Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Ethical & Successful Busines Models for FLOSS

An anonymous reader writes: I'm interested in creating really good open source software. However, unless programmers have an incentive to work on their projects for long periods, many projects are be abandoned.

There's many business models surrounding FLOSS: support (pay for help, or additional features), premium (pay for more advanced software), hosting (pay for using the software on someone else's servers), donation (two versions of the same app, pay because you want to be nice to the developers), etc.

Not all of those business models align the interests of the developer and the customer/user in the same way: support-based models for example, benefit developers who introduce certain mistakes or delay introducing features. (In the short term. In the long run, it opens a door for competitors.)

What other business models have been successful for Open source software? Which of those align the interests of both? Are any of them morally questionable?

Submission + - Samsung Unveils New Electric Car Batteries For Up To 430 Miles of Range (electrek.co)

An anonymous reader writes: At the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA Cars 2017) this week, Samsung’s battery division, Samsung SDI, showcases a new “Multifunctional battery pack” solution to enable more range in electric vehicles as the Korean company tries to carve itself a bigger share of the growing automotive battery market. Most established automakers, like Nissan with the LEAF or even GM with the more recent Chevy Bolt EV, have been using large prismatic cells to build their electric vehicle battery packs. Tesla pioneered a different approach using thousands of individual smaller cylindrical li-ion battery cells in each pack. Earlier this year, Samsung unveiled its own ‘2170’ battery cell to compete with Tesla/Panasonic. Now they are claiming that they can reach an impressive energy density by using those cells in new modules: "'Multifunctional battery pack' of Samsung SDI attracted the most attention. Its users can change the number of modules as they want as if they place books on a shelf. For example, if 20 modules are installed in a premium car, it can go 600 to 700 kilometers. If 10 to 12 modules are mounted on a regular sedan, it can run up to 300 kilometers. This pack is expected to catch the eyes of automakers, because they can design a car whose mileage may vary depending on how many modules of a single pack are installed."

Submission + - Supreme court rules social media is a constitutional right

An anonymous reader writes: The supreme court has ruled that social media is a constitutional right.

The US Supreme Court on Monday declared as unconstitutional a 2008 North Carolina law barring registered sex offenders from accessing commercial social media sites where minors may become members or create personal pages or profiles.

The justices ruled that the law, used to prosecute more than 1,000 registered sex offenders, was a breach of the First Amendment because "cyberspace" amounted to the "modern public square."

In addition to allowing sex offenders to use social media, they may have also, by declaring that social media was a "modern public square" (emphasis on public), have opened the door to people suing US social media companies after being banned.

Submission + - Climate Change Could Wipe Out a Third of Parasite Species, Study Finds (nytimes.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Recently, scientists carried out the first large-scale study of what climate change may do to the world’s much-loathed parasites. The team came to a startling conclusion: as many as one in three parasite species may face extinction in the next century. As global warming raises the planet’s temperature, the researchers found, many species will lose territory in which to survive. Some of their hosts will be lost, too. Researchers have begun carefully studying the roles that parasites play. They make up the majority of the biomass in some ecosystems, outweighing predators sharing their environments by a factor of 20 to 1. For decades, scientists who studied food webs drew lines between species — between wildebeest and the grass they grazed on, for example, and between the wildebeest and the lions that ate them. In a major oversight, they didn’t factor in the extent to which parasites feed on hosts. As it turns out, as much as 80 percent of the lines in a given food web are links to parasites. They are big players in the food supply.

Some researchers had already investigated the fate of a few parasite species, but Colin J. Carlson, lead author of the study and a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues wanted to get a global view of the impact of climate change. Some kinds won’t lose much in a warming world, the study found. For instance, thorny-headed worms are likely to be protected because their hosts, fish and birds, are common and widespread. But other types, such as fleas and tapeworms, may not be able to tolerate much change in temperature; many others infect only hosts that are facing extinction, as well. In all, roughly 30 percent of parasitic species could disappear, Mr. Carlson concluded. The impact of climate change will be as great or greater for these species as for any others studied so far.

