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Programming

C Programming Language Hits a 15-Year Low On The TIOBE Index (businessinsider.com) 208

Gamoid writes: The venerable C programming language hit a 15-year low on the TIOBE Index, perhaps because more mobile- and web-friendly languages like Swift and Go are starting to eat its lunch. "The C programming language has a score of 11.303%, which is its lowest score ever since we started the TIOBE index back in 2001," writes Paul Jansen, manager of TIOBE Index. With that said, C is still the second most popular programming language in the world, behind only Java. Also worth noting as mentioned by Matt Weinberger via Business Insider, "C doesn't currently have a major corporate sponsor; Oracle makes a lot of money from Java; Apple pushes both Swift and Objective-C for building iPhone apps. But no big tech company is getting on stage and pushing C as the future of development. So C's problems could be marketing as much as anything."
Security

New Ransomware Poses As A Windows Update (hothardware.com) 88

Slashdot reader MojoKid quotes an article from Hot Hardware: A security researcher for AVG has discovered a new piece of ransomware called Fantom that masquerades as a critical Windows update. Victims who fall for the ruse will see a Windows screen acting like it's installing the update, but what's really happening is that the user's documents and files are being encrypted in the background...

The scam starts with a pop-up labeled as a critical update from Microsoft. Once a user decides to apply the fake update, it extracts files and executes an embedded program called WindowsUpdate.exe... As with other EDA2 ransomware, Fantom generates a random AES-128 key, encrypts it using RSA, and then uploads it to the culprit. From there, Fantom targets specific file extensions and encrypts those files using AES-128 encryption... Users affected by this are instructed to email the culprit for payment instructions.

While the ransomware is busy encrypting your files, it displays Microsoft's standard warning about not turning off the computer while the "update" is in progress. Pressing Ctrl+F4 closes that window, according to the article, "but that doesn't stop the ransomware from encrypting files in the background."

Submission + - RIP John Ellenby, godfather of the modern laptop (nytimes.com)

fragMasterFlash writes: John Ellenby, a British-born computer engineer who played a critical role in paving the way for the laptop computer, died on Aug. 17 in San Francisco. He was 75.

Mr. Ellenby’s pioneering work came to fruition in the early 1980s, after he founded Grid Systems, a company in Mountain View, Calif. As chief executive, he assembled an engineering and design team that included the noted British-born industrial designer William Moggridge.

The team produced a clamshell computer with an orange electroluminescent flat-panel display that was introduced as the Compass. It went to market in 1982. The Compass is now widely acknowledged to have been far ahead of its time.

Submission + - British Companies Are Selling Advanced Spy Tech To Authoritarian Regimes (vice.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Since early 2015, over a dozen UK companies have been granted licenses to export powerful telecommunications interception technology to countries around the world, Motherboard has learned. Many of these exports include IMSI-catchers, devices which can monitor large numbers of mobile phones over broad areas. Some of the UK companies were given permission to export their products to authoritarian states such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Egypt; countries with poor human rights records that have been well-documented to abuse surveillance technology. In 2015, the UK's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) started publishing basic data about the exportation of telecommunications interception devices. Through the Freedom of Information Act, Motherboard obtained the names of companies that have applied for exportation licenses, as well as details on the technologies being shipped, including, in some cases, individual product names. The companies include a subsidiary of defense giant BAE Systems, as well as Pro-Solve International, ComsTrac, CellXion, Cobham, and Domo Tactical Communications (DTC). Many of these companies sell IMSI-catchers. IMSI-catchers, sometimes known as “Stingrays” after a particularly popular brand, are fake cell phone towers which force devices in their proximity to connect. In the data obtained by Motherboard, 33 licenses are explicitly marked as being for IMSI-catchers, including for export to Turkey and Indonesia. Other listings heavily suggest the export of IMSI-catchers too: one granted application to export to Iraq is for a “Wideband Passive GSM Monitoring System,” which is a more technical description of what many IMSI-catchers do. In all, Motherboard received entries for 148 export license applications, from February 2015 to April 2016. A small number of the named companies do not provide interception capabilities, but defensive measures, for example to monitor the radio spectrum.

Submission + - Trump's shock troops: Who are the 'alt-right'? (bbc.com)

alternative_right writes: Anthony Smith, a journalist for the website Mic, got a tip that the image had appeared on 8chan, an extreme message board with many users who self-identify as members of the alt-right movement.

