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Comment A lot of people having this same thought ... (Score 2, Interesting) 263

The phrase:

"the information technologies that are the mainstay of modern society can become its weapons, as well"

is very similar to what is being said in the "Free Speech or Stone Age" meme that has sprung up:

"Once again, the standardization and interoperability of these protocols
that so readily enables anonymous free speech are the same qualities that
make them so valuable to commerce. You cannot restrict access to this
functionality and continue to take part in modern commerce."

http://blog.kozubik.com/john_kozubik/2009/06/free-speech-or-stone-age.html

(I recommend the entire article that is linked from the blog synopsis...)

Math

Statistical Suspicions In Iran's Election 512

hoytak writes "An expert in electoral fraud, professor Walter Melbane, has released a detailed analysis (PDF) of available data in Iran's controversial election (summary here). While he did not find significant indications of fraud, he does note that all the deviations from the predicted model are in Ahmadinejad's favor: 'In general, combining the 2005 and 2009 data conveys the impression that a substantial core of the 2009 results reflected natural political process... [These] stand in contrast to the unusual pattern in which all of the notable discrepancies between the support Ahmadinejad actually received and the support the model predicts are always negative. This pattern needs to be explained before one can have confidence that natural election processes were not supplemented with artificial manipulations.'" In related news, EsonLinji notes reports in the Seattle PI and other sources that the US State Department has asked Twitter to delay system maintenance to prevent cutting off Iranians who have been relying on the service during the post-election crisis. And if you would like to help ease the communication crunch, reader RCulpepper tips a blog post detailing how to set up a proxy server for users with Iranian IP addresses.
Censorship

A Black Day For Internet Freedom In Germany 420

Several readers including erlehmann and tmk wrote to inform us about the dawning of Internet censorship in Germany under the usual guise of protecting the children. "This week, the two big political parties ruling Germany in a coalition held the final talks on their proposed Internet censorship scheme. DNS queries for sites on a list will be given fake answers that lead to a page with a stop sign. The list itself is maintained by the German federal police (Bundeskriminalamt). A protest movement has formed over the course of the last several months, and over 130K citizens have signed a petition protesting the law. Despite this, and despite criticism from all sides, the two parties sped up the process for the law to be signed on Thursday, June 18, 2009."
Censorship

Iran Moves To End "Facebook Revolution" 838

We've had a few readers send in updates on the chaotic post-election situation in Iran. Twitter is providing better coverage than CNN at the moment. There are both tech and humanitarian angles to the story, as the two samples below illustrate. First, Hugh Pickens writes with a report from The Times (UK) that "the Iranian government is mounting a campaign to disrupt independent media organizations and Web sites that air doubts about the validity of the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the nation's president. Reports from Tehran say that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter were taken down after Mr Ahmadinejad claimed victory. SMS text messaging, a preferred medium of communication for young Iranians, has also been disabled. 'The blocking of access to foreign news media has been stepped up, according to Reporters Without Borders. 'The Internet is now very slow, like the mobile phone network. YouTube and Facebook are hard to access and pro-reform sites... are completely inaccessible.'" And reader momen abdullah sends in one of the more disturbing Ask Slashdots you are likely to see. "People, we need your urgent help in Iran. We are under attack by the government. They stole the election. And now are arresting everybody. They also filtered every sensitive Web page. But our problem is that they also block the SMS network and are scrambling satellite TVs. Please, can you help us to set up some sort of network using our home wireless access points? Can anybody show us a link on how to install small TV/radio stations? Any suggestion for setting up a network? Please tell us what to do or we are going to die in the a nuclear war between Iran and US." Update: 06/14 18:32 GMT by KD : Jim Cowie contributes a blog post from Renesys taking a closer look at the state of Iranian Internet transit, as seen in the aggregated global routing tables, and concluding that the story may not be as clear-cut as has been reported.
Media

The Perils of DRM — When Content Providers Die 275

An anonymous reader writes "If you purchase music or movies online, what happens if the vendor goes out of business? Will you have trouble accessing your content? The question came up recently after HDGiants — provider of high-quality audio and video downloads — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. A consumer says his content became locked inside his PC. Walmart customers suffered a similar fate last year when the retailer shut down its DRM servers (a decision they reversed after many complaints). And if Vudu dies? Your content may be locked in a proprietary box forever. Time to start buying discs again?"
Privacy

UK Police Want Plug-In Computer Crime Detectors 382

An anonymous reader writes "UK police are talking to private companies about using plug-in USB devices that can scour the hard drive of any device they are attached to, searching for evidence of illegal activity. The UK's Association of Chief Police Officers is considering using commercial devices that can perform targeted searches of text, pictures and computer code on hard drives, allowing untrained cops to detect anything from correspondence on stolen goods to child pornography. Police in the UK are desperate for a way of slashing the backlog of machines seized by the police in raids, with many forces having a backlog that will take a year to process." Maybe they shouldn't seize so many computers.
Censorship

20 Years After Tiananmen, China Stifles Online Dissent 235

alphadogg writes with this snippet from Network World: "The Internet has brought new hope to reformists in China since the country crushed pro-democracy protests in the capital 20 years ago. But as dissidents have gone high-tech, the government in turn has worked to restrict free speech on the Internet, stifling threats to its rule that could grow online. China has stepped up monitoring of dissidents and Internet censorship ahead of June 4, when hundreds were killed in 1989 after Beijing sent soldiers to its central Tiananmen Square to disperse protestors. The authoritarian government wants to ensure that date and other sensitive anniversaries this year pass without public disturbances, observers say. In recent months, China has blocked YouTube and closed two blog hosting sites, bullog.cn and fatianxia.com, known for their liberal content."
Censorship

