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Submission + - Open Build Service 2.4 adds Arch support (networkworld.com)

colinneagle writes: Package management on Linux is a pretty amazing thing. But building new packages (and new scripts to generate those packages) can become a major time sink. And which formats/distros do you create them for? Ubuntu 32bit .deb? Fedora 64bit RPM? After you start taking all of the various incarnations, of just the major versions of, the major distros into account... you've got a lot of work ahead of you.

Luckily, there are some ways to make this whole process a bit less painful. One of the most mature and flexible being the Open Build Service, which is part of the openSUSE project. And they have just announced version 2.4 of their package-building solution.Let's say you want to release a new version of your software. You put the files up in the Open Build Service (which is, as you might have guessed, Open Source) – or the public instance which is in place at build.opensuse.org – then you create your configuration and utilize their web interface to automatically create the packages you'd like. Now, here's the cool part: You can tell it to create packages not to use for openSUSE... but for Ubuntu, Mandriva, Fedora and plenty of others. And, as of version 2.4, it will build for Arch as well (in the form of PKGBUILD).

Submission + - Skype accounts easily hijacked via Skype Support, warns hacker (networkworld.com)

colinneagle writes: security researcher @TibitXimer complained about a horrible user experience after losing control of his Skype account six times in one day. In fact, Ximer says Skype recovery mechanisms are so inadequate that "anyone can steal your Skype account" by providing: "3-5 of your contacts on skype, 1 email you've used on skype at any point, and your first and/or last name."

Unsurprisingly, Skype Support disagrees with Ximer about how easily Skype accounts can be hijacked by social engineering the support team. "Skype CS is looking into your case. Our unlock policy does in fact require more than just the information you have quoted and we are checking where the failure happened during the required steps of verification."

Other Skype users on the forum pointed out that there are guides for sale that explain how to easily exploit Skype Support and steal accounts. Ximer said Skype Support has now suspended his account while the matter is being investigated. He added that Skype account hijacking has also "happened to many members of a forum I'm on all in the same week," before providing a screenshot of other users complaining about it. He then wrote, "This was a massive failure by Skype support. While they may ask more questions during the verification process, they did not require that all questions were answered. Majority of the time they only required those 3 steps as enough for the verification of the account owner."

Submission + - Why iTunes is dying (networkworld.com)

colinneagle writes: As the iTunes Store celebrates the 10th anniversary of a very successful run, it may have fallen too far behind competing services to survive in the next 10 years. Currently, iTunes’ share of online music sales stands at 63%, its lowest figure since 2006 and a steep drop from its peak of 69% in 2010, according to market researchers at the NPD Group. And while Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, HBO Go and all the other competitors keep signing up new customers, only rumors have emerged about an Apple streaming service, and they aren't very flattering.

Apple will reportedly use a streaming service to drive sales of songs on iTunes, and will use advertisements to help boost revenues even further. That may appease content providers, but consumers who can pay for unlimited access to Spotify's library without advertisements wouldn't even consider it.

By the time Apple does get its streaming service off the ground, customers will be too entrenched in competing services to be swayed by another that doesn't offer any advantage. As the concept of "owning" content becomes more outdated, so will iTunes.

Submission + - ValueAct's $2 billion bet on Microsoft could mean big changes in Redmond (networkworld.com)

colinneagle writes: No one is saying Steve Ballmer will be out of a job tomorrow as a result of ValueAct's $2 billion purchase of Microsoft stock, but it is interesting to hear ValueAct's CEO talk about why he bought such a large chunk of Microsoft in the first place.

ValueAct says its investment strategy involves targeting companies that are "fundamentally undervalued, and then working with management and the company’s board to implement strategies that generate superior returns on invested capital." Where ValueAct wants to go is interesting. Bloomberg quotes ValueAct CEO Jeffrey Ubben as saying "In three to five years, which is our time horizon, we’ll stop talking about PC cycles and instead talk about Microsoft as the largest cloud-computing company in the world."

CNBC pundits have speculated that ValueAct would work with Ballmer and the board behind the scenes long before anything went public, which I understand. But history tends to show that investors like this do inevitably get involved. It might be a sale (not likely) or a change in executives or strategy, but eventually, major investors like ValueAct do make their presence known and felt. And no, it's not in your best interests, it's in the best interests of their investment.

Submission + - US Senate To Vote On Internet Sales Tax Mandate Today (ap.org)

SonicSpike writes: The Senate could vote as early as Thursday on a bill to empower states to require online retailers to collect state and local sales taxes for purchases made over the Internet. Under the bill, the sales taxes would be sent to the states where a shopper lives.

On Wednesday, the bill passed a test vote in the Senate, 74 to 23, with 27 Republicans voting in favor. Senators were trying to work out agreements Thursday on potential amendments and the timing of a final vote.

Submission + - 3D-printed gun may be unveiled soon (networkworld.com)

colinneagle writes: A 3D-printed gun capable of firing multiple rounds may be unveiled soon. Cody Wilson, the 25-year-old founder and director of nonprofit organization Defense Distributed, recently told Mashable that the end product of Wiki Weapon, the initiative to create an operational 3D-printed gun, may soon be ready to unveil to the public. In a March interview with CNN, Wilson said he hoped to have a printable gun ready by the end of April, so his most recent comments suggest that he may fulfill that promise.

While Wilson was sparse with details, he did tell Mashable that the prototype would be a handgun consisting of 12 parts made out of ABS+ thermoplastic, which is known for its durability and is commonly used in industrial settings. The firing pin would be the only steel component of the 3D-printed gun, which will be able to withstand a few shots before melting or breaking. Wilson reportedly anticipates making an official announcement soon.

Submission + - Get Out of IT To Move Up in IT? (itworld.com)

itwbennett writes: Former MIT CIO Marilyn Smith recently said in an interview that to enhance your IT career, you should 'exit and then return to IT.' Her reasoning: 'Your time working outside of IT will enhance your perspective on how to best serve your internal clients and also position you to be a business partner, rather than a service provider to other business areas.' What do you think? Have you left IT and returned? Did the 'diversity of experience' help you? Or did you find it harder to get back into IT having left?

Submission + - China behind 96% of all cyber-espionage data breaches, Verizon report claims (networkworld.com)

colinneagle writes: Verizon's 2013 Data Breach Investigation Report is out and includes data gathered by its own forensics team and data breach info from 19 partner organizations worldwide. China was involved in 96% of all espionage data-breach incidents, most often targeting manufacturing, professional and transportation industries, the report claims. The assets China targeted within those industries included laptop/desktop, file server, mail server and directory server, in order to steal credentials, internal organization data, trade secrets and system info. A whopping 95% of the attacks started with phishing to get a toehold into their victim's systems. The report states that, "Phishing techniques have become much more sophisticated, often targeting specific individuals (spear phishing) and using tactics that are harder for IT to control. For example, now that people are suspicious of email, phishers are using phone calls and social networking." It is unknown who the nation-state actors were in the other 4% of breaches, which the report says "may mean that other threat groups perform their activities with greater stealth and subterfuge. But it could also mean that China is, in fact, the most active source of national and industrial espionage in the world today."

Submission + - New Job Listing Suggests Amazon is Opening a Retail Store in the UK (Maybe) (the-digital-reader.com)

Nate the greatest writes: Amazon has long been rumored to be opening a retail store, and a recently uncovered job listing suggests that the rumors might actually be coming true. The listing mentions a new retail store outside of London with job responsibilities including "technical account management for people selling on the Amazon platform" and "support for Amazon retail customers who have queries about their orders". But is it real or someone's elaborate prank?

That job was originally posted on the UK classified ads site Gumtree, but shortly afterwards the listing was deleted and the account was closed. And as explained later in the post, that listing contains far less detail the job descriptions Amazon has posted elsewhere, nor has Amazon posted any similar on listings on their website.So is this real or fake?

