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Submission + - Astronomers devise plan to hide Earth from hostile aliens (

Flash Modin writes: The Kepler space telescope has found thousands of exoplanets via characteristic dips in light as the planet passes in front of its star. Some paranoid astronomers, including Stephen Hawking, think aliens might use these same transits to spot Earth and then send an invading army. In a scientific paper that seems like it came into the world scribbled on a barroom napkin, Columbia University astronomers David Kipping and Alex Teachey propose that humanity could hide its presence from these hostile aliens — with lasers. To cloak ourselves, humanity could emit a continuous 30 megawatt laser for 10 hours, once a year, and block our transit signal. That would hide the dip in sunlight Earth makes as it passes in front of the Sun from an alien’s eye view.

Submission + - A Text Editor that Dumbs Down Your Language

WheezyJoe writes: In a novel and a maybe disturbing twist on the text-editor / word-processor, cleartext forces you to write at a fourth or fifth grade level. Written for the Mac and available at Github, cleartext checks your language against 1000 of the most common words in English; all other words are either tagged yellow or deleted on-the-fly. Inspired by Randall Monroe's new book Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words, the app can be useful for writing speeches for politicians, explaining to family members why their computers act up, or anything else where the reader might have a limited vocabulary or short attention span.

Submission + - Hacker given in-game death sentence (

mpicpp writes: A character controlled by a hacker who used exploits to dominate online game Guild Wars 2 has been put to death in the virtual world.

The character, called DarkSide, was stripped then forced to leap to their death from a high bridge.
The death sentence was carried out after players gathered evidence about the trouble the hacker had caused.

This helped the game's security staff find the player, take over their account and kill them off.

Over the past three weeks many players of the popular multi-player game Guild Wars 2 have been complaining about the activities of a character called DarkSide. About four million copies of the game have been sold.

Via a series of exploits the character was able to teleport, deal massive damage, survive co-ordinated attacks by other players and dominate player-versus-player combat.
To spur Guild Wars' creator ArenaNet to react, players gathered videos of DarkSide's antics and posted them on YouTube.

The videos helped ArenaNet's security head Chris Cleary identify the player behind DarkSide, he said in a forum post explaining what action it had taken. Mr Cleary took over the account to carry out the punishment.
The video shows DarkSide being stripped to his underwear then made to leap from a high bridge in one of the game's cities. It also shows the character being deleted by Mr Cleary.

"Oh yah, he's also banned," he wrote. Several other accounts belonging to the same player have also been shut down.

Submission + - April Fool's Joke spoofs market algorithms (

Okian Warrior writes: Yesterday, Tesla's twitter feed and blog announced the new "W" Model. Meaning "Watch" (as in "wristwatch"), the announcement Included a photo of a watch spouting a cumbersome "Big Ben" glued to the face and including this text:

"This incredible new device from Tesla doesn't just tell the time, it also tells the date. What's more, it is infinitely adjustable, able to tell the time no matter where you are on Earth. Japan, Timbuktu, California, anywhere! This will change your life. Reality as you know it will never be the same."

Clearly, this was an April fool's joke as anyone who reads more than just the headline would immediately guess. The problem is that Bloomberg's fast response team did not. The algos, on massive volume, spiked TSLA stock higher by nearly 1%....

Submission + - Slashdot polluted by lame April Fools Jokes (

An anonymous reader writes: From the "taking a joke well past the point it stopped being funny" department. It appears Slashdot editors haven't figured out that a joke can be beaten into the ground to the point where it's beyond not funny and, in fact, is downright annoying.

Submission + - Petulant Penguin Hackers use Antarctica as Base (

chicksdaddy writes: Security Ledger reports on a new and sophisticated cyber crime campaign dubbed “Petulant Penguin” that is using compromised computers at Antarctic research bases to launch targeted attacks on government agencies in the U.S. and Europe. (

“To say we were surprised is an understatement,” said Matt Flinders, a security researcher at the firm Crowdstrike, which was among a handful to identify the attack. “We’re used to seeing attacks with ties back to countries like Russia, China – even Brazil. But Antarctica? Nobody expected that.”

Crowdstrike issued a report ( that provides information on the attacks Wednesday. Its profiles of sophisticated hacker groups include names like “Deep Panda” (a Chinese hacking crew with links to the People’s Liberation Army), “Energetic Bear,” (a group with its base in the Russian Federation) and “Flying Kitten” (with links to the Islamic Republic of Iran).

Antartica is connected to the Internet and even has its own top-level domain, .AQ. But data access for the icy continent is spotty and heavily reliant on satellites. Internet access to the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station is provided by access via NASA’s TDRS-F1, GOES & Iridium satellite constellation. The South Pole’s TDRS relay (named South Pole TDRSS Relay or SPTR) was upgraded recently to support a data return rate of 50 Mbit/s. That accounts for more than 90% of the South Pole’s data capability and is primