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Networking

Ethernet Consortia Wants To Unlock a More Time-Sensitive Network (networkworld.com) 110

Does Ethernet need new features like "stream reservation" and time synchronization to make sure time-sensitive data isn't delayed on the network? coondoggie quotes Network World: The demand from Internet of Things, automotive networking and video applications are driving changes to Ethernet technology that will make it more time-sensitive. Key to those changes are a number of developing standards but also a push this week from the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory to set up three new industry specific Ethernet Time-Sensitive Networking consortiums -- Automotive Networking, Industrial Networking, and ProAV Networking aimed at developing deterministic performance within standard Ethernet for real-time, mission critical applications. "Standards-based precise time, guaranteed bandwidth, and guaranteed worst-case latency in a converged Ethernet network is a game-changer to many industries," said Bob Noseworthy, Chief Engineer, UNH-IOL.
The article also acknowledges the work of the Avnu Alliance, which is also trying to build an ecosystem of "low-latency, time-synchronized, highly reliable synchronized networked devices using open standards through certification."
AI

Is Microsoft Mainstreaming Machine Learning? (networkworld.com) 51

Tuesday Microsoft updated their open source Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit (CNTK), adding support for both C++ and Python. "This announcement is more than a point release..." argues Network World. "It's the recognition of AI and machine learning as the next big platform after mobile." This announcement represents a shift in Microsoft's customer focus from research to implementation... The toolkit is a supervised machine learning system in the same category of other open-source projects such as Tensorflow, Caffe and Torch. Microsoft is one of the leading investors in and contributors to the open machine learning software and research community. A glance at the Neural Information Processing Systems conference reveals that there are just four major technology companies committed to moving the field of neural networks forward: Microsoft, Google, Facebook and IBM.
A Microsoft engineer described CNTK as "democratizing AI," according to Microsoft's announcement, which also notes that their toolkit "has been optimized to best take advantage of the NVIDIA hardware and Azure networking capabilities that are part of the Azure offering."
IOS

Apple's New MacBook Pro Requires a $25 Dongle To Charge Your iOS Device (networkworld.com) 347

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Network World: As Phil Schiller explained during today's event, Apple's new MacBook Pros feature four Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C ports, and conveniently, each of these can be used to charge the machine. Now, USB-C is incredibly versatile, and Apple will use the advanced port for power charging, HDMI and much more. However, with USB-C the only game in town, you might reasonably be wondering: How in the world do I connect my iPhone to my sleek new MacBook Pro? The frustrating answer is that you won't be able to do so out of the box. Instead, you'll have to buy a dongle. This is especially frustrating because many people use their notebooks for a) charging purposes when an outlet isn't necessarily handy and b) for transferring photos and other data. Now, you might reasonably state that you can just rely upon the cloud for items like data transfer, but there's no getting around the fact that Apple's efforts in the cloud still leave much to be desired. How much will it cost to connect your iPhone to your brand new MacBook Pro? Well, Apple sells a USB-C to Lightning cable on its website for $25. While this is undoubtedly frustrating, we can't say that it's entirely unexpected given Apple gave us a preview of its preference for USB-C when it released its 12-in. MacBook last year. Still, it's a funky design choice for a decidedly Pro-oriented device where the last thing a prospective consumer would want to do is spend some extra cash for a dongle after spending upwards of $2,399. Lastly, while we're on the topic of ports, it's worth noting that the new MacBook Pros also do away with the beloved MagSafe connector.
Government

President Obama Orders Government To Plan For 'Space Weather' (nbcnews.com) 169

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Network World: President Barack Obama today issued an Executive Order that defines what the nation's response should be to a catastrophic space weather event that takes out large portions of the electrical power grid, resulting in cascading failures that would affect key services such as water supply, healthcare, and transportation. The Executive Order ideally will coordinate the responses across government agencies such as NASA, the Departments of Homeland Security, Energy and others to help minimize economic loss and save lives by enhancing national security, identifying successful mitigation technologies, and ordering the creation of nationwide response and recovery plans and procedures, the White House stated. Further, the Executive Order will enhance the scientific and technical capabilities of the United States, including improved prediction of space-weather events and their effects on infrastructure systems and services. By this action, the Federal Government will lead by example and help motivate State and local governments, and other nations, to create communities that are more resilient to the hazards of space weather. The Executive Order reinforces the formal National Space Weather Strategy and accompanying Action Plan which were announced last year. It also bolsters other work such as the replacement of aging satellites that monitor and help forecast space weather, proposing space-weather standards for both the national and international air space, development of regulations to ensure the continued operation of the electric grid during an extreme space weather event, proposing a new option for replacing crucial Extra High Voltage (EHV) transformers damaged by space weather, and developing domestic production sources for EHV transformers, the White House wrote.
Network