Submission + - Elon Musk: SpaceX will dominate long distance Internet traffic. 1

lpress writes: SpaceX's first Internet satellite constellation will consist of 4,425 satellites at an altitude of 1,110 to 1,325 km. At 1,110 km, the distance to the horizon is 3,923 km so each satellite will have a line-of-sight view of all others within 7,846 kilometers. They will communicate optically, forming an immense mesh network, cutting latency time. For example, a link from Los Angeles to the southern tip of Chile will take 5 fast optical hops as opposed to 14 slower cable hops.

Submission + - Study Finds That Banning Trolls Works, To Some Degree (vice.com)

An anonymous reader writes: On October 5, 2015, facing mounting criticism about the hate groups proliferating on Reddit, the site banned a slew of offensive subreddits, including r/Coontown and r/fatpeoplehate, which targeted Black people and those with weight issues. But did banning these online groups from Reddit diminish hateful behavior overall, or did the hate just spread to other places? A new study from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, and University of Michigan examines just that, and uses data collected from 100 million Reddit posts that were created before and after the aforementioned subreddits were dissolved. Published in the journal ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, the researchers conclude that the 2015 ban worked. More accounts than expected discontinued their use on the site, and accounts that stayed after the ban drastically reduced their hate speech. However, studies like this raise questions about the systemic issues facing the internet at large, and how our culture should deal with online hate speech.

Submission + - Kaspersky software banned from US government systems over concerns about Russia (betanews.com)

Mark Wilson writes: The Department of Homeland Security has told US government agencies to remove Kaspersky software from their systems. The directive was issued because of concerns about influence exerted over the company by the Russian government.

Government agencies have been given three months to identify and start to remove Kaspersky's security products. Kaspersky has constantly denied connections to the Russian government, but the US is simply not willing to take the risk.

Submission + - Equifax has new data breach by hackers using "admin" as password (bbc.com)

wired_parrot writes: The credit report provider Equifax has been accused of a fresh data security breach, this time affecting its Argentine operations. The breach was revealed after security researchers discovered that an online employee tool used by Equifax Argentina was accessible using the "admin/admin" password combination

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: What Are You Reading This Month?

An anonymous reader writes: Hey folks! Could you share what are some books (or book) you're reading this month? Maybe it's the book you've already started, or you intend to begin or resume later this month? Thanks!

Submission + - Theory of Everything: Another big step? (cqgplus.com) 1

Raharazod writes: From their newsletter:

One of the most interesting features of the theory and framework, that we now present, is that it appears to rule out the space-time singularities purported to exist within black holes as well as the initial big bang singularity. If confirmed this will imply that black holes are not infinitely “deep” and that the big bang probably never happened — at least not as a bang.

As I have already discussed in previous newsletters the great unsolved problem in theoretical physics is how to reconcile Einsteins theory of general relativity with quantum theory. But there exist, in fact, a less famous but equally important problem, which is to understand what a quantum theory of fields actually is.

Imagine that you have been searching for ancient buildings with a tiny torchlight in the dark. And then, after much effort and many detours and disappointments, you finally discover an entrance — and the entrance you have found looks promising, it looks like the entrance to a palace, or perhaps a pyramid, but you don’t know yet, all you know is that at the end of the corridor that you have just entered you can see the faint contours of a number of doors and what you want to do now is to walk across the room and try all the doors, one after another, to see what’s behind them.
This is where Johannes and I are now. We have found an entrance and have walked in — and now we’re in the business of checking doors. For an explorer that is a good place to be.

Published papers can be found here and here. A link to their story can be found here.
Note: The "story" is old. The papers were published on September 12th, 2017.
Warning: shortened links in use. The papers are direct to PDF links.

Submission + - Upgraded Wendelstein 7-X Stellarator Resumes Operations

Myrdos writes: The Wendelstein 7-X, the largest stellarator-type fusion generator in the world, has resumed operations after a 15-month upgrade. Over 8,000 graphite wall tiles have been installed in the plasma vessel, which protect the vessel walls and permit plasma discharges lasting up to 10 seconds. The Wendelstein 7-X can now achieve 80 megajoules of energy throughput, compared with 4 megajoules in 2016. Previously, the microwave heating had only been able to heat essentially just the electrons. Both the electrons and ions in the new plasma will have almost equal temperatures of up to 70 million degrees, meeting power plant requirements.

