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Security

Finn Linked To Lizard Squad Christmas Attack 47

Posted by timothy
from the little-griefers dept.
An anonymous reader writes Security researcher Mikko Hyppönen from F-Secure told the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat and Finland's MTV news that rumours have been circulating for several months about the Lizard Squad group of hackers who say they disrupted the two computer games console networks on Christmas Day. He confirmed that at least one of them is a Finn. One of the hackers, in a Skype interview from Finland by Britain's Sky News, said that the attack was carried out for amusement and to expose security flaws in the networks. Hyppönen told Helsingin Sanomat and MTV that his company has been aware of the hacker group for several months. 'According to our information, the group has members in the United States, Canada, England and at least one member in Finland,' he told MTV. The nationalities of other members that participated in the Christmas attack have not been confirmed. Hyppönen noted that these kinds of groups come and go, and that their members are usually young.
Communications

Lizard Squad Targets Tor 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the reasons-"torget"-should-be-a-word dept.
mrspoonsi tips news that Lizard Squad, the hacker group who knocked Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network offline on Christmas morning, has now turned its attention to Tor. After tweeting that they were targeting a Tor-related zero-day flaw, the group is now in control of 3,000 exit nodes — almost half of them. "If one group is controlling the majority of the nodes, it could be able to eavesdrop on a substantial number of vulnerable users. Which means Lizard Squad could gain the power to track Tor users if it infiltrates enough of the network."
PlayStation (Games)

Why Lizard Squad Took Down PSN and Xbox Live On Christmas Day 330

Posted by samzenpus
from the ruining-it-for-everybody dept.
DroidJason1 writes Early Christmas morning, hacker group Lizard Squad took credit for taking down PlayStation Network and Xbox Live for hours. This affected those who had received new Xbox One or PS4 consoles, preventing them from playing online. So why did they do it? According to an exclusive interview with Lizard Squad, it had to do with convincing companies to improve their security — the hard way. "Taking down Microsoft and Sony networks shows the companies' inability to protect their consumers and instead shows their true vulnerability. Lizard Squad claims that their actions are simple, take down gaming networks for a short while, and forcing companies to upgrade their security as a result."
PlayStation (Games)

Xbox Live and PlayStation Networks Downed By Apparent Attack 160

Posted by timothy
from the no-fun-for-you dept.
mrspoonsi writes Both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network [were] down this morning, apparently due to a denial-of-service attack. The notorious hacking group Lizard Squad — which already carried out earlier attacks on Microsoft and Sony — has claimed responsibility on Twitter for these latest outages. While the group's role in all of this remains unconfirmed, it's worth noting that the group threatened last week to take down Xbox Live and PSN, according to Business Insider. And again, Lizard Squad has already proven it can successfully pull off such attacks, not to mention other malicious pranks.

Whatever the cause, the timing is obviously terrible: Plenty of people surely received one of the two consoles as Christmas presents today, while many more gamers would have happily spent the afternoon in front of the TV. In the meantime, both Sony and Microsoft have acknowledged the problem, with Sony issuing a tweet and Microsoft posting a message on its support website: "We're working to address this as quickly as we possibly can," reads its status website. "Thanks for your patience, Xbox members." In an email, a Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment further or say when the company expects to restore service. We've also asked Sony to comment and will update this post if and when it does.
The Xbox Live status page says service remains "limited," and the Playstation Network is listed as offline.
Android

De-escalating the Android Patent War 63

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-bilk-the-USPTO-together dept.
In 2011, a consortium formed from Microsoft, Apple, Sony, BlackBerry, and others spent $4.5 billion acquiring Nortel's patent portfolio, which contained a great deal of ammunition that could be used against Android. That threat has now been reduced. Today, 4,000 of the patents were purchased by a corporation called RPX, which has licensing agreements from Google, Cisco, and dozens more companies. [RPX is] a company that collects a bunch of patents with the goal of using those patents for member companies for defensive purposes. Even though RPX has generally been "good," the business model basically lives because of patent trolling. Its very existence is because of all the patent trolling and abuse out there. In this case, though, it's making sure that basically anyone can license these patents under FRAND (fair and reasonable, non-discriminatory) rates. The price being paid is approximately $900 million. While that article points out that this is considerably less than the $4.5 billion Microsoft and Apple paid originally, again, this is only 4,000 of the 6,000 patents, and you have to assume the 2,000 the other companies kept were the really valuable patents. In short, this is basically Google and Cisco (with some help from a few others) licensing these patents to stop the majority of the lawsuits -- while also making sure that others can pay in as well should they feel threatened. Of course, Microsoft, Apple and the others still have control over the really good patents they kept for themselves, rather than give to Rockstar. And the whole thing does nothing for innovation other than shift around some money.
Lord of the Rings