IEEE Sets New Ethernet Standard That Brings 5X the Speed Without Cable Ripping (networkworld.com) 157

Reader coondoggie writes: As expected the IEEE has ratified a new Ethernet specification -- IEEE P802.3bz -- that defines 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T, boosting the current top speed of traditional Ethernet five-times without requiring the tearing out of current cabling. The Ethernet Alliance wrote that the IEEE 802.3bz Standard for Ethernet Amendment sets Media Access Control Parameters, Physical Layers and Management Parameters for 2.5G and 5Gbps Operation lets access layer bandwidth evolve incrementally beyond 1Gbps, it will help address emerging needs in a variety of settings and applications, including enterprise, wireless networks. Indeed, the wireless component may be the most significant implication of the standard as 2.5G and 5G Ethernet will allow connectivity to 802.11ac Wave 2 Access Points, considered by many to be the real driving force behind bringing up the speed of traditional NBase-T products.
Space

Cisco Blamed A Router Bug On 'Cosmic Radiation' (networkworld.com) 145

Network World's news editor contacted Slashdot with this report: A Cisco bug report addressing "partial data traffic loss" on the company's ASR 9000 Series routers contended that a "possible trigger is cosmic radiation causing SEU [single-event upset] soft errors." Not everyone is buying: "It IS possible for bits to be flipped in memory by stray background radiation. However it's mostly impossible to detect the reason as to WHERE or WHEN this happens," writes a Redditor identifying himself as a former [technical assistance center] engineer...
"While we can't speak to this particular case," Cisco wrote in a follow-up, "Cisco has conducted extensive research, dating back to 2001, on the effects cosmic radiation can have on our service provider networking hardware, system architectures and software designs. Despite being rare, as electronics operate at faster speeds and the density of silicon chips increases, it becomes more likely that a stray bit of energy could cause problems that affect the performance of a router or switch."

Friday a commenter claiming to be Xander Thuijs, Cisco's principal engineer on the ASR 9000 router, posted below the article, "apologies for the detail provided and the 'concept' of cosmic radiation. This is not the type of explanation I would like to see presented to the respected users of our products. We have made some updates to the DDTS [defect-tracking report] in question with a more substantial data and explanation. The issue is something that we can likely address with an FPD update on the 2x100 or 1x100G Typhoon-based linecard."
Botnet

Spam Hits Its Highest Level Since 2010 (networkworld.com) 47

Long-time Slashdot reader coondoggie quotes Network World: Spam is back in a big way -- levels that have not been seen since 2010 in fact. That's according to a blog post from Cisco Talos that stated the main culprit of the increase is largely the handiwork of the Necurs botnet... "Many of the host IPs sending Necurs' spam have been infected for more than two years.

"To help keep the full scope of the botnet hidden, Necurs will only send spam from a subset of its minions... This greatly complicates the job of security personnel who respond to spam attacks, because while they may believe the offending host was subsequently found and cleaned up, the reality is that the miscreants behind Necurs are just biding their time, and suddenly the spam starts all over again."

Before this year, the SpamCop Block List was under 200,000 IP addresses, but surged to over 450,000 addresses by the end of August. Interestingly, Proofpoint reported that between June and July, Donald Trump's name appeared in 169 times more spam emails than Hillary Clinton's.
Books

Slashdot Asks: What Are Your Favorite Technology Books and Novels? 175

It can be a nonfiction book, or a fictional narrative where technology plays a key role. I recently started to read 'The Rise of the Robots' by Martin Ford. It talks about how robots are threatening mass unemployment more than they ever did before. I also found Andrew Blum's 'Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet' quite insightful. I would like to read 'The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers'.

