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Creator of Relay On BITNET, Predecessor of IRC, Dies ( 34

tmjva writes: Jeff Kell passed away on November 25 as reported here in the 3000newswire. He was inventor of BITNET Relay, a predecessor of Internet Relay Chat using the REXX programming language.

In 1987 he wrote the following preserved article about RELAY and here is his obituary. May this early inventor rest in peace.

Submission + - Air Force hires civilian drone pilots for combat patrols - legality questioned (

schwit1 writes: For the first time, civilian pilots and crews now operate what the Air Force calls "combat air patrols," daily round-the-clock flights above areas of military operations to provide video and collect other sensitive intelligence.

Civilians are not allowed to pinpoint targets with lasers or fire missiles. They operate only Reapers that provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, known as ISR, said Air Force Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command.

Comment Consumer ignorance (Score 1) 480

It's beyond me in this day and age of ubiquitous information available at one's fingertips that anyone can walk into a dealership and NOT know what they want to buy (or at least have it narrowed down to one or two models and/or trim levels). You should do all your research BEFORE going to the dealership. The only point of going to the dealership should be to actually drive the car and confirm or refute what you already know about it.

Dealerships HATE informed customers because it basically removes the need for a salesperson. I don't WANT some smelly guy in a bad suit trying to tell me what I want. I already KNOW what I want. The only reason I'm even there is because I can't order one from the factory directly. I have my financing worked out with my credit union before I set foot in his doorway. The salesperson's total interaction with me ought to be "Here is a filled-out build sheet for the car I want along with all options I would like. Here is the price I'm willing to pay which ensures a modest profit for you and your dealership. I will not negotiate one penny above and beyond that, nor do I want to be sold on additional options or extras I have not already specified. Please locate the car in your database. If you have one on the lot that matches it, I'll take it today. If not, please have it delivered here and let me know when it arrives. Thank you. Goodbye."

Why in the hell can't we just ORDER these things from the factory??? Oh, dealerships have local politicians blocking that sort of thing. Land of the free, home of the brave-but-not-so-brave-that-we-want-actual-competition.

Submission + - GlassRAT Targets Chinese Nationals, Lurked for 3 Years Undetected (

chicksdaddy writes: RSA researchers issued a report today ( about a remote access trojan (or RAT) program dubbed “GlassRAT” that they are linking to sophisticated and targeted attacks on “Chinese nationals associated with large multinational corporations," The Security Ledger reports. (

Discovered by RSA in February of this year, GlassRAT was first created in 2012 and “appears to have operated, stealthily, for nearly 3 years in some environments,” in part with the help of a legitimate certificate from a prominent Chinese software publisher and signed by Symantec and Verisign, RSA reports.

The software is described as a “simple but capable RAT” that packs reverse shell features that allow attackers to remotely control infected computers as well as transfer files and list active processes. The dropper program associated with the file poses as the Adobe Flash player, and was named “Flash.exe” when it was first detected.

RSA discovered it on the PC of a Chinese national working for a large, U.S. multi-national corporation. RSA had been investigating suspicious network traffic on the enterprise network. RSA says telemetry data and anecdotal reports suggest that GlassRAT may principally be targeting Chinese nationals or other Chinese speakers, in China and elsewhere, since at least early 2013.

RSA said it has discovered links between GlassRAT and earlier malware families including Mirage, Magicfire and PlugX. Those applications have been linked to targeted campaigns against the Philippine military and the Mongolian government. (

Submission + - A Secretive Air Cargo Operation Is Running in Ohio, and Signs Point to Amazon (

citadrianne writes: In 2013, at the height of the holiday season, a surge of last minute Amazon orders and bad weather left many customers without gifts under the tree on Christmas day.

Amazon said the problem was not due to issues with its warehouses or staff, but failures on the part of UPS and other shipping partners. It apologized and reimbursed some customers with $20 gift cards, but the debacle underscored for Amazon the disadvantages of relying on third party shippers for its delivery process.

Since then, Amazon has been increasingly investing in its own alternatives, from contracting additional couriers to rolling out its own trucks in some cities.

The latest rumored venture into Amazon shipping has a name: Aerosmith.