Submission + - Some Windows XP users just can't afford to upgrade (networkworld.com) 2

colinneagle writes: During a recent trip to an eye doctor, I noticed that she was still using Windows XP. After I suggested that she might need to upgrade soon, she said she couldn't because she couldn't afford the $10,000 fee involved with the specialty medical software that has been upgraded for Windows 7. Software written for medical professionals is not like mass market software. They have a limited market and can't make back their money in volume because there isn't the volume for an eye doctor's database product like there is for Office or Quicken.

With many expecting Microsoft's upcoming end-of-support for XP to cause a security nightmare of unsupported Windows devices in the wild, it seems a good time to ask how many users may fall into the category of wanting an upgrade, but being priced out by expensive but necessary third-party software. More importantly, can anything be done about it?

Submission + - Harvard/MIT Student Creates GPU Database, Hacker-Style

IamIanB writes: Harvard Middle Eastern Studies student Todd Mostak's first tangle with big data didn't go well; trying to process and map 40 million geolocated tweets from the Arab Spring uprising took days. So while taking a database course across town at MIT, he developed a massively parallel database that uses GeForce Titan GPUs to do the data processing. The system sees 70x performance increases over CPU-based systems, and can out crunch a 1000 node MapReduce cluster, in some cases. All for around $5,000 worth of hardware.

Mostak plans to release the system under an open source license; you can play with a data set of 125 million tweets hosted at Harvard's WorldMap and see the millisecond response time.

Submission + - Silicon Valley companies quietly try to kill Internet privacy bill (mercurynews.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Silicon Valley tech firms, banks and other powerful industries are mounting a quiet but forceful campaign to kill an Internet privacy bill that would give California consumers the right to know how their personal information is being used.
A recent letter signed by 15 companies and trade groups — including TechAmerica, which represents Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other technology companies — demanded that the measure's author, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, drop her bill. They complain it would open up businesses to an avalanche of requests from individuals as well as costly lawsuits.

Submission + - After weak performance on PC, Sim City is coming to Mac (networkworld.com)

colinneagle writes: EA announced today that the latest iteration of SimCity will be coming to the Mac on June 11. Available exclusively as a digital download, folks who already purchased the game for their PC will be able to get a Mac version for free via EA's Origin online store. Note, though, that the game isn't merely a simple port of the PC version.

"We didn't want to make any compromises when it came to the Mac so we created a native version that is optimized for the hardware and OSX," EA Senior VP and General Manager Lucy Bradshaw explained.

The PC version of the game currently has a 1.5-star rating on Amazon based on nearly 2,500 reviews. You might remember the chaos that ensued following the release of the PC version game as a result of the game's always-on DRM scheme. In order to play the game, users had to constantly be connected to EA's servers. EA's servers, however, couldn't handle the load and the result was frustratingly sluggish gameplay, with many users also reporting that hours worth of changes made during gaming sessions were going unsaved. EA subsequently promised to increase the number and stability of their servers. Server capacity in particular increased by 400%. And while the company refused to issue refunds to disgruntled consumers, they did offer SimCity owners the ability to download a free EA title from their online store.

Submission + - PETA plans to spy on hunters with drones (networkworld.com)

colinneagle writes: Animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) recently announced its intention to use "remote-controlled aircraft to collect and publicize footage of hunters shooting animals and allowing them to escape, only to die slowly and in agony, among other common violations." The group contacted drone manufacturer Aerobot, and told Fast Company that PETA plans to buy "several Aerobot Cinestar Octocopters--eight-rotor octocopters designed for use by the film industry and landscape architects. The Cinestar is designed to carry heavy cameras and has a 20 minute flight time when carrying smaller cameras; it is also intended for use by a two-person crew. Aerobot, which is based in Australia, markets to an international customer base not constrained by the FAA's rules."

PETA is not the first animal rights groups to attempt to use drone surveillance to hunt hunters. In Australia, the Animal Liberation group was the first "to deploy surveillance drones to hunt for evidence of animal abuse on private property." Last year in South Carolina, an animal rights group used a drone in order to monitor pigeon hunters. The hunters shot down the drone.

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