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Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Questions US Government's Software Flaw Disclosure Policy

Posted by Soulskill
from the we'll-do-that-at-least-once-in-the-past-decade dept.
angry tapir writes: It's not clear if the U.S. government is living up to its promise to disclose serious software flaws to technology companies, a policy it put in place five years ago, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They write, "ODNI has now finished releasing documents in response to our suit, and the results are surprisingly meager. Among the handful of heavily redacted documents is a one-page list of VEP 'Highlights' from 2010. It briefly describes the history of the interagency working group that led to the development of the VEP and notes that the VEP established an office called the 'Executive Secretariat' within the NSA. The only other highlight left unredacted explains that the VEP 'creates a process for notification, decision-making, and appeals.' And that's it. This document, which is almost five years old, is the most recent one released. So where are the documents supporting the 'reinvigorated' VEP 2.0 described by the White House in 2014?"

+ - systemd team forks the Linux kernel->

Submitted by Celarent Darii
Celarent Darii (1561999) writes "The systemd developers have occasionally bumped heads with developers working on other projects, perhaps most notably Linus Torvalds, lead developer of the Linux kernel. Since systemd's init software works to bring the operating system on-line at boot time, systemd needs to work closely with the kernel and this can cause problems. In fact, some conflict and proposed solutions have resulted in at least one systemd developer getting banned from contributing to the Linux kernel.

Now it appears as though the systemd developers have found a solution to kernel compatibility problems and a way to extend their philosophy of placing all key operating system components in one repository. According to Ivan Gotyaovich, one of the developers working on systemd, the project intends to maintain its own fork of the Linux kernel. "There are problems, problems in collaboration, problems with compatibility across versions. Forking the kernel gives us control over these issues, gives us control over almost all key parts of the stack.""

Link to Original Source

+ - US Museums Outnumber Starbucks And McDonald's Combined->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The Washington Post reports, "There are roughly 11,000 Starbucks locations in the United States, and about 14,000 McDonald's restaurants. But combined, the two chains don't come close to the number of museums in the U.S., which stands at a whopping 35,000. So says the latest data release from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, an independent government agency that tallies the number and type of museums in this country. By their count the 35,000 active museums represent a doubling from the number estimated in the 1990s.""
Link to Original Source

+ - User resignation from an IT perspective

Submitted by recaptcha
recaptcha (4064357) writes "Today one of my fellow workers has announced he has found another job and will be leaving our company in two weeks' time. This is all above board and there is no disgruntled employee scenario here; he is simply working through his notice period and finishing up some jobs. I have already set some fileserver folders to Read-Only for him and taken a backup of his mailbox in case he empties it on the last day. Which best practices do you follow that will prevent a resigning user from causing any damage (deliberately or not) in these last days of employment before his account is disabled?"

+ - X-37B to fly again

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "The May 6 Atlas 5 launch will carry one of the Air Force’s two X-37B mini-shuttles on a new mission in space.

The Air Force won’t yet confirm which of the Boeing-built spaceplanes will be making the voyage. The first craft returned in October from a 675-day mission in space following a 224 day trek in 2010. OTV No. 2 spent 469 days in space in 2011-2012 on its only mission so far. “The program selects the Orbital Test Vehicle for each activity based upon the experiment objectives,” said Capt. Chris Hoyler, an Air Force spokesperson. “Each OTV mission builds upon previous on-orbit demonstrations and expands the test envelope of the vehicle. The test mission furthers the development of the concept of operations for reusable space vehicles.”

There are indications that the Air Force wants to attempt landing the shuttle at Kennedy this time."

Comment: Re:How did they get caught? (Score 1) 114

by Trepidity (#49376557) Attached to: Silk Road Investigators Charged With Stealing Bitcoin

According to the indictment, part of how they were caught is that as part of laundering their proceeds, they tried to strongarm the payment processor Venmo, who had closed their accounts as part of automated fraud detection. Venmo was unhappy with being strongarmed, and sent a complaint to someone higher up at the agency. The agents then tried to suppress the complaint, and simultaneously retaliate against Venmo by trying to start an investigation. That attempted investigation pulled in the IRS, whose investigators thought a bunch of things looked suspicious, and dug up enough dirt to blow the whistle on the agents in this case.

So I guess in short, they pissed off both a payment company and the IRS.

Businesses

Why You Should Choose Boring Technology 106

Posted by Soulskill
from the predictable-headaches dept.
An anonymous reader writes Dan McKinley, a long-time Etsy engineer who now works at online payment processor Stripe, argues that the boring technology option is usually your best choice for a new project. He says, "Let's say every company gets about three innovation tokens. You can spend these however you want, but the supply is fixed for a long while. You might get a few more after you achieve a certain level of stability and maturity, but the general tendency is to overestimate the contents of your wallet. Clearly this model is approximate, but I think it helps. If you choose to write your website in NodeJS, you just spent one of your innovation tokens. If you choose to use MongoDB, you just spent one of your innovation tokens. If you choose to use service discovery tech that's existed for a year or less, you just spent one of your innovation tokens. If you choose to write your own database, oh god, you're in trouble. ... The nice thing about boringness (so constrained) is that the capabilities of these things are well understood. But more importantly, their failure modes are well understood."

+ - Amazon testing drone delivery in Canada->

Submitted by Keith J Duhaime
Keith J Duhaime (1643277) writes "According to the CBC, it appears that US red tape is a boon to developing and testing drones in Canada. Amazon is apparently testing drones for delivery somewhere in British Columbia, Canada at a secret location near the US border. They are using other countries too, but seem to be frustrated with the regulatory environment in the US itself."
Link to Original Source

+ - Bitcoin in China still chugging along, a year after clampdown->

Submitted by angry tapir
angry tapir (1463043) writes "A year after China began tightening regulations around Bitcoin, the virtual currency is still thriving in the country, albeit on the fringes, according to its largest exchange. Bitcoin prices may have declined, but Chinese buyers are still trading the currency in high volumes with the help of BTC China, an exchange that witnessed the boom days back in 2013, only to see the bust following the Chinese government's announcement, in December of that year, that banks would be banned from trading in bitcoin."
Link to Original Source

+ - Cancer researcher vanishes with tens of millions of dollars->

Submitted by jd
jd (1658) writes "Steven Curley, MD, who ran the Akesogenx corporation (and may indeed have been the sole employee after the dismissal of Robert Zavala) had been working on a radio-frequency cure for cancer with an engineer by the name of John Kanzius.

Kanzius died, Steven Curley set up the aforementioned parallel company that bought all the rights and patents to the technology before shuttering the John Kanzius Foundation. So far, so very uncool.

Last year, just as the company started aproaching the FDA about clinical trials, Dr Curley got blasted with lawsuits accusing him of loading his shortly-to-be ex-wife's computer with spyware.

Two weeks ago, there was to be a major announcement "within two weeks". Shortly after, the company dropped off the Internet and Dr Curley dropped off the face of the planet.

Robert Zavala is the only name mentioned that could be a fit for the company's DNS record owner. The company does not appear to have any employees other than Dr Curley, making it very unlikely he could have ever run a complex engineering project well enough to get to trial stage. His wife doubtless has a few scores to settle. Donors, some providing several millions, were getting frustrated — and as we know from McAfee, not all in IT are terribly sane. There are many people who might want the money and have no confidence any results were forthcoming.

So, what precisely was the device? Simple enough. Every molecule has an absorption line. It can absorb energy on any other frequency. A technique widely exploited in physics, chemistry and astronomy. People have looked into various ways of using it in medicine for a long time.

The idea was to inject patients with nanoparticles on an absorption line well clear of anything the human body cares about. These particles would be preferentially picked up by cancer cells because they're greedy. Once that's done, you blast the body at the specified frequency. The cancer cells are charbroiled and healthy cells remain intact.

It's an idea that's so obvious I was posting about it here and elsewhere in 1998. The difference is, they had a prototype that seemed to work.

But now there is nothing but the sound of Silence, a suspect list of thousands and a list of things they could be suspected of stretching off to infinity. Most likely, there's a doctor sipping champaign on some island with no extradition treaty. Or a future next-door neighbour to Hans Reiser. Regardless, this will set back cancer research. Money is limited and so is trust. It was, in effect, crowdsource funded and that, too, will feel a blow if theft was involved.

Or it could just be the usual absent-minded scientist discovering he hasn't the skills or awesomeness needed, but has got too much pride to admit it, as has happened in so many science fraud cases."

Link to Original Source

Comment: You are seriously telling me... (Score 1) 921

by emil (#49375599) Attached to: Apple's Tim Cook Calls Out "Religious Freedom" Laws As Discriminatory

...that the slaughter of Sepphoris would have no impact whatsoever on the childhood of Yeshua? That the wounded refugees sheltering in Nazereth would have no impact on him? That childhood memories of a Roman atrocity would have no lasting effect? That the PTSD his family likely suffered made no difference whatsoever?

You also mistake guile in talk of the occupation for peaceful intent - direct threats against the Romans was suicide. Did not Jesus say to sell your cloak and buy a sword? That he came to set 3 against 2, and 2 of 3, father against son, and mother daughter?

I'm not buying it. Reread all you like.

Comment: Re:"principles our nation was founded on" (Score 1) 921

Then you think that no law should be based on religious belief; when in fact all law is.

I cannot keep up with the contortion of intellectual dishonesty required to type that sentence with a straight face. I don't think you're lying to me and that you really believe this, but I equally believe that you're lying to yourself. Have a nice day and best of luck in your future endeavors.

Comment: Re:"principles our nation was founded on" (Score 1) 921

"Separation of church and state", as a specific quote or concept, is nowhere in the founding legal documents of the United States.

It was no less than Thomas Jefferson who said:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.

Next, your strawman:

It's use did not create prohibition against religious expression.

Correct. Still doesn't. You're legally entitled to say "blacks are of the devil" (or whites for that matter). Go ahead! No government agency will stop you. However, you're not allowed to discriminate based on race, color, religion or national origin in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce (court-upheld interpretation: pretty much anywhere).

No one believes that any of our rights are unlimited. You can speak your opinion, but you can't yell fire in a theater. You can bear arms, but don't expect to own a nuclear bomb. You can sincerely believe that whites are a superior species to blacks, but you don't get to own, kill, intimidate, lynch, or otherwise harm a black guy, regardless of your vile beliefs. This isn't something I'm making up out of whole cloth, but well-established and widely accepted interpretation of Federal law.

Documents which govern the FEDERAL government do not necessarily apply to State or Local governments.

Read your Constitution, son. The 14th amendment says:

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

This codified previous Constitutional supremacy thoughts by explicitly stating that States don't get to write laws violating the Constitution or selectively affording privileges to one group and not another.

Australia

Oops: World Leaders' Personal Data Mistakenly Released By Autofill Error 124

Posted by samzenpus
from the sounds-like-a-case-of-the-mondays dept.
mpicpp writes in with this story about a mistake that saw personal details of world leaders accidentally disclosed by the Australian immigration department. "With a single key stroke, the personal information of President Obama and 30 other world leaders was mistakenly released by an official with Australia's immigration office. Passport numbers, dates of birth, and other personal information of the heads of state attending a G-20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, were inadvertently emailed to one of the organizers of January's Asian Cup football tournament, according to The Guardian. The U.K. newspaper obtained the information as a result of an Australia Freedom of Information request. Aside from President Obama, leaders whose data were released include Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese President Xi Jinping and British Prime Minister David Cameron. The sender forgot to check the auto-fill function in the email 'To' field in Microsoft Outlook before hitting send, the BBC reports."

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