Ars: Final Hobbit Movie Is 'Soulless End' To 'Flawed' Trilogy 348

Posted by Soulskill
from the things-you'll-pay-for-even-though-you-know-you'll-hate dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The final chapter to Peter Jackson's series of films based on The Hobbit debuted last week, and the reviews haven't been kind. Ars Technica just posted theirs, and it highlights all the problems with Battle of the Five Armies, a two-hour and twenty-four minute film based on only 72 pages of the book. Quoting: "The battles in Battle of the Five Armies are deadly boring, bereft of suspense, excessively padded, and predictable to the point of being contemptuous of the audience. Suspense is attempted mostly by a series of last-minute saves and switches. ... There are other problems. Everyone in this movie takes themselves way too seriously, which makes them even harder to sympathize with. Peter Jackson leans way too hard on voice modulation to make characters seem menacing or powerful. The movie's tone is still way out of step with the book's tone. ... There's one big thing that doomed these movies from the outset — the fiscally smart but artistically bankrupt decision to make a single, shortish children's novel into three feature-length prequel films." Other review titles: "Peter Jackson Must Be Stopped," "The Phantom Menace of Middle Earth," and "Lots of Fighting, Not Much Hobbit."
Movies

'Citizenfour' Producers Sued Over Edward Snowden Leaks 162

Posted by Soulskill
from the indicting-a-ham-sandwich dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this news from The Hollywood Reporter: Horace Edwards, who identifies himself as a retired naval officer and the former secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation, has filed a lawsuit in Kansas federal court that seeks a constructive trust over monies derived from the distribution of Citizenfour. Edwards ... seeks to hold Snowden, director Laura Poitras, The Weinstein Co., Participant Media and others responsible for "obligations owed to the American people" and "misuse purloined information disclosed to foreign enemies." It's an unusual lawsuit, one that the plaintiff likens to "a derivative action on behalf of the American Public," and is primarily based upon Snowden's agreement with the United States to keep confidentiality. ... Edwards appears to be making the argument that Snowden's security clearance creates a fiduciary duty of loyalty — one that was allegedly breached by Snowden's participation in the production of Citizenfour without allowing prepublication clearance review. As for the producers and distributors, they are said to be "aiding and abetting the theft and misuse of stolen government documents." The lawsuit seeks a constructive trust to redress the alleged unjust enrichment by the film. A 1980 case that involved a former CIA officer's book went up to the Supreme Court and might have opened the path to such a remedy.
Patents

Uber Pushing For Patent On Surge Pricing 188

Posted by Soulskill
from the efficiently-separating-you-from-your-money dept.
mpicpp sends news that Uber is renewing its push for a patent on "surge pricing," the practice of increasing rider fees when many people are trying to find transportation. The system measures supply (Uber drivers) and demand (passengers hailing rides with smartphones), and prices fares accordingly. It’s one of at least 13 U.S. patent applications filed by Uber or its founders to give it an edge over potential rivals ahead of a potential initial public offering. So far, Uber hasn’t had any luck. Ten applications were initially rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for “obviousness” or for covering something not eligible for protection.
Education

Putting Time Out In Time Out: The Science of Discipline 323

Posted by samzenpus
from the how-can-you-have-any-pudding-if-you-don't-eat-your-meat? dept.
An anonymous reader points out this story at The Atlantic about new research and approaches in the science of discipline. "At the end of a gravel road in the Chippewa National Forest of northern Minnesota, a group of camp counselors have gathered to hear psychotherapist Tina Bryson speak about neuroscience, mentorship, and camping. She is in Minnesota by invitation of the camp. Chippewa is at the front of a movement to bring brain science to bear on the camping industry; she keynoted this past year's American Camping Association annual conference. As Bryson speaks to the counselors gathered for training, she emphasizes one core message: At the heart of effective discipline is curiosity—curiosity on the part of the counselors to genuinely understand and respect what the campers are experiencing while away from home....She is part of a progressive new group of scientists, doctors, and psychologists whose goal is ambitious, if not outright audacious: They want to redefine "discipline" in order to change our culture. They want to rewrite—or perhaps more precisely said, rewire—how we interact with kids, and they want us to understand that our decisions about parenting affect not only our children's minds, but ours as well. So, we're going to need to toss out our old discipline mainstays. Say goodbye to timeouts. So long spanking and other ritualized whacks. And cry-it-out sleep routines? Mercifully, they too can be a thing of the past. And yet, we can still help our children mature and grow. In fact, people like Bryson think we'll do it better. If we are going to take seriously what science tells us about how we form relationships and how our mind develops, we will need to construct new strategies for parenting, and when we do, says this new group of researchers, we just may change the world."
The Media

Skeptics Would Like Media To Stop Calling Science Deniers 'Skeptics' 718

Posted by Soulskill
from the intellectual-brand-recognition dept.
Layzej writes: Prominent scientists, science communicators, and skeptic activists, are calling on the news media to stop using the word "skeptic" when referring to those who refuse to accept the reality of climate change, and instead refer to them by what they really are: science deniers. "Not all individuals who call themselves climate change skeptics are deniers. But virtually all deniers have falsely branded themselves as skeptics. By perpetrating this misnomer, journalists have granted undeserved credibility to those who reject science and scientific inquiry."
Blackberry