At first Smith was sceptical that he'd be able to stand the story up. The message board is fast-moving, threads get deleted quickly, and it's difficult to search for and find images. But within an hour, he had his answer.

Submission + - FBI: Hillary Clinton used BleachBit to wipe emails (neowin.net) 1

An anonymous reader writes: The open source disk cleaning application, BleachBit, got quite a decent ad pitch from the world of politics after it was revealed lawyers of the presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, used the software to wipe her email servers. Clinton is currently in hot water, being accused of using private servers for storing sensitive emails.

“She and her lawyers had those emails deleted. And they didn't just push the delete button; they had them deleted where even God can't read them. They were using something called BleachBit. You don't use BleachBit for yoga emails or bridesmaids emails. When you're using BleachBit, it is something you really do not want the world to see.”

Two of the main features that are listed on the BleachBit website include “Shred files to hide their contents and prevent data recovery”, and “Overwrite free disk space to hide previously deleted files”. These two features would make it pretty difficult for anyone trying to recover the deleted emails.

HP

NASA's Outsourced Computer People Are Even Worse Than You Might Expect (arstechnica.com) 252

Eric berger, writing for ArsTechnica: As part of a plan to help NASA "modernize" its desktop and laptop computers, the space agency signed a $2.5 billion services contract with HP Enterprise Services in 2011. According to HP (now HPE), part of the Agency Consolidated End-User Service (ACES) program the computing company would "modernize NASA's entire end-user infrastructure by delivering a full range of personal computing services and devices to more than 60,000 users." HPE also said the program would "allow (NASA) employees to more easily collaborate in a secure computing environment." The services contract, alas, hasn't gone quite as well as one might have hoped. This week Federal News Radio reported that HPE is doing such a poor job that NASA's chief information officer, Renee Wynn, could no longer accept the security risks associated with the contract. Wynn, therefore, did not sign off on the authority to operate (ATO) for systems and tools.A spokesperson for NASA said: "NASA continues to work with HPE to remediate vulnerabilities. As required by NASA policy, system owners must accomplish this remediation within a specified period of time. For those vulnerabilities that cannot be fully remediated within the established time frame, a Plan of Actions and Milestones (POAM) must be developed, approved, and tracked to closure."
Iphone

A Design Defect Is Plaguing Many iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Units (iphonehacks.com) 222

Evan Selleck, writing for iPhoneHacks (edited and condensed): For many iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners out there in the wild, a design defect is apparently causing some huge issues. Gadget repair firm iFixit has reported about a flaw dubbed "Touch Disease", which it claims is cropping up. With it, owners of the phones are experiencing, to start, a gray bar that appears at the very top of their display. And, for many others, the display itself becomes unresponsive to touch, or less responsive overall. In the blog post, iFixit says the problem stems from issues with the touchscreen controller chip, which is soldered onto the logic board. Interestingly enough, iFixit posits that the same internal design decisions that led to "Endgate" might be causing the issue leading to Touch Disease, too: "In both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the Touch IC chips connect to the logic board via an array of itty-bitty solder balls -- "like a plate resting on marbles," Jessa explains. Over time, as the phone flexes or twists slightly during normal use, those solder balls crack and start to lose contact with the board. "At first, there may be no defect at all. Later you might notice that the screen is sometimes unresponsive, but it is quick to come back with a hard reset," Jessa explains. "As the crack deepens into a full separation of the chip-board bond, the periods of no touch function become more frequent."
Programming

20% of Scientific Papers On Genes Contain Conversion Errors Caused By Excel, Says Report (winbeta.org) 348

An anonymous reader writes from a report via WinBeta: A new report from scientists Mark Ziemann, Yotam Eren, and Assam El-Osta says that 20% of scientific papers on genes contain gene name conversion errors caused by Excel. In the scientific article, titled "Gene name errors are widespread in the scientific literature," article's abstract section, the scientists explain: "The spreadsheet software Microsoft Excel, when used with default settings, is known to convert gene names to dates and floating-point numbers. A programmatic scan of leading genomics journals reveals that approximately one-fifth of papers with supplementary Excel gene lists contain erroneous gene name conversions."