An air cargo operation by that name launched in September of this year in Wilmington, Ohio on a trial basis. The operation is being run by the Ohio-based aviation holding company Air Transport Services Group, or ATSG, out of a state-of-the art facility. It's shipping consumer goods for a mysterious client that many believe to be Amazon.

Comment Re:This is only true (Score 2) 365

When what's legal and what's sustainable for the society are not aligned, there are likely one of two results: 1) Law is changed to be more sustainable or 2) the society suffers.

But hey, more power to those who can screw over everyone else for their tax free money!

If what the company is doing is not sustainable, the company will fail, as it should. If what society is doing is unsustainable, it will fail, as it should. It's called capitalism and if you leave it alone, you'd be surprised at how good it works.

What would you propose? We block companies from doing these kinds of inversions? They'd just transfer their entire operation overseas and then the US would see zero percent of that income. There are any number of other countries that would LOVE to have them, as is evidenced by their lower tax rates and success in luring said companies.

The stupidity is the assumption you can somehow control these companies, or punish them for their actions. Controlling them is impossible so long as there are other places to do business. Punishing them does nothing but punish those who consume their products or services. Putting them out of business adds to unemployment. Banning their products or services from the US market would damage consumers *and* employees. You know...employees...those people who work hard every day to take home a paycheck to their families. Not everyone at a corporation is Scrooge McDuck burning hundred dollar bills to warm their gold-plated mansion.

No, the answer is to lower our corporate tax burdens and win this business back to US shores and the US tax system. It doesn't take a genius to realize that 15% of something is better than 26% of nothing.

Submission + - Fake Bomb Detector, Blamed for Hundreds of Deaths, Is Still in Use writes: Murtaza Hussain writes at The Intercept that although it remains in use at sensitive security areas throughout the world, the ADE 651 is a complete fraud and the ADE-651’s manufacturer sold it with the full knowledge that it was useless at detecting explosives. There are no batteries in the unit and it consists of a swivelling aerial mounted to a hinge on a hand-grip. The device contains nothing but the type of anti-theft tag used to prevent stealing in high street stores and critics have likened it to a glorified dowsing rod.

The story of how the ADE 651 came into use involves the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. At the height of the conflict, as the new Iraqi government battled a wave of deadly car bombings, it purchased more than 7,000 ADE 651 units worth tens of millions of dollars in a desperate effort to stop the attacks. Not only did the units not help, the device actually heightened the bloodshed by creating “a false sense of security” that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of Iraqi civilians. A BBC investigation led to a subsequent export ban on the devices.

The device is once again back in the news as it was reportedly used for security screening at hotels in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh where a Russian airliner that took off from that city’s airport was recently destroyed in a likely bombing attack by the militant Islamic State group. Speaking to The Independent about the hotel screening, the U.K. Foreign Office stated it would “continue to raise concerns” over the use of the ADE 651. James McCormick, the man responsible for the manufacture and sale of the ADE 651, received a 10-year prison sentence for his part in manufacture of the devices, sold to Iraq for $40,000 each. An employee of McCormick who later became a whistleblower said that after becoming concerned and questioning McCormick about the device, McCormick told him the ADE 651 “does exactly what it’s designed to. It makes money.”

Comment Re:For those bitching about the "Special Editions" (Score 1) 424

If you're concerned about legality, just be sure you own the most recent Blu-Rays- much is based on those, and if you have an edit of a product you own (the Blu-Ray), that's totally legal.

No it's not, unfortunately. The edited version is still a derivative work, and it is illegal without the permission of the copyright holder, even if you own the original. It is not considered fair use. People have tried that argument in court in the past, and lost.

Submission + - Anonymous Reportedly "RickRolling" Isis (

retroworks writes: According to a recent tweet from the #OpParis account, Anonymous are delivering on their threat to hack Isis [slashdot, and are now flooding all pro-Isis hastags with the grandfather of all 2007 memes — Rick Aston's "Never Gonna Give You Up" (1987) music video, aka “Rick Roll” meme. Whenever a targeted Isis account tries to spread a message, the topic will instead be flooded with countless videos of Rick Astley circa 1987.

Not all are praising Anonymous methods, however. While Metro UK reports that the attacks have been successful, finding and shutting down 5,500 Twitter accounts, the article also indicates that professional security agencies have seen sources they monitor shut down. Rick Aston drowns out intelligence as well as recruitment.