Newly enlisted measuring instruments will also allow observation of turbulence in the plasma for the first time: The small eddies entailed influence how successful magnetic confinement and thermal insulation of the hot plasma are, which determine the size of a future power plant and hence its economical merit. Project Head Professor Thomas Klinger says “We shall be able for the first time to check whether the promising predictions of theory for a completely optimised stellarator are correct”.

Submission + - Exploit Broker Zerodium Offers $1 Million for Tor Browser Zero-Days (bleepingcomputer.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Zerodium, a company that buys exploits to sell to government agencies, is offering up to $1 million for zero-days affecting the Tor Browser. In a bug acquisition program launched today, the company says it's interested in Tor Browser exploits that "[lead] to remote code execution on the targeted OS either with privileges of the current user or with unrestricted root/SYSTEM privileges." The company said it's searching for exploits that work on Tails — a privacy-hardened version of Linux — and Windows.

The exploit broker is interested in high-complexity exploits that do not require user interaction or show any errors or popups. Zerodium said it's looking for zero-days that require users only to visit a web page. The company is not picky, accepting zero-days that work against Tor Browser instances running with security settings set to "high" (JavaScript disabled) or security settings set to "low" (default Tor Browser configuration). The company is willing to pay up to $250,000 per exploit in a budget of $1 million. Zerodium says high government demand has spurned it to launch this bug bounty with special prices.

Submission + - U.C. Berkeley Police Officer Seizes Cash From Hot Dog Vendor's Wallet (nytimes.com)

cdreimer writes: According to a report in The New York Times (possibly paywalled, alternative source), a University of California Berkeley police officer ticketed and then seized $60 in cash from the wallet of a hot dog vendor operating without a permit. A bystander recorded the encounter on video. According for a spokesperson for U.C. Berkeley police, the cash was seized as evidence of a crime. A GoFundMe campaign has raised over $70,000 for the hot dog vendor and other cart vendors for legal action against the police and university.

A stunned look fell over the hot dog vendor’s face as a police officer, ticketing him for lacking a permit, reached into the man’s wallet and pulled out $60. The vendor and a passer-by recording the exchange protested. “That’s not right,” said the cameraman. “That’s how it works,” replied the officer, of U.C. Berkeley’s police department. And now, video of the encounter outside a Golden Bears football game Saturday has become a fixation of the internet outrage machine. Uploaded over the weekend, it’s been watched millions of times and prompted demands for the officer’s firing. It’s also reinvigorated a debate in California over civil forfeiture, which allows the authorities to seize cash and property from people suspected of wrongdoing. Last year, the practice brought the state’s law enforcement agencies more than $115 million, according to government figures. Policing groups argue that it’s an essential tool in combating drug trafficking. Critics say it’s been misused to generate revenue, in some cases from suspects never convicted of wrongdoing.


Submission + - The Brain-Machine Interface Isn't Sci-Fi Anymore (wired.com)

mirandakatz writes: 2017 has been a coming-out year of sorts for the brain-machine interface: Everyone from Facebook to Elon Musk has declared their intent to build a technology to channel the mysterious contents of the two-and-a-half-pound glop inside our skulls to the machines that are increasingly central to our existence. But the main barrier to adoption is the potentially invasive nature of a BMI: Not many people are going to want to get surgery to have a chip implanted in their brains. A New York company may have found a solution to that. It's created a BMI that works just by an armband—and it works now, not in some far-off future. At Backchannel, Steven Levy dives into CTRL-Labs' mission to transform the way we interact with computers and get us to ditch keyboards and computer mouses once and for all.

Submission + - BlueBorne Bluetooth vulnerability 'exposes almost every connected device' (betanews.com)

Mark Wilson writes: Armis Lab, the Internet of Things security firm, has revealed details of BlueBorne, a Bluetooth vulnerability that affects millions of iOS and Android smartphones, IoT devices, and Windows and Linux systems. In all, 5.3 billion devices are believed to be at risk.

The BlueBorne attack makes it possible for an attacker to spread malware or take control of nearby devices. What's particularly concerning is that for an attack to be successful, there is no need for device pairing, or even for a target device to be in discoverable mode. There's also no need for any sort of interaction by the victim — everything can happen completely silently in the background.

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