What are some of your favorite tech-centric books? And which book are you currently reading, or recently finished?
Wireless Networking

Why Sys-Admins Are Disabling The Lights on WiFi Access Points (networkworld.com) 294

More than a dozen IT professionals said they've disabled the LEDs on wireless access points, according to a Network World article shared by Slashdot reader alphadogg: Some users don't want a beacon shining in their eyes as they try to get to sleep and others worry about the health effects of a blue light glowing all night. Some even resort to unplugging the gear when they're not using it.... "It seems when you are sick and laying in a hospital bed and have trouble sleeping, the single LED shining in your eyes is an issue," [says the wireless network staff specialist for Penn State College of Medicine]. "I get it and understand it..."

Network pros say they have begun asking vendors such as Cisco if they can provide an easier way to dim, rather than turn off the lights on the access points entirely, via wireless controllers. And some would like to see more granular control, such that the power light could be left on to comfort end users that the device is working, but blinking lights could be turned off or dimmed to avoid bothering them.

End users have tried "all sorts of makeshift fixes -- from Post-it notes to bandages to condom wrappers," but one network architect complains that when they disable the LEDs altogether, "I invariably get a ticket (or more) that the access point is offline and wireless is broken because there are no lights on..." On the plus side, when they then re-enable the LED lghts, "magically the wireless performance and coverage is perfect!"
Earth

World Map Shows Countries Requiring Open Source Software (networkworld.com) 32

"Europe and South America are the biggest hotspots for open-source use in government," reports Network World, while Bulgaria requires all software written for the government to be FOSS. Slashdot reader alphadogg quotes their report: It's become increasingly common over the past decade or so to see laws being passed to either mandate the use of open-source software or, at the very least, encourage people in government who make procurement decisions to do so. Here's a map of the status of open-source laws around the world.
Printer

3D-Printed Aircraft Tool Sets Guinness World Record (networkworld.com) 50

coondoggie quotes a report from Network World: A 17.5 foot long, 5.5 foot wide and 1.5 foot tall the 3D printed aircraft design tool has earned the title of largest solid 3D printed item by Guinness World Records. The 1,650 lb. apparatus known as a trim-and-drill tool is comparable in length to a large sport utility vehicle and will ultimately be tested for use in building the Boeing 777X passenger jet. Basically the tool will be used to secure the jet's composite wing skin for drilling and machining before assembly, according to researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ONRL) who developed the tool. "The existing, more expensive metallic tooling option we currently use comes from a supplier and typically takes three months to manufacture using conventional techniques," said Leo Christodoulou, Boeing's director of structures and materials in a statement. "Additively manufactured tools, such as the 777X wing trim tool, will save energy, time, labor and production cost and are part of our overall strategy to apply 3D printing technology in key production areas."
Crime

Want To Hunt Bank Robbers? There's an App For That, Says The FBI (networkworld.com) 68

Long-time Slashdot reader coondoggie quotes an article from Network World: The FBI today said it released a new application making it easier for the public -- as well as financial institutions, law enforcement agencies, and others -- to view photos and information about bank robberies in different geographic areas of the country.
The FBI's new "Bank Robbers" application runs on both Android and iOS, according to the article, "and lets users sort bank robberies by the date they occurred, the category they fall under (i.e., armed serial bank robber), the FBI field office working the case, or the state where the robbery occurred." The app ties into BankRobbers.fbi.gov, which overlays FBI information about bank robberies onto Google Maps.

The app's users "can also select push notifications to be informed when a bank robbery has taken place near their location," according to the FBI's site, which adds innocently that "If the location services on your device are enabled, you can view a map that shows the relevant bank robberies that took place in your geographic area..."
Electronic Frontier Foundation

'Mayhem' Wins $2M In DARPA's AI Hacking Contest, Draws EFF Scrutiny (eff.org) 11

Here's the highlight reel from the DARPA-sponsored "Cyber Grand Challenge" competition. Slashdot reader alphadogg writes: Cyber-reasoning platform Mayhem pulled down the $2 million first prize in a competition...that pitted entrants against each other in the classic hacking game Capture the Flag, never before played by programs running on supercomputers. A team from Carnegie Mellon University spin-out All Secure entered Mayhem in the competition against six other programs played in front of thousands in the ballroom of the Paris hotel in Las Vegas. Most of the spectators were in town for the DEF CON hacker conference starting Friday at the same site.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote "We think that this initiative by DARPA is very cool, very innovative, and could have been a little dangerous." Sharing their blog post about automated security research, the EFF's staff technologist Peter Eckersley writes: EFF is asking, does research like that need a safety protocol?
Moon