It's easy to see why Excel might have problems with certain gene names when you see the "gene symbols" that the scientists use as examples: "For example, gene symbols such as SEPT2 (Septin 2) and MARCH1 [Membrane-Associated Ring Finger (C3HC4) 1, E3 Ubiquitin Protein Ligase] are converted by default to '2-Sep' and '1-Mar', respectively. Furthermore, RIKEN identifiers were described to be automatically converted to floating point numbers (i.e. from accession '2310009E13' to '2.31E+13'). Since that report, we have uncovered further instances where gene symbols were converted to dates in supplementary data of recently published papers (e.g. 'SEPT2' converted to '2006/09/02'). This suggests that gene name errors continue to be a problem in supplementary files accompanying articles. Inadvertent gene symbol conversion is problematic because these supplementary files are an important resource in the genomics community that are frequently reused. Our aim here is to raise awareness of the problem."
You can view the scientific paper in its entirety here.
Microsoft

Ask Slashdot: How Will You Handle Microsoft's New 'Cumulative' Windows Updates? (slashdot.org) 404

Microsoft's announced they'll discontinue "individual patches" for Windows 7 and 8.1 (as well as Windows Server 2008 R2, 2012, and 2012 R2). Instead they'll have monthly "cumulative" rollups of each month's patches, and while there will be a separate "security-only" bundle each month, "individual patches will no longer be available." This has one anonymous Slashdot reader asking what's the alternative: We've read about the changes coming to Windows Update in October 2016... But what happens when it's time to wipe and reload the OS? Or what about installing Windows on different hardware? Admittedly, there are useful non-security updates worth having, but plenty to avoid (e.g. telemetry).

How does one handle this challenge? Set up a personal WSUS box before October to sync all desired updates through October 2016? System images can work if you don't change primary hardware, but what if you do? Or should one just bend the knee to Microsoft...?

Should they use AutoPatcher? Switch to Linux? Or just disconnect their Windows boxes from the internet... Leave your answers in the comments. How do you plan to handle Microsoft's new 'cumulative' Windows Updates?
Bitcoin

'SingularDTV' Will Use Ethereum For DRM On A Sci-Fi TV Show (rocknerd.co.uk) 78

It's "an epic sci-fi adventure about the human race's journey into a theoretical technological Singularity." Or is it an "entertainment industry boondoggle...part DRM snake oil marketing, part pseudo-Bitcoin scam and part sincere Singularitarian weirdness?" Long-term Slashdot reader David Gerard writes: SingularDTV is an exciting new blockchain-based entertainment industry startup. Their plan is to adapt the DRM that made $121.54 for Imogen Heap, make their own completely pre-mined altcoin and use that to somehow sell two million views of a sci-fi TV show about the Singularity. Using CODE, which is explicitly modeled on The DAO ... which spectacularly imploded days after its launch. There's a white paper [PDF], but here's an analysis of why these schemes are a terrible idea for musicians.
'Singular' will be a one-hour adventure/drama "that explores the impact technology will have on the future of our planet and how it will shape the evolution of our human race," set in the years 2021 to 2045, "as an unprecedented technological revolution sweeps over the world..."
ISS

Astronauts Successfully Install Parking Spot At ISS (phys.org) 45

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: With more private spaceship traffic expected at the International Space Station in the coming years, two U.S. astronauts embarked on a spacewalk Friday to install a special parking spot for them. Americans Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins switched their spacesuits to internal battery power at 8:04 (1204 GMT) and floated outside the orbiting laboratory to begin the work of attaching the first of two international docking adaptors. The spacewalkers finished the task in just over two hours. "With that, we have a new port of call," said NASA commentator Rob Navias, as the space station flew over Singapore at 10:40 am (1440 GMT). NASA describes the docking adaptor as a "metaphorical gateway to a future" that will allow a new generation of U.S. spacecraft -- the first since the space shuttle program ended in 2011 -- to carry astronauts to the space station. The second docking adaptor is expected to be installed in 2018. Built by Boeing, the circular adaptor measures around 42 inches (one meter) tall and about 63 inches wide. The adaptors will work with Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon, two spaceships under construction that are planned to ferry astronauts to the space station. The docking adaptor is more sophisticated than past equipment because it will allow automatic parking instead of the current grapple and berthing process, which is managed by astronauts.

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