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Submission + - Techdirt asks judge to throw out suit over "Inventor of E-mail" (arstechnica.com)

walterbyrd writes: Michael Masnick, who founded the popular Techdirt blog, filed a motion today asking for a defamation lawsuit against him to be thrown out. Masnick was sued last month by Shiva Ayyadurai, a scientist and entrepreneur who claims to have invented e-mail in 1978 at a medical college in New Jersey.

In his motion, Masnick claims that Ayyadurai "is seeking to use the muzzle of a defamation action to silence those who question his claim to historical fame."

Submission + - Mozilla will deprecate XUL add-ons before the end of 2017 2

Artem Tashkinov writes: Mozilla has published a plan of add-ons deprecation in future Firefox releases. Firefox 53 will run in multi process mode by default for all users with some exceptions. Most add ons will continue to function, however certain add ons have already ceased to function because they don't expect multi user mode under the hood. Firefox 54-56 will introduce even more changes which will ultimately break even more addons. Firefox 57, which will be preliminarily released on the 28th of Novermber, 2017, will only run WebExtensions: which means no XUL (overlay) add ons, no bootstrapped extensions, no SDK extensions and no Embedded WebExtensions. In other words by this date the chromification of Firefox will have been completed. If you depend on XUL add ons your only choice past this date will be Pale Moon.

Submission + - Is Donald Trump suffering from mental illness? (scientificamerican.com)

mmell writes: Despite a long-standing rule against remotely diagnosing public figures' mental health, 35 U.S. psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers signed a letter to the editor of The New York Times warning about Trumpâ(TM)s mental health, according to multiple generally reliable media sources. The signatory psychiatrists and psychologists have chosen to break from accepted practice (the so called "Goldwater Rule") both because the publicly available evidence in this instance is to them quite clear, and because of the tremendous risk to the general welfare which they feel the current POTUS poses. âoeWe fear that too much is at stake to be silent any longerâ, stated one of the signatory professionals.

The "Goldwater Rule" came about during the mid-1960's when multiple mental health professionals went on record asserting that Barry Goldwater suffered from mental illness. The public nature of their concerns led to a libel suit which Senator Goldwater won. Presumably, the doctors and media outlets involved in this public statement regarding Donald Trump have considered the Goldwater Rule and decided that the threat to the general weal outweighs their individual exposure to litigation.

It should be noted that not all health care professionals share their colleagues views on this matter. Some strongly disagree with the remote diagnosis of mental health issues while others are concerned that this could be seen as bringing an unpleasant stigma to those diagnosed with mental health issues. Incidentally, the remote diagnosis which has been mentioned is Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD. It is characterized as an inability to tolerate any opinion or fact which does not correlate with one's personally held views.

Submission + - Your Digital Life Can Be Legally Seized at the Border 3

Toe, The writes: Quincy Larson from freeCodeCamp relates some frightening stories from U.S. citizens entering their own country, and notes that you don't have fourth and fifth amendment rights at the border. People can and have been compelled to give their phone password (or be detained indefinitely) before entering the U.S and other countries. Given what we keep on our phones, he concludes that it is now both easy and legal for customs and border control to access your whole digital life. And he provides some nice insights on how easy it is to access and store the whole thing, how widespread access would be to that data, and how easy it would be for the wrong hands to get on it. His advice: before you travel internationally, wipe your phone or bring/rent/buy a clean one.

Submission + - At the End, Obama Administration Gave NSA Broad New Powers (pjmedia.com) 1

Tulsa_Time writes: This story, from the Jan. 12, 2017, edition of the New York Times, was little-remarked upon at the time, but suddenly has taken on far greater significance in light of current events:

In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.

Submission + - JavaScript Attack Breaks ASLR on 22 CPU Architectures (bleepingcomputer.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Five researchers from the Vrije University in the Netherlands have put together an attack that can be carried out via JavaScript code and break ASLR protection on at least 22 microprocessor architectures from vendors such as Intel, AMD, ARM, Allwinner, Nvidia, and others. The attack, christened ASLRCache, or AnC, focuses on the memory management unit (MMU), a lesser known component of many CPU architectures, which is tasked with improving performance for cache management operations.