Moon Express Gets FAA Approval For Lunar Mission In 2017 (networkworld.com) 55

coondoggie quotes a report from Network World: The Federal Aviation Administration this week granted permission to a privately-held space firm to launch a robotic spacecraft to the moon. Moon Express expects to launch its MX-1 spacecraft on a two-week mission to the lunar surface in 2017. The MX-1, which is about as large as a suitcase will include instruments and a camera to explore the moon's surface. Moon Express has a contract with Rocket Lab USA for 3 lunar missions between 2017 and 2020. They are the first private company to receive permission to go to the moon. "Moon Express applauds efforts underway by the U.S. Congress and Executive Branch to establish a permanent regulatory framework to authorize commercial activities beyond Earth orbit," said Moon Express cofounder and CEO Bob Richards. "Our 'Mission Approval' process is an interim arrangement that can be implemented quickly enough for our 2017 launch requirements, allowing us to continue to execute on our business plans under U.S. law while ensuring our activities are consistent with U.S. obligations under the Outer Space Treaty."
Programming

C Isn't The Most Popular Programming Language, JavaScript Is (networkworld.com) 241

An anonymous reader quotes Network World: U.K.-based technology analyst firm RedMonk just released the latest version of its biannual rankings of programming languages, and once again JavaScript tops the list, followed by Java and PHP. Those are same three languages that topped RedMonk's list in January. In fact, the entire top 10 remains the same as it was it was six months ago...
Python ranked #4 on RedMonk's list, while the survey found a three-way tie for fifth place between Ruby, C#, and C++, with C coming in at #9 (ranking just below CSS). Network World argues that while change comes slowly, "if you go back deeper into RedMonk's rankings, you can see slow, ongoing ascents from languages such as Go, Swift and even TypeScript."

Interestingly, an earlier ranking by the IEEE declared C to be the top programming language of 2016, followed by Java, Python, C++, and R. But RedMonk's methodology involves studying the prevalence of each language on both Stack Overflow and GitHub, a correlation which "we believe to be predictive of future use, hence their value."
Crime

Cisco Finds $34 Million Ransomware Industry (networkworld.com) 18

Ransomware is "generating huge profits," says Cisco. Slashdot reader coondoggie shares this report from Network World: Enterprise-targeting cyber enemies are deploying vast amounts of potent ransomware to generate revenue and huge profits -- nearly $34 million annually, according to Cisco's Mid-Year Cybersecurity Report out this week. Ransomware, Cisco wrote, has become a particularly effective moneymaker, and enterprise users appear to be the preferred target.
Many of the victims were slow to patch their systems, according to the article. One study of Cisco devices running on fundamental infrastructure discovered that 23% had vulnerabilities dating back to 2011, and 16% even had vulnerabilities dating back to 2009. Popular attack vectors included vulnerabilities in JBoss and Adobe Flash, which was responsible for 80% of the successful attacks for one exploit kit. The article also reports that attackers are now hiding their activities better using HTTPS and TLS, with some even using a variant of Tor.
Cloud

