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Submission + - Google Accused Of Stealing Balloon Network Tech Behind Project Loon

An anonymous reader writes: Google’s parent company Alphabet has found itself faced with a lawsuit, which claims that the tech giant stole the idea behind its Wi-Fi-emitting balloon network, Project Loon. Space Data of Chandler, Arizona, is arguing that it currently holds patents for a balloon-based system which carries broadband antennae to create a wireless network to deliver data services to U.S. armed forces and across remote areas of Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

The organisation is seeking damages for two counts of patent infringement, as well as two counts of misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of written contract.

Submission + - Employers Struggle to Find Workers Who Can Pass a Drug Test

HughPickens.com writes: Jackie Calmes writes in the NYT that all over the country, employers say they see a disturbing downside of tighter labor markets as they try to rebuild from the worst recession since the Depression: the struggle to find workers who can pass a pre-employment drug test. The hurdle partly stems from the growing ubiquity of drug testing, at corporations with big human resources departments, in industries like trucking where testing is mandated by federal law for safety reasons, and increasingly at smaller companies. But data suggest employers’ difficulties also reflect an increase in the use of drugs, especially marijuana — employers’ main gripe — and also heroin and other opioid drugs much in the news. Data on the scope of the problem is sketchy because figures on job applicants who test positive for drugs miss the many people who simply skip tests they cannot pass. But Quest Diagnostics, which has compiled employer-testing data since 1988, documented a 10% increase in one year in the percentage of American workers who tested positive for illicit drugs — up to 4.7 percent in 2014 from 4.3 percent in 2013.

With the software industry already plagued by a shortage of skilled workers, especially female programmers, some software companies think now would be the wrong time to institute drug testing for new employees, a move that would further limit the available talent pool. “The acceptability of at least marijuana has shifted dramatically over the last 20 years,” says Carl Erickson. “If the standard limits those that have used marijuana in the last week, you’re surely going to be limiting your pool of applicants.” Erickson’s decision not to drug test stems from a low risk of workplace injury for his workers combined with an unwillingness to pry into the personal lives of his employees. "My perspective on this is if they want to share their recreational habits with me, that’s their prerogative, but I’m sure as hell not going to put them in a position to have to do it."

Submission + - It's Trivially Easy To Identify You Based On Records Of Your Calls And Texts

erier2003 writes: Contrary to the claims of America's top spies, the details of your phone calls and text messages—including when they took place and whom they involved—are no less revealing than the actual contents of those communications.

In a study published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Stanford University researchers demonstrated how they used publicly available sources—like Google searches and the paid background-check service Intelius—to identify "the overwhelming majority" of their 823 volunteers based only on their anonymized call and SMS metadata.

Submission + - Home Depot Rejects Review Containing Safety Information 1

Bruce Perens writes: The "AFCI" breaker is a relatively new kind which detects hidden electrical sparks from poor series electrical connections, by receiving high electrical frequencies that electrical arcing emits. Such sparks can eventually cause a fire. In looking for one on the Home Depot site, I came upon this device, with a review from a customer who returned the breaker because it trips every week or two on their lighting circuit. This indicates exactly the problem the device is meant to catch.

Because there was no way to feed back to the reviewer, I wrote a second review with some safety advice, hoping to inform the next person to come by. But Home Depot rejected it, because it did not specifically discuss the product.

Of course we can't cure all of the world's fire hazards. But it's nice to point out a problem when you see one, lest some poor sap's home burn down. But this is difficult to do when staff at the vendor and its web site don't have a clue. Maybe some publicity on Slashdot will help.

Submission + - A review of new features in FreeBSD 10.3 (distrowatch.com)

An anonymous reader writes: DistroWatch has a review of some of the more significant features which appeared in FreeBSD 10.3. The review covers Linux compatibility, managing jails with iocage and ZFS-powered boot environments.

"The release announcement for FreeBSD 10.3 mentioned several features and improvements which caught my attention. Specifically the availability of ZFS boot environments, 64-bit Linux compatibility and jail improvements were of interest to me. I was especially eager to try out FreeBSD's new jails technology using the iocage front-end. The iocage software has been presented as an improvement on (and replacement for) Warden, a friendly front-end for handling jail environments."