What researchers discovered was that this component shares some of its cache with untrusted applications, including browsers. This meant that researchers could send malicious JavaScript that specifically targeted this shared memory space and attempted to read its content. In layman's terms, this means an AnC attack can break ASLR and allow the attacker to read portions of the computer's memory, which he could then use to launch more complex exploits and escalate access to the entire OS.

Researchers have published two papers [1, 2] detailing the AnC attack, along with two videos[1, 2] showing the attack in action.

Submission + - Nearly 56,000 bridges called structurally deficient (usatoday.com)

schwit1 writes:

More than one in four bridges (173,919) are at least 50 years old and have never had major reconstruction work, according to the ARTBA analysis. State transportation officials have identified 13,000 bridges along interstates that need replacement, widening or major reconstruction, according to the group.

“America’s highway network is woefully underperforming,” said Alison Premo Black, the group’s chief economics who conducted the analysis. “It is outdated, overused, underfunded and in desperate need of modernization.”


Submission + - Human Gene Editing Receives Science Panel's Support (nytimes.com)

schwit1 writes: An influential science advisory group formed by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine on Tuesday lent its support to a once-unthinkable proposition: the modification of human embryos to create genetic traits that can be passed down to future generations.

This type of human gene editing has long been seen as an ethical minefield. Researchers fear that the techniques used to prevent genetic diseases might also be used to enhance intelligence, for example, or to create people physically suited to particular tasks, like serving as soldiers.

The advisory group endorsed only alterations designed to prevent babies from acquiring genes known to cause “serious diseases and disability,” and only when there is no “reasonable alternative.” The report provides an explicit rationale for genetic research that the federal government has avoided supporting until now, although the work is being pursued in countries like Sweden and China.

Submission + - Sex Offenders Are Still Locked up After Serving Their Time. Why? (realclearinvestigations.com)

schwit1 writes:

Some 20 states have civil commitment programs for people deemed sexually violent predators. Records show that more than 5,000 Americans are being held this way nationwide. Those numbers have roughly doubled over the previous decade or so, as judges, governors and state legislators have reacted to public concern about violent sexual crimes.

Civil confinement lies at the fraught intersection of crime, sex, and politics, in which sexual crimes, and just the possibility of sexual crimes, are treated differently from other offenses. Murderers, armed robbers, drunken hit-and-run drivers, insider traders, and other criminals are released when their prison sentences have been served.

States operating these programs defend them as necessary to protect the public, especially children, against dangerous sexual predators. The Supreme Court has upheld them, ruling that as long as they are narrowly tailored, with their “clients” subject to regular reviews, they serve a legitimate public interest in keeping potential dangerous offenders off the streets.

But critics of civil commitment argue that men are being locked away (and almost all of the detainees are men), often effectively for life, on the basis of subjective predictions of what a former sex offender might do in the future. They assert that this is a flagrant violation of the 14th Amendment’s requirement that no person shall be deprived of his freedom without “due process of law.”

Recidivism rates for sex offenders are typically lower than for people who commit other types of felonies. But statistics don’t matter when politicians and judges are trying to mollify the mob.

Submission + - Remote vs. In-Office Software Teams: Which Is Better? (techbeacon.com)

mikeatTB writes: While Yahoo and Reddit are sold on banning remote work, there is generally increased acceptance of remote versus co-located teams, and the availability of effective tools that enable it are among the most significant trends affecting technology industry employment today. As with most things in business, productivity and cost are the dominant factors when choosing between remote and co-located workplaces. But there's no one answer. Which is the better fit for your software teams? Dave Fecak does a review of the science, and how peers in the industry are dealing with the modern workplace. One interesting take on the issues is raised by ThoughtWorks' Martin Fowler: Individuals are more productive in a co-located environment, but remote teams are often more productive than co-located teams. This is because a remote team has the advantage of hiring without geographic boundaries, and that enables employers to assemble world-class groups.

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