Office 365 Gets New Word, PowerPoint and Outlook Features (networkworld.com) 99

New submitter Miche67 writes: As part of the July 2016 update to Office 365, Microsoft is adding several features across the board to Word, PowerPoint and Outlook. Word, however, is getting the biggest new features -- Researcher and Editor -- to improve your writing. "As its name implies, Researcher is designed to help the user find reliable sources of information by using the Bing Knowledge Graph to search for sources, and it will properly cite them in the Word document," reports Network World. "[Editor] builds on the already-existing spellchecker and thesaurus to offer suggestions on how to improve your overall writing. In addition to the wavy red line under a misspelled word and the wavy blue line under bad grammar, there will be a gold line for writing style." The new features are expected to be available later this year. In addition to the two new features added to PowerPoint last year -- Designer and Morph, Microsoft is offering Zoom, a feature that lets you easily create "interactive, non-linear presentations." "Instead of the 1-2-3-4 linear method of presenting slides, forcing you to place them all in the order you wish to display, presenters will be able to show their slides in any order they want at any time," reports Network World. "This way you can change your presentation order as needed without having to stop PowerPoint or interrupt the display." As for Outlook, Focused Inbox is coming to Office 365. Focused Inbox separates your inbox into two tabs. The "Focused" tab is where all of your high-priority emails will be found, while everything else will be in the "Other" tab. Outlook will learn from your behavior over time and sort your mail accordingly. In addition, @mentions are coming to Outlook 365 and Outlook for PC and Mac, "making it easy to identify emails that need your attention, as well as flag actions for others."
Businesses

Can Tech Workers Skip The Olympics As Easily As Athletes? (networkworld.com) 93

netbuzz writes: [Network World reports:] "Golfer Jordan Spieth announced this morning that he will not play in the Olympics, citing Zika, meaning the world's top four players in his sport have now opted out of going to Brazil. They're self-employed and answer to no one. But what of the rank-and-file employees who work for major technology companies sending large contingents to Brazil? Are they being asked -- or compelled -- to ignore the risks? Conversely, could women of child-bearing age be denied the opportunity to go at an employer's discretion?" Major vendors like Cisco and GE say they're not making anyone go, though at least one expert says that doing so wouldn't necessarily be a violation of employment law. When asked if anyone declined to go, a Cisco spokesperson said via email: "We're not in a position to confirm whether employees have opted out (that is between them and their manager), but we provide for that option." GE provided a similar response, saying, "No GE employees have opted out of going, but GE employees are free to opt out at any time." Patricia Pryor, an attorney at Jackson Lewis P.C. in Cincinnati who has addressed these issues in a piece for The National Law Review earlier this year, was asked by Network World as well. She says: "Employers are wise to be flexible with travel requirements to Zika-infested areas when they can and when doing so is reasonable. However, there are some jobs where the purpose of the job/or the essential functions of the job require travel to these areas. If it is not reasonable or possible to delay travel to the area, an employer generally can require employees to travel."
The Military

Stuxnet/Cyberwar Documentary Reviewer: 'The U.S. Has Pwned Iran' (networkworld.com) 138

Slashdot reader alphadogg quotes an article from Network World: The new documentary about Stuxnet, "Zero Days", says the U.S. had a far larger cyber operation against Iran called Nitro Zeus that has compromised the country's infrastructure and could be used as a weapon in any future war. Quoting unnamed sources from inside the NSA and CIA, the movie says the Nitro Zeus program has infiltrated the systems controlling communications, power grids, transportation and financial systems, and is still ready to "disrupt, degrade and destroy" that infrastructure if a war should break out with Iran...

For the more technically inclined, the film contains some riveting interviews with researchers at Symantec who devoted their lives to unraveling the code line by line to figure out what it did, how it did it, who created it and what the target was. It was also a bit chilling in that after they figured out that governments were behind the worm they worried that the researchers themselves might be targeted to keep them silent. One Friday night, says Symantec researcher Eric Chien, he said to his research partner Liam O Murchu, "I'm not suicidal. If I should show up dead on Monday, it wasn't me."

In the film former NSA and CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden says "This stuff is hideously over classified."
Chrome

Do We Need A Better Private Browsing Mode? (networkworld.com) 126

Network World's Alan Zeichi recently argued "We need a better Private Browsing mode." Slashdot reader Miche67 writes: As this writer says, Chrome's Incognito Mode "doesn't offer strong protection at all." [Incognito mode "only prevents Chrome from saving your site visit activity. It won't stop other sources from seeing your browsing activity."] And Firefox's Private Browsing with Tracking Protection -- while stronger than Chrome -- is an all-or-nothing option. "You can't turn it off for sites you trust, but have it otherwise enabled by default."
The submission ends, "Every single link to non-trusted websites should open, by default, in a Private/Incognito window. C'mon, browser makers, get this done." This raises two questions. How do Slashdot's readers browse? And do you think we need a better private mode for web browsing?

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