Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



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Networking

The Standards Wars and the Sausage Factory 234

Esther Schindler writes "We all know how important tech standards are. But the making of them is sometimes a particularly ugly process. Years, millions of dollars, and endless arguments are spent arguing about standards. The reason for our fights aren't any different from those that drove Edison and Westinghouse: It's all about who benefits – and profits – from a standard. As just one example, Steven Vaughan-Nichols details the steps it took to approve a networking standard that everyone, everyone knew was needed: 'Take, for example, the long hard road for the now-universal IEEE 802.11n Wi-Fi standard. There was nothing new about the multiple-in, multiple-out (MIMO) and channel-bonding techniques when companies start moving from 802.11g to 802.11n in 2003. Yet it wasn't until 2009 that the standard became official.'"
Space

New Type of Star Can Emerge From Inside Black Holes, Say Cosmologists 193

KentuckyFC writes "Black holes form when a large star runs out of fuel and collapses under its own weight. Since there is no known force that can stop this collapse, astrophysicists have always assumed that it forms a singularity, a region of space that is infinitely dense. Now cosmologists think quantum gravity might prevent this complete collapse after all. They say that the same force that stops an electron spiraling into a nucleus might also cause the collapsing star to 'bounce' at scales of around 10^-14cm. They're calling this new state a 'Planck star' and say its lifetime would match that of the black hole itself as it evaporates. That raises the possibility that the shrinking event horizon would eventually meet the expanding Planck star, which emerges with a sudden blast of gamma rays. That radiation would allow any information trapped in the black hole to escape, solving the infamous information paradox. If they're right, these gamma rays may already have been detected by space-based telescopes meaning that the evidence is already there for any enterprising astronomer to tease apart."
Bitcoin

The Bitcoin Death Star: KnC Plans 10 Megawatt Data Center In Sweden 250

1sockchuck writes "Bitcoin hardware vendor KnC Miner has begun construction on a a 10 megawatt data center in Sweden that it will fill with high-powered computers mining for cryptocurrency. KnC has emerged as a leading vendor in the volatile market for ASIC mining rigs, focusing on underpromising and overdelivering. One goal of its move into cloud mining is to cushion any fallout from delivery delays on new hardware, which have been a sore point for miners in the fast-moving Bitcoin market. "Over the next few months we are bringing online enough hashing power to make sure that any delay in the Neptune timeline will be compensated with a completely free hosted hashing packages to all fully paid customers," KnC says in its newsletter."
Canada

Skinny Puppy Wants Compensation For Music Used in US Interrogations 271

First time accepted submitter time_lords_almanac writes "A Canadian band has sent an invoice to the U.S. Department of Defense after learning that its music was used without permission in 'interrogations' of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The members of Skinny Puppy, who specialize in electronic music, were originally going to make the invoice the cover of their next album until they discovered they could bring legal action against the department. They were also none to happy to learn the purpose their music was being employed for, let alone illegally. The amount of compensation requested? $666,000, of course."
Government

Got Malware? The FBI Wants It 93

wiredmikey writes "The FBI has placed malware on its shopping list, and is turning to third parties to help the agency build a massive library of malicious software. According to a 'Request for a Quote' posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website, the FBI is looking for price quotes for malware for the Investigative Analysis Unit of the agency's Operational Technology Division (OTD). The unit's mission is to 'Provide technical analysis of digital methods, software and data, and provide technical support to FBI investigations and intelligence operations that involve computers, networks and malicious software,' according to the document. The FBI did not say precisely how the malware will be used, but the document calls the collection of malware from law enforcement and research sources "critical to the success of the IAU's mission to obtain global awareness of malware threat.""
Government

How Edward Snowden's Actions Have Impacted Defense Contractors 180

An anonymous reader writes "A new study sheds light on the attitudes of a very exclusive group of IT and security managers — those employed by U.S. defense contractors — at a time when national cybersecurity is under scrutiny. Most indicated that the Edward Snowden incident has changed their companies' cybersecurity practices: their employees now receive more cybersecurity awareness training, some have re-evaluated employee data access privileges, others have implemented stricter hiring practices. While defense contractors seem to have better security practices in place and are more transparent than many companies in the private sector, they are finding the current cyber threat onslaught just as difficult to deal with."
Sony

Sony Selling Off VAIO Computer Business 204

Kensai7 writes "Confirming reports from earlier in the week, Sony has announced plans to sell off its VAIO computer division to a Japanese investment fund. Japan Industrial Partners (JIP) will take control of the operation for an undisclosed fee, and Sony will 'cease planning, design and development of PC products.' For a variety of reasons 'including the drastic changes in the global PC industry,' Sony says 'the optimal solution is to concentrate its mobile product lineup on smartphones and tablets and to transfer its PC business to a new company.'" I have some nostalgia for the tiny old VAIO laptops; I wish more companies incorporated the swiveling camera that they came with.
United States

Fracking Is Draining Water From Areas In US Suffering Major Shortages 268

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "RT reports that some of the most drought-ravaged areas of the US are also heavily targeted for oil and gas development using hydraulic fracturing — a practice that exacerbates water shortages with half of the oil and gas wells fracked across America since 2011 located in places suffering through drought. Taken together, all the wells surveyed from January 2011 to May 2013 consumed 97 billion gallons of water, pumped under high pressure to crack rocks containing oil or natural gas. Up to 10 million gallons can go into a single well. 'Hydraulic fracturing is increasing competitive pressures for water in some of the country's most water-stressed and drought-ridden regions,' says Mindy Lubber. 'Barring stiffer water-use regulations and improved on-the-ground practices, the industry's water needs in many regions are on a collision course with other water users, especially agriculture and municipal water use.' Nearly half (47%) of oil and gas wells recently hydraulically fractured in the U.S. and Canada are in regions with high or extremely high water stress. Amanda Brock, head of a water-treatment firm in Houston, says oil companies in California are already exploring ways to frack using the briny, undrinkable water found in the state's oil fields. While fracking consumes far less water than agriculture or residential uses, the impact can be huge on particular communities and is 'exacerbating already existing water problems,' says Monika Freyman. Hydraulic fracking is the 'latest party to come to the table,' says Freyman. The demands for the water are 'taking regions by surprise,' she says. More work needs to be done to better manage water use, given competing demand."
Privacy

New Zealand Spy Agency Deleted Evidence About Its Illegal Spying On Kim Dotcom 222

An anonymous reader writes "The latest news in this: GCSB appears to have deleted key evidence in the case in a ham-fisted attempt to cover up its illegal activities. Even more ridiculous, GCSB is trying to cover this up by claiming that the material had 'aged off' — implying that it was deleted automatically. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key claims that they had to delete the information under the law. Of course, there are a few problems with that. The first is that under New Zealand law, like most countries these days, parties have an obligation to preserve documents likely to be necessary in a legal case. But, even more damning is that there's video of John Key in the New Zealand Parliament trying to defend against an earlier claim that GCSB had deleted some evidence by insisting that GCSB does not delete anything ever:"
User Journal

Journal Update on the March of Progress: How Slashdot's New Look Is Shaping Up 237

In the weeks to come, you'll see Slashdot's ongoing redesign picking up several of the vital features that the
long beta period has been used to craft, as a new, cleaner look is implemented by default for more readers: quite a few of those "coming soon" info bubbles are finally being swapped out for genuine functioning tools that mean improved interfaces for some vital tasks and settings. Of note, since the last time we noted the progress in this blog, these features include:

  • A functioning moderation system
  • Comment filtering and threshold setting
  • Account sign-up
  • Password recovery (for when the inevitable happens)
  • Further improvements to responsive design, and general UI cleanup, as rendering and other kinks get straightened out thanks to your ongoing feedback

By the end of the month, we aim to have in place profile update, newsletter signup, and even more UI cleanup and assorted big fixes!

Watch this space for more details; for most readers, we hope that the elements we've redesigned mean a page that's gentler on the eyes, and has controls that are fewer, more useful, and easier to manipulate. Your feedback is very valuable to us during this redesign, so please tell us if you run into things that don't work for you on Slashdot Beta. If you would like to keep track of the latest updates for Beta, what's in it so far and what's in progress, bookmark our Beta News page, where the evolution is being chronicled.

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