Australian Government Backing Down On Censorship 116

Combat Wombat sends the news that the government in Australia has begun waffling on whether country-wide Internet censorship will be mandatory. "The Rudd Government has indicated that it may back away from its mandatory Internet filtering plan. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy today told a Senate estimates committee that the filtering scheme could be implemented by a voluntary industry code. ... [The shadow communications minister] said he had never heard of a voluntary mandatory system. ... Senator Conroy's statement is a departure from the internet filtering policy Labor took into the October 2007 election to make it mandatory for ISPs to block offensive and illegal content." The censorship plan, which has been called "worse than Iran," was bypassed even before trials started. A minister's defection may have effectively blocked any chance of implementation.
Communications

Microsoft Blocks Messenger In Five Embargoed Countries 194

Spooky McSpookster writes "Microsoft has turned off its Windows Live Messenger service for five countries: Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan, and North Korea. Users in these countries trying to log in get the following error: '810003c1: We were unable to sign you in to the .NET Messenger Service.' Why now, since this flies in the face of the Obama administration's softening stance on Cuba? This isn't the first time the US trade embargo has had questionable outcomes. US-based Syrian political activist George Ajjan created a web site promoting democracy in Syria, only to find GoDaddy blocked anyone inside Syria from seeing it. The article argues, 'Messenger is a medium for communication, and the citizens of these countries should not be punished from such a basic tool because the US has problems with their governments' policies.' What does this say for the wisdom of non-US citizens relying on US companies for their business or communication?"
It's funny.  Laugh.

Finding a Personal Coding Trifecta 188

jammag writes "For Seinfeld's George Constanza, his dream of the ideal moment was having sex while watching TV and eating a pastrami sandwich. He called this Nirvana state 'The Trifecta.' Developer Eric Spiegel adapts this concept of Nirvana to the act of writing your best possible code. He examines all (or most) of the possible things that might contribute to the 'The Trifecta' for developers — food, beverages, time of day. Spiegel also describes his personal Trifecta."
Government

Hosting a Highly Inflammatory Document? 471

IndianaKim writes "I have been asked if I can host or assist in hosting a highly inflammatory document that reflects poorly on a Police Department. I want to help, but I also do not want the headache and possible subjection to search warrants and/or illegal searches. The document is so inflammatory that it could interest the FBI and DoJ and cause them to investigate the government officials involved. I live in the same county, but not the same city, and therefore could be subject to a search (legal or not) by some of these government agencies. I have been asked to host it on a server outside of the US. At this time, I do not have the ability to do that, but I could set it up if I needed to. My question is: would you host it if you were asked? How would you go about protecting the document and yourself?"
Cellphones

Mobile Wi-Fi Hot Spot 202

bsharma writes to let us know about a little goodie that we will be able to buy starting May 17: a battery-powered, rechargeable, cellular, Wi-Fi hot spot that you can put in your pocket. "What if you had a personal Wi-Fi bubble, a private hot spot, that followed you everywhere you go? Incredibly, there is such a thing. It's the Novatel MiFi 2200, available from Verizon starting in mid-May ($100 with two-year contract, after rebate). It's a little wisp of a thing, like a triple-thick credit card. It has one power button, one status light and a swappable battery that looks like the one in a cellphone. When you turn on your MiFi and wait 30 seconds, it provides a personal, portable, powerful, password-protected wireless hot spot. ... If you just want to do e-mail and the Web, you pay $40 a month for the service (250 megabytes of data transfer, 10 cents a megabyte above that). If you watch videos and shuttle a lot of big files, opt for the $60 plan (5 gigabytes). And if you don't travel incessantly, the best deal may be the one-day pass: $15 for 24 hours, only when you need it. In that case, the MiFi itself costs $270." The device has its Wi-Fi password printed on the bottom, so you can invite someone to join your network simply by showing it to them.
Image

German Gov To Ban Paintballing After Shooting Screenshot-sm 580

whoever57 writes "In response to the school shooting in March in which 16 people were killed, the German Government plans to ban all games in which players shoot at each other with pellets. The rationale for this is that 'paintball trivializes violence and risks lowering the threshold for committing violent acts.' Fines could be up to 5,000 euros."
Movies

Ray Kurzweil's Vision of the Singularity, In Movie Form 366

destinyland writes "AI researcher Ben Goertzel peeks at the new Ray Kurzweil movie (Transcendent Man), and gives it 'two nano-enhanced cyberthumbs way, way up!' But in an exchange with Kurzweil after the screening, Goertzel debates the post-human future, asking whether individuality can survive in a machine-augmented brain. The documentary covers radical futurism, but also includes alternate viewpoints. 'Would I build these machines, if I knew there was a strong chance they would destroy humanity?' asks evolvable hardware researcher Hugo de Garis. His answer? 'Yeah.'" Note, the movie is about Kurzweil and futurism, not by Kurzweil. Update: 05/06 20:57 GMT by T : Note, Singularity Hub has a review up, too.
The Internet

Proposed Peer-To-Peer Law Sparks Animosity 168

coondoggie writes "The Federal Trade Commission and Distributed Computing Industry Association locked horns over a proposed law that would govern how peer-to-peer networking technology would be used and regulated. Before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection, the Federal Trade Commission expressed its doubts about companies protecting sensitive consumer information (PDF) or sensitive data over P2P internet file-sharing networks. It doesn't help the P2P cause that the technology continues to pop up in bad practices. Recently a company that monitors peer-to-peer networks said it found classified information about the systems used onboard the president's helicopter in a shared folder on a computer in Iran, after a file containing the data was accidentally leaked on a peer-to-peer network last summer. Meanwhile the DCIA said any laws would likely be ineffective and stifle the business opportunities P2P can generate." An article on CNet points out that the wording of the bill would make it apply to just about everything related to communications on the internet.

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