Submission + - How Close Are We To a Mission on Mars? (

destinyland writes: "NASA is developing the capabilities needed to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s," reads the official NASA web site. But National Geographic points out that "the details haven't been announced, in large part because such a massive, long-term spending project would require the unlikely support of several successive U.S. presidents." And yet on November 4th, NASA put out a call for astronaut applications "in anticipation of returning human spaceflight launches to American soil, and in preparation for the agency’s journey to Mars," and they're currently experimenting with growing food in space. And this week they not only ordered the first commercial mission to the International Space Station, but also quietly announced that they've now partnered with 22 private space companies.

Submission + - Tape Disintegration Threatens Historical Records, But Chemistry Can Help (

An anonymous reader writes: Modern storage methods are designed with longevity in mind. But we haven't always had the scientific knowledge or the foresight to do so. From the late 60s to the late 80s, much of the world's cultural history was recorded on magnetic tapes. Several decades on, those tapes are disintegrating, and we're faced with the permanent loss of that data. "The Cultural Heritage Index estimates that there are 46 million magnetic tapes in museums and archives in the U.S. alone—and about 40 percent of them are of unknown quality. (The remaining 60 percent are known to be either already disintegrated or in good enough condition to be played.)" Fortunately, researchers have worked out a method to determine which copies are recoverable. They "combined a laptop-sized infrared spectrometer with an algorithm that uses multivariate statistics to pick up patterns of all the absorption peaks." Here's the abstract from their research paper. "As the tapes go through the breakdown reaction, the chemical changes give off tiny signals in the form of compounds, which can be seen with infrared light—and when the patterns of reactions are analyzed with the model, it can predict which tapes are playable."

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Is Scrum still relevant? (

An anonymous reader writes: In an article titled "Scrum is dead: breaking down the new open development method," Ahmad Nassri writes:

Among the most "oversold as a cure" methodologies introduced to business development teams today is Scrum, which is one of several agile approaches to software development and introduced as a way to streamline the process. Scrum has become something of an intractable method, complete with its own holy text, the Manifesto for Agile Software Development , and daily devotions (a.k.a., Scrum meetings).

Although Scrum may have made more sense when it was being developed in the early '90s, much has changed over the years. Startups and businesses have work forces spread over many countries and time zones, making sharing offices more difficult for employees. As our workforce world evolves, our software development methods should evolve, too.

What do you think? Is Scrum still a viable approach to software development, or is it time to make way for a different way of doing things?

Comment Re:Heinlein quote. (Score 1) 378

I hate to sound obtuse or unimaginative, but I'm wondering WHY anyone would want to colonize the Kuiper Belt? Other than scientific curiosity -- which is best served by robot probes -- what's to be gained by living there that you can't accomplish elsewhere in our solar system for much less cost and risk?

I can think of only two immediate reasons: those desiring the ultimate in autonomy and those fleeing population pressure. The former would be pretty extreme and would somewhat depend upon the latter happening first. The latter would have to be extreme indeed to the point where all the reasonably-habitable areas inside Pluto's orbit are already filled up, probably requiring hundreds of billions if not trillions of human beings assuming high population densities in, on, and orbiting every available planetary body and moon in the solar system.

Of course there's always the "because it's there" option for adrenaline junkies, but again you'd have to deplete all the other slightly-less-extreme objectives within the solar system before you'd need to hit the Kuiper Belt. And the expense involve would be beyond the reach of even the most intrepid adrenaline junkie.

Submission + - UK PM Wants To Speed Up Controversial Internet Bill After Paris Attacks (

An anonymous reader writes: Less than three days after the attacks in Paris, UK prime minister David Cameron has suggested that the process of review for the controversial Draft Investigatory Powers Bill should be accelerated. The controversial proposal, which would require British ISPs to retain a subset of a user's internet history for a year and in effect outlaw zero-knowledge encryption in the UK, was intended for parliamentary review and ratification by the end of 2016, but at the weekend ex-terrorist watchdog Lord Carlile was in the vanguard of demands to speed the bill into law by the end of this year, implicitly criticizing ex-NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for having 'shown terrorists ways to hide their electronic footprints'.

If it's worth hacking on well, it's worth hacking on for money.