Submission + - Wikileaks: Brazil's acting president used to be US intel informant (thefreethoughtproject.com) 2

Okian Warrior writes: WikiLeaks has exposed acting President Michel Temer as having been an intelligence informant for the United States. Temer, who has served as Brazil’s vice president since 2011, took power Thursday after Brazil’s parliament suspended [then president] Rousseff pending the results of impeachment proceedings. The cables — marked “sensitive but unclassified” — contained summaries of conversations Temer, a Brazilian federal lawmaker at the time, had with the U.S. intelligence officials.

Submission + - How Intel Knocked Itself Out Of the Smartphone Chip Market (cio.com)

itwbennett writes: Remember back in 2007 when Intel passed on making chips for the iPhone? In hindsight, that was probably not the best move (Former CEO Paul Otellini admitted as much in a 2013 interview with The Atlantic). But it also wasn't the company's only mistake. The company placed a high priority on the now-declining tablet market. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, who replaced Otellini, set a goal to ship 40 million tablet chips by the end of 2014 using heavy subsidies on Atom chips. The company shipped 46 million chips that year, but the effort hurt Intel's profitability, and Krzanich decided not to repeat that strategy with smartphones. Late last month the company cancelled its upcoming Atom chip lines for smartphones, including Broxton and the Sofia 3GX, Sofia LTE and Sofia LTE2 commercial platforms. Instead, it's looking for redemption in 5G technology, which won't be limited to mobile devices.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Why is Windows 10 LAN shares so *#$@ed up? 3

An anonymous reader writes: All I want to do is share a single folder on my LAN. No passwords, no freaking authentication, no nothing. Everything's set to where it should work. I can find Linux shares just fine from Windows, but trying to get to a Windows share from Linux is increasing my French vocabulary. Yeah, I've done this and that already until I'm red in the face. Always the "please enter your credentials" popup asking for a username and password for a share that is not supposed to have one. It was working just fine until an update did something. Even my printer share is not working now. I've read about 2 dozen web pages all about the same unresolved problem.

Submission + - FBI Warns Farmers About Smart Farm Hacking Risk (securityledger.com)

chicksdaddy writes: Farmers who are looking to make better use of technology need to start paying attention to security, or suffer the same fate as industries such as healthcare, the FBI warned in an industry note, The Security Ledger reports. (https://securityledger.com/2016/04/fbi-warns-of-smart-farm-risk/)

In an FBI Private Industry Note dated March 31 (https://info.publicintelligence.net/FBI-SmartFarmHacking.pdf), the Bureau said that increased adoption of “precision farming” technology threatens to expose the nation’s agriculture sector to the risk of hacking and data theft.

“Historically, the farming industry has lacked awareness of how their data should be protected from cyber exploitation,” the FBI said. That’s a dangerous precedent as farmers invest in connected and data intensive farming equipment and related services.

Possible risks include hacktivists who destroy data to protest the use of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) or pesticides. Farm-level data may also be vulnerable to ransomware and data destruction, potentially impacting the food supply, the FBI said.

Though lower profile than industries like cars and manufacturing, agriculture has been an aggressive adopter of new technology, allowing fewer people to manage large, industrial farms far more effectively. Farm equipment by John Deere and others now frequently is equipped with sensors and paired with sophisticated, hosted services. That's not always a good thing: Wired wrote last year about the struggles of farmers who struggle with software-induced shutdowns with expensive equipment that they are unable to resolve themselves. (http://www.wired.com/2015/02/new-high-tech-farm-equipment-nightmare-farmers/) Anti-tamper features built into hardware and software by manufacturers like John Deere prevent them from doing so.

Submission + - Ad technology company claims ad blockers are "breaking the Internet" (telegraph.co.uk)

whoever57 writes: London, UK based ad technology company Oriel has published a claim that ad blockers break web applications in ways other than merely not displaying ads. They show examples such as airline sites that will not allow check-in because of the effects of an ad blocker. The original report is here. The CEO of Oriel is quoted saying that he discovered this accidentally when attempting to check into a flight, which raises the question: why would the CEO of an ad technology company use an ad blocker?

Submission + - How South Park Saved Fair Use (reason.com)

SonicSpike writes: For 19 seasons, South Park has provided cutting cultural commentary centered around the foul-mouthed adventures of elementary school students Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman. But the raunchy cartoon has also helped establish an important legal entertainment precedent that expands free speech rights.

"When anybody creates anything, basically, that thing automatically gets copyrighted and for the most part it can't be used in certain ways without permission," explains Higgins. "But there are some really important exceptions to that rule, and there are some really important places where we say, 'Actually, members of the public, no matter who they are, can use this thing for all sorts of reasons without getting permission.'"

