Internet Explorer over its long and tumultuous life. Part of this involves moving away from plug-ins, and Edge will not support ActiveX. Instead, they're focusing on interoperable media, and that means non-plug-in video players that meet HTML5 specs. Of course, not all video players want to disseminate their content for free, which means: DRM. Microsoft's Edge team has published a new post explaining how they'll be handling support for DRM and "premium media" in the new browser.

They say, "Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge support DASH, MSE, EME and CENC natively, and other major browsers ship implementations of MSE and CENC compliant EME. This support allows developers to build plug-in free web video apps that runs across a huge range of platforms and devices, with each MSE/EME implementation built on top of a different media pipeline and DRM provider. In the days when DRM systems used proprietary file formats and encryption methods, this variation in DRM providers by browser would have presented a significant issue. With the development and use of Common Encryption (CENC), the problem is substantially reduced because the files are compressed in standard formats and encrypted using global industry standards. The service provider issues the keys and licenses necessary to consume the content in a given browser, but the website code, content and encryption keys are common across all of them, regardless of which DRM is in use."
Crime

In Response to Open Letter, France Rejects Asylum For Julian Assange 144 144

Several outlets report that Julian Assange has requested, but been denied, political asylum in France, by means of an open letter published by Le Monde. From The Globe and Mail's coverage, linked above: Less than an hour after his letter was published by Le Monde's website, Hollande's office issued a statement saying the asylum request was rejected.

"France has received the letter from Mr. Assange. An in-depth review shows that in view of the legal and material elements of Mr Assange's situation, France cannot grant his request," the statement said.

"The situation of Mr. Assange does not present any immediate danger. He is also the target of a European arrest warrant," it noted.

Assange wrote in the letter that his youngest child is French, and so is the child’s mother. "I haven't been able to see them in five years, since the political persecution against me started," he said.
Worth noting: Assange's legal team says that Assange's letter has been mischaracterized, and that it is in fact not a request for asylum per se; instead, they assert, the letter merely expresses Assange's "willingness 'to be hosted in France if and only if an initiative was taken by the competent authorities.'"
Transportation

World's First Commercial Jetpack Arrives Next Year 119 119

An anonymous reader writes: The good news is that soon, you'll finally be able to buy that jetpack you've always wanted. The bad news is that it'll run you about $150,000. The Martin Jetpack will use fans, rather than rockets, to lift humans weighing up to 120kg (~256 lbs). Its makers say it can reach altitudes of up to 1 kilometer, and fly for up to 30 minutes at a time. The jetpack will be sold commercially to emergency services next year, and then a smaller, personal version will hit the market in 2017.
Music

Taylor Swift: Apple's Disdain For Royalties Is 'Shocking, Disappointing' 368 368

Mark Wilson writes to note that Apple Music, yet unlaunched, already faces resistance on several fronts. From the BetaNews article: It's not just smaller, independent labels that are complaining about Apple's refusal to pay artists any royalties during the initial three month free trial period. Taylor Swift has added her voice to the growing number of complainants, writing an open letter to Apple in which she says she will withhold her new album "1989" from the service. In the letter, entitled "To Apple, Love Taylor," the singer says that the company's decision not to make royalty payments is "shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company." Swift is an artist who could afford to shoulder the cost of three months of not being paid by Apple, but she has chosen to make a stand and stick up for those who are less fortunate.
Windows

Windows 10 Will Be Free To Users Who Test It 281 281

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has been making a big push to change its business model for Windows — likely due to the low/no cost updates you can get for competing operating systems. The company surprised everyone when it said legit copies of Windows 7 and 8 would be supplied with free upgrades, but now they're extending that even further: anyone who tests the Windows 10 Technical Preview will get a free upgrade to the full version of Windows 10 when it comes out. In a blog post, Microsoft's Gabe Aul said, "As long as you are running an Insider Preview build and connected with the [Microsoft account] you used to register, you will receive the Windows 10 final release build and remain activated. Once you have successfully installed this build and activated, you will also be able to clean install on that PC from final media if you want to start over fresh."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Kim Jong Un Claims To Have Cured AIDS, Ebola and Cancer 162 162

jones_supa writes: North Korea has created a wonder drug which not only cures AIDS, but also eradicates Ebola and cancer — at least, according to the latest proclamation from the country's news agency. Their announcement says the miracle cure consists of ginseng grown from fertilizer and rare earth elements. The drug's website cites a medical study in Africa where the product was tested on HIV-positive patients. It records that every single participant in the trial noted an improvement, with 56% being completely cured and 44% noting a considerable improvement in their condition. Among other benefits, the North Korean scientists also revealed that the drug is capable of curing a number of cancers, but did not provide details of the medical trials which support this claim. It's also good to remember that the state has previously claimed that Kim Jong Il invented the hamburger.
Education

School Lunch Program Scans Student Thumbprints For 'Tracking Purposes' 141 141

schwit1 writes with news that a school district in Pennsylvania is providing free lunches to schoolchildren as part of an initiative to improve nutrition. Instead of providing the lunches to all students without question, they made the program opt-in. Since not all students get the lunches, they needed a way to track who was getting them. Officials decided the best way to do so would be to invest in biometric software that scans students's thumbprints every time they pick up lunch. The data collected by these scanners goes not just to the school district, but to the federal government as well.
Software

Unicode Consortium Releases Unicode 8.0.0 164 164

An anonymous reader writes: The newest version of the Unicode standard adds 7,716 new characters to the existing 21,499 – that's more than 35% growth! Most of them are Chinese, Japan and Korean ideographs, but among those changes Unicode adds support for new languages like Ik, used in Uganda.
Communications

Online At Last: Comet Lander Philae Wakes Up 62 62

techtech writes with this news from the BBC: The European Space Agency (ESA) says its comet lander, Philae, has woken up and contacted Earth. Philae, the first spacecraft to land on a comet, was dropped on to the surface of Comet 67P by its mothership, Rosetta, last November. It worked for 60 hours before its solar-powered battery ran flat. The comet has since moved nearer to the sun and Philae has enough power to work again, says the BBC's science correspondent Jonathan Amos. An account linked to the probe tweeted the message, "Hello Earth! Can you hear me?" Watch this space for some more links to follow. Update: 06/14 13:39 GMT by T : From the ESA's Rosetta blog: When analysing the status data it became clear that Philae also must have been awake earlier: "We have also received historical data - so far, however, the lander had not been able to contact us earlier," [according to project manager Dr. Stephan Ulamec.] Now the scientists are waiting for the next contact. There are still more than 8000 data packets in Philae’s mass memory which will give the DLR team information on what happened to the lander in the past few days on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
China

Report: Russia and China Crack Encrypted Snowden Files 546 546

New submitter garyisabusyguy writes with word that, according to London's Sunday Times, "Russia and China have cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden, forcing MI6 to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries, according to senior officials in Downing Street, the Home Office and the security services," and suggests this non-paywalled Reuters version, too. "MI6 has decided that it is too dangerous to operate in Russia or China," writes the submitter. "This removes intelligence capabilities that have existed throughout the Cold War, and which may have helped to prevent a 'hot' nuclear war. Have the actions of Snowden, and, apparently, the use of weak encryption, made the world less safe?"
Microsoft

Sony and Microsoft's Failed Releases Since E3 2014 26 26

SlappingOysters writes: Ahead of E3 2015, which begins next week, Grab It has undertaken an analysis of the games announced at the big E3 press conferences for Sony and Microsoft last year, and reveals — amongst other data — that 60% of Microsoft's announced titles remain unreleased a year later, and 50% of Sony's announced titles remain unreleased. The article then debates whether this is good enough for both companies as they fight for market share.
China

SF86 Data Captured In OPM Hack 173 173

Etherwalk writes: The security clearance process in the United States includes filling out the 127-page SF86 form, which includes things like the citizenships of all your relatives and housemates, foreign contacts and financial interests, foreign travel, psychological and emotional health, illegal drug use, and many other matters. The recent breach by the Chinese Government apparently included that information for all executive employees up to cabinet level. It's pretty much a gold mine for intelligence work and social engineering of any kind.
Democrats

Trade Bill Fails In the House 413 413

schwit1 writes: President Obama suffered a major defeat to his Pacific Rim free trade initiative Friday as House Democrats helped derail a key presidential priority despite his last-minute, personal plea on Capitol Hill. "In a remarkable rejection of a president they have resolutely backed, House Democrats voted to kill assistance to workers displaced by global trade, a program their party created and has stood by for four decades. By doing so, they brought down legislation granting the president trade promotion authority — the power to negotiate trade deals that cannot be amended or filibustered by Congress — before it could even come to a final vote." This was after Silicon Valley heavyweights made a last minute push to pass the bill and the White House got personal with many Democratic lawmakers.
Intel

Intel Skylake & Broxton Graphics Processors To Start Mandating Binary Blobs 193 193

An anonymous reader writes: Intel has often been portrayed as the golden child within the Linux community and by those desiring a fully-free system without tainting their kernel with binary blobs while wanting a fully-supported open-source driver. The Intel Linux graphics driver over the years hasn't required any firmware blobs for acceleration, compared to AMD's open-source driver having many binary-only microcode files and Nouveau also needing blobs — including firmware files that NVIDIA still hasn't released for their latest GPUs. However, beginning with Intel Skylake and Broxton CPUs, their open-source driver will now too require closed-source firmware. The required "GuC" and "DMC" firmware files are for handling the new hardware's display microcontroller and workload scheduling engine. These firmware files are explicitly closed-source licensed and forbid any reverse-engineering. What choices are left for those wanting a fully-free, de-blobbed system while having a usable desktop?

In these matters the only certainty is that there is nothing certain. -- Pliny the Elder

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