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Comment: Re:Government Intervention (Score 1) 281

by frisket (#48934589) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: When and How Did Europe Leapfrog the US For Internet Access?

It started off similarly in Ireland: local-call dialup in cities, nothing anywhere else (although universities had leased lines). The then-recently-denationalised-former-state-monopoly telco was completely pig-ignorant about data, but eventually offered dialup and then DSL. Finally they started to see the light, and the cable TV companies found they could carry an Internet service, and it started to take off — in the cities (no such thing as rural dialup). Now I have 200Mb from my cableco, but if I lived out in the deep countryside, I would have dialup only, probably long-distance to the nearest city, as the landlines can't carry much else of a signal (and many of them are still party lines), and there's mostly no data cellphone service, so no dongles. The government keeps spouting motherhood statements about rural and island connectivity, but it's patchy and poor.

Encryption

Justice Department: Default Encryption Has Created a 'Zone of Lawlessness' 413

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-would-you-call-this-zone-that's-allegedly-associated-with-danger? dept.
Jason Koebler writes: Leslie Caldwell, an assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, said Tuesday that the department is "very concerned" by the Google's and Apple's decision to automatically encrypt all data on Android and iOS devices.

"We understand the value of encryption and the importance of security," she said. "But we're very concerned they not lead to the creation of what I would call a 'zone of lawlessness,' where there's evidence that we could have lawful access through a court order that we're prohibited from getting because of a company's technological choices.
Businesses

Comcast Pays Overdue Fees, Offers Freebies For TWC Merger Approval 77

Posted by Soulskill
from the bought-and-paid-for dept.
WheezyJoe writes: In seeking more support for its mega-merger with Time-Warner Cable, Comcast has been going across the country giving local governments a chance to ask for favors in exchange for approving a franchise transfer. In Minneapolis, this turned up an unpaid bill of $40,000 in overdue franchise fees, so Comcast will have to pay the city money it already owed in order to get the franchise transfer. Comcast will also throw in $50,000 worth of free service and equipment.

"Thirty Minneapolis city buildings will get free basic cable for the next seven years as part of a package of concessions (PDF) the city wrung out of Comcast in exchange for blessing its proposed merger with fellow cable giant Time Warner," Minnesota Public Radio reported. The article notes that getting any kind of refund out of a cable company is not easy.

Part of the deal with Minneapolis involves the spinoff of a new cable company called GreatLand Connections that will serve 2.5 million customers in the Midwest and Southeast, including Minnesota. After the deal, Comcast's franchises in those areas would be transferred to GreatLand. Such goodwill concessions may seem impressive as Comcast seeks to foster goodwill, but one wonders how Comcast/Time Warner will behave after the merger.
Communications

FCC Fines Verizon For Failing To Investigate Rural Phone Problems 94

Posted by timothy
from the shrugging-it-off dept.
WheezyJoe writes Verizon agreed to a $5 million settlement after admitting that it failed to investigate whether its rural customers were able to receive long distance and wireless phone calls. The settlement is related to the FCC's efforts to address what is known as the rural call completion problem. Over an eight-month period during 2013, low call answer rates in 39 rural areas should have triggered an investigation, the FCC said. The FCC asked Verizon what steps it took, and Verizon said in April 2014 that it investigated or fixed problems in 13 of the 39 areas, but did nothing in the other 26.

"Rural call completion problems have significant and immediate public interest ramifications," the FCC said in its order on the Verizon settlement today. "They cause rural businesses to lose customers, impede medical professionals from reaching patients in rural areas, cut families off from their relatives, and create the potential for dangerous delays in public safety communications." Verizon has been accused of letting its copper landline network decay while it shifts its focus to fiber and cellular service. The FCC is working a plan to protect customers as old copper networks are retired.
Government

Comcast Ghost-Writes Politician's Letters To Support Time Warner Mega-Merger 179

Posted by Soulskill
from the where-the-money-lies dept.
WheezyJoe writes: As the FCC considers the merger between Comcast/Universal and Time-Warner Cable, which would create the largest cable company in the U.S. and is entering the final stages of federal review, politicians are pressuring the FCC with pro-merger letters actually written by Comcast. According to documents obtained through public records requests, politicians are passing letters nearly word-for-word written by Comcast as their own. "Not only do records show that a Comcast official sent the councilman the exact wording of the letter he would submit to the FCC, but also that finishing touches were put on the letter by a former FCC official named Rosemary Harold, who is now a partner at one of the nation's foremost telecom law firms in Washington, DC. Comcast has enlisted Harold to help persuade her former agency to approve the proposed merger."

Ars Technica had already reported that politicians have closely mimicked Comcast talking points and re-used Comcast's own statements without attribution. The documents revealed today show just how deeply Comcast is involved with certain politicians, and how they were able to get them on board.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Americans Support Mandatory Labeling of Food That Contains DNA 351

Posted by timothy
from the pure-sugar-all-the-time dept.
HughPickens.com writes Jennifer Abel writes at the LA Times that according to a recent survey (PDF), over 80% of Americans says they support "mandatory labels on foods containing DNA," roughly the same number that support the mandatory labeling of GMO foods "produced with genetic engineering." Ilya Somin, writing about the survey at the Washington Post, suggested that a mandatory label for foods containing DNA might sound like this: "WARNING: This product contains deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The Surgeon General has determined that DNA is linked to a variety of diseases in both animals and humans. In some configurations, it is a risk factor for cancer and heart disease. Pregnant women are at very high risk of passing on DNA to their children."