In 2010, EFF became unlikely allies with the media giant Viacom—the owner of Comedy Central—which had been sued by Brownmark Films after a 2008 South Park episode called "Canada on Strike" parodied a popular viral video by the musician Samwell.

The South Park version of the video, starring a recurring character named Butters, mimics the original video nearly shot-for-shot. The stunningly unsubtle lyrics are slightly abbreviated but otherwise unchanged. The kids post their rendition to "YouToob" and watch as it grabs millions of hits. Brownmark was not amused.

EFF and Viacom argued that the South Park episode was a clear case of fair use, as it was a parody commenting on the viral video trend. The criteria under which a fair use determination is made include whether or not the work transforms the original work, the nature of the original work, how much of the original work is used, and whether it affects the market for the original work. One reason the suit was so important was that the video walked several lines: It was a close copy, it was not transformative in the sense that term had been traditionally understood, it used a significant proportion of the original, and it was for commercial rather than educational use.

The case eventually made its way to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, where the judges ruled in favor of South Park. The decision cited EFF's argument that lawsuits too often are "baseless shakedowns" designed to extract cash from deep-pocketed creators and distributors, such as Viacom. "Ruinous discovery heightens the incentive to settle rather than defend these frivolous suits," it said. "District courts need not, and indeed ought not, allow discovery when it is clear that the case turns on facts already in evidence."

The ruling has become important to entertainment law, because it says that a fair use suit can be stopped before going to trial. This can help creators avoid the huge costs of litigation brought on by frivolous copyright lawsuits.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the "What, What (In the Butt)" case has been the most cited in courtrooms across the country in the last five years, thanks to the growth of digital content.

Submission + - US brings B-52 bombers back to the Mideast to target ISIS (globalnews.ca)

Eloking writes: DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The United States has deployed B-52 bombers to the Mideast nation of Qatar to take part in the U.S.-led bombing campaign against the Islamic State group, the Air Force said Saturday.

It is the first time the Cold War-era heavy bombers will be based in the region since the 1991 Gulf War, when they operated from neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

The Air Force said the B-52s arrived at Qatar’s al-Udeid Air Base from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana on Saturday.

The long-range bombers will join a multinational coalition carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq.

Submission + - SCO files appeal in IBM lawsuit (theinquirer.net)

An anonymous reader writes: NOW-DEFUNCT UNIX VENDOR SCO, which claimed that Linux infringed its intellectual property and sought as much as $5bn in compensation from IBM, has filed notice of yet another appeal in the 13-year-old dispute.

The appeal comes after a ruling at the end of February when SCO's arguments claiming intellectual property ownership over parts of Unix were rejected by a US district court. That judgment noted that SCO had minimal resources to defend counter-claims filed by IBM due to SCO's bankruptcy.

Submission + - The decline of Russia as a country is reflected in its faltering space program (examiner.com) 1

MarkWhittington writes: As Ars Technica pointed out, the budget for the Russian space program was slashed by 30 percent due to the faltering economy in that country. The Russians will spend as much on space exploration in the next decade as NASA will in a single year. The decline of the Russian space program reflects the overall decline of Russia as a world power, even as President Vladimir Putin struggles to reassert his country’s influence in world affairs through military adventures in the Ukraine and Syria

Submission + - Microsoft Denies Rogue Windows 10 Upgrades, Says Users Remain Fully In Control (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: Despite significant user outcry that Microsoft Windows 10 upgrade mechanism has gone rogue, installing on customers' Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 machines when their backs were turned or they were otherwise away from the computer, Microsoft is pleading innocent. News broke of the automatic Windows 10 upgrades over the weekend, and in nearly every case, it was claimed Windows 10 installed without user intervention. Microsoft issued the following statement regarding the alleged unplanned upgrades: "We shared in late October on the Windows Blog, we are committed to making it easy for our Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers to upgrade to Windows 10. As stated in that post, we have updated the upgrade experience to make it easier for customers to schedule a time for their upgrade to take place. Customers continue to be fully in control of their devices, and can choose to not install the Windows 10 upgrade or remove the upgrade from Windows Update (WU) by changing the WU settings." However, users are still reporting the Windows 10 has allegedly forcefully taken over their machines. Hundreds and maybe thousands of users and IT admins are still chiming in on various threads around the web that they've "been had" by Microsoft.

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