Review: The BlackBerry Classic Is One of the Best Phones of 2009 132

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-it-aint-broke dept.
Molly McHugh writes When Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, and I owned a BlackBerry Curve. To me, my BlackBerry was close to being the absolute perfect smartphone. Today, BlackBerry revealed the Classic, a phone that is designed to make me—and everyone who owned a BlackBerry before the touchscreen revolution—remember how much we loved them.
Transportation

Who's To Blame For Rules That Block Tesla Sales In Most US States? 141

Posted by timothy
from the did-you-get-a-look-at-the-license-plate? dept.
cartechboy writes The common assumption among Tesla fans seems to be that state auto-dealer lobbyists are working with Republican legislators to enact laws banning direct sales of Tesla's electric cars to retail buyers. Is it true? The New York Times published an article with some data points that assesses the supposition. While the article mainly focuses on the conflict between Uber and the Republican party, some quotes could be easily applied to Tesla. For instance, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Preibus said, "It should be consumers, not government bureaucrats or legislators, that deicde what companies get our business." The author of the article, Josh Barro, wrote that 22 states permit direct sales of automobiles by Tesla to retail buyers, and of those the majority--14 of them-- voted for President Obama. He suggested that Democratic California, Illinois, and New York "have freer markets in auto retailing than Texas," which is presently Republican. When looking at a five-year-old article by Nate Silver that looked at political donations by car dealers, fully 88 percent of those donations went to Republican candidates, and just 12 percent to Democrats. That possibly suggests a propensity among Republican state legislators to support the interests for car dealers over those of electric-car buyers. Is the small bit of evidence enough to make a case? Good background on the current system of dealership sinecure can be found in this short 2009 Competition Advocacy Paper from the U.S. Department of Justice, which delves into the history and effects of the dealers-only system which still prevails.
Google

Google Strikes Deal With Verizon To Reduce Patent Troll Suits 20

Posted by samzenpus
from the why-can't-we-be-friends? dept.
mpicpp writes Google Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. struck a long-term patent cross-license agreement to reduce the risk of future patent lawsuits, the latest in a string of deals that signal a slowdown after years of aggressive patent wars. The deal effectively bars the companies from suing each other over any of the thousands of patents the companies currently own or acquire in the next five years. It also protects the companies if either sells a patent to another company, and that company attempts a lawsuit. "This cross license allows both companies to focus on delivering great products and services to consumers around the world," said Kirk Dailey, Google's head of patent transactions.
AI

Economists Say Newest AI Technology Destroys More Jobs Than It Creates 681

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'm-sorry-dave,-there's-a-hiring-freeze-right-now dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Claire Cain Miller notes at the NY Times that economists long argued that, just as buggy-makers gave way to car factories, technology used to create as many jobs as it destroyed. But now there is deep uncertainty about whether the pattern will continue, as two trends are interacting. First, artificial intelligence has become vastly more sophisticated in a short time, with machines now able to learn, not just follow programmed instructions, and to respond to human language and movement. At the same time, the American work force has gained skills at a slower rate than in the past — and at a slower rate than in many other countries. Self-driving vehicles are an example of the crosscurrents. Autonomous cars could put truck and taxi drivers out of work — or they could enable drivers to be more productive during the time they used to spend driving, which could earn them more money. But for the happier outcome to happen, the drivers would need the skills to do new types of jobs.

When the University of Chicago asked a panel of leading economists about automation, 76 percent agreed that it had not historically decreased employment. But when asked about the more recent past, they were less sanguine. About 33 percent said technology was a central reason that median wages had been stagnant over the past decade, 20 percent said it was not and 29 percent were unsure. Perhaps the most worrisome development is how poorly the job market is already functioning for many workers. More than 16 percent of men between the ages of 25 and 54 are not working, up from 5 percent in the late 1960s; 30 percent of women in this age group are not working, up from 25 percent in the late 1990s. For those who are working, wage growth has been weak, while corporate profits have surged. "We're going to enter a world in which there's more wealth and less need to work," says Erik Brynjolfsson. "That should be good news. But if we just put it on autopilot, there's no guarantee this will work out."
Earth

Linking Drought and Climate Change: Difficult To Do 222

Posted by samzenpus
from the connecting-the-dots dept.
Geoffrey.landis writes An article about the current California drought on 538 points out that even though global climate warming may exacerbate droughts, it's nearly impossible to attribute any particular drought to climate warming: "The complex, dynamic nature of our atmosphere and oceans makes it extremely difficult to link any particular weather event to climate change. That's because of the intermingling of natural variations with human-caused ones." They also cite a Nature editorial pointing out the same thing about extreme weather.

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