The report echoes a well-known joke/prank wherein people discuss the dangers of the chemical "dihydrogen monoxide" also known as hydrogen oxide and hydrogen hydroxide. Search online for information about dihydrogen monoxide, and you'll find a long list of scary-sounding and absolutely true warnings about it: the nuclear power industry uses enormous quantities of it every year. Dihydrogen monoxide is used in the production of many highly toxic pesticides, and chemical weapons banned by the Geneva Conventions. Dihydrogen monoxide is found in all tumors removed from cancer patients, and is guaranteed fatal to humans in large quantities and even small quantities can kill you, if it enters your respiratory system. In 2006, in Louisville, Kentucky, David Karem, executive director of the Waterfront Development Corporation, a public body that operates Waterfront Park, wished to deter bathers from using a large public fountain. "Counting on a lack of understanding about water's chemical makeup," he arranged for signs reading: "DANGER! – WATER CONTAINS HIGH LEVELS OF HYDROGEN – KEEP OUT" to be posted on the fountain at public expense.

Comment: Re:Why would anyone buy something from those catal (Score 1) 65

by frisket (#48895235) Attached to: Smartphones, Tablets and EBay Send SkyMall To Chapter 11

Long before those things ever existed people weren't buying SkyMall's useless, overpriced crap.

Obviously false, since people don't stay in a business for decades just to piss away money.

Wasn't that either. It comes as a shock to many N Americans to realise that SkyMall catalogs, like the Hammacher-Schlemmer catalog and others, are only available in N America. I, like many visitors, would gaze in amusement on domestic flights at the variety of unbelievable tat (and the occasional jewel) that was only available to N Americans.

There are plenty of suck^H^H^H^Hpotential customers in other countries too, but neither SkyMall nor any of its suppliers are aware of this, so (a) those markets go untapped, and (b) SkyMall dies.

So long, assholes.

Power

At Oxford, a Battery That's Lasted 175 Years -- So Far 211

Posted by timothy
from the ceaseless-tintinnabulation dept.
sarahnaomi writes There sits, in the Clarendon Laboratory at Oxford University, a bell that has been ringing, nonstop, for at least 175 years. It's powered by a single battery that was installed in 1840. Researchers would love to know what the battery is made of, but they are afraid that opening the bell would ruin an experiment to see how long it will last. The bell's clapper oscillates back and forth constantly and quickly, meaning the Oxford Electric Bell, as it's called, has rung roughly 10 billion times, according to the university. It's made of what's called a "dry pile," which is one of the first electric batteries. Dry piles were invented by a guy named Giuseppe Zamboni (no relation to the ice resurfacing company) in the early 1800s. They use alternating discs of silver, zinc, sulfur, and other materials to generate low currents of electricity.
Security

'Never Miss Another Delivery' - if You Have a TrackPIN (Video) 85

Posted by Roblimo
from the let-me-in-let-me-in-by-the-hair-on-my-chinny-chin-chin dept.
The company is called TrackPIN, as is the product. Its creator, Mark Hall, showed it off at CES. Timothy pointed his camcorder at Mark as he explained how his product would let you get package deliveries safely when you aren't home by giving the UPS or FedEx (or other) delivery person access to your garage, as well as letting in selected people like your maid, your plumber, and possibly an aquarium cleaner. Each one can have a private, one-time PIN number that will actuate your garage door opener through the (~$250) TrackPIN keypad and tell your smartphone or other net-connected device that your garage was just opened, and by whom. You might even call this, "One small step for package delivery; a giant leap forward for the Internet of Things." Except those of us who don't have garages (not to mention electric garage door openers) may want to skip today's video; the TrackPIN isn't meant for the likes of us. (Alternate Video Link)
Hardware

Quantum Computing Without Qubits 81

Posted by samzenpus
from the making-it-work dept.
An anonymous reader shares this interview with quantum computing pioneer Ivan Deutsch. "For more than 20 years, Ivan H. Deutsch has struggled to design the guts of a working quantum computer. He has not been alone. The quest to harness the computational might of quantum weirdness continues to occupy hundreds of researchers around the world. Why hasn't there been more to show for their work? As physicists have known since quantum computing's beginnings, the same characteristics that make quantum computing exponentially powerful also make it devilishly difficult to control. The quantum computing 'nightmare' has always been that a quantum computer's advantages in speed would be wiped out by the machine's complexity. Yet progress is arriving on two main fronts. First, researchers are developing unique quantum error-correction techniques that will help keep quantum processors up and running for the time needed to complete a calculation. Second, physicists are working with so-called analog quantum simulators — machines that can't act like a general-purpose computer, but rather are designed to explore specific problems in quantum physics. A classical computer would have to run for thousands of years to compute the quantum equations of motion for just 100 atoms. A quantum simulator could do it in less than a second."
Censorship

Blogger Who Revealed GOP Leader's KKK Ties Had Home Internet Lines Cut 418

Posted by timothy
from the coud-be-coincidence dept.
blottsie writes Last month, Lamar White, Jr. set off a firestorm in Washington when a post on his personal blog revealed that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the third most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives, was a featured speaker at a white nationalist conference put on by former Klu Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. Then someone climbed in his back yard and severed his Internet cables.

Comment: Re:Part of me says yes, like DR (Score 1) 124

by frisket (#48803465) Attached to: Do We Need Regular IT Security Fire Drills?

Everyone's talking about DR saying that a server has mysteriously gone offline or some disk has gotten corrupted and we need to restore to the last known backup point.

No-one seems to be thinking of a real disaster: 50' tidal surge, earthquake, or a fire destroying the entire IT setup.

Backups? Onto what, pray?
Use the cloud? There is no connectivity here.
Rig some borrowed PCs? Powered by what, exactly?

Unless you have a duplicate datacenter a long way away from your personal Ground Zero, no amount of drill on earth is going to prepare you for a real disaster. You'll be too busy shooting the guys who have come to take your food and fuel.

"Plastic gun. Ingenious. More coffee, please." -- The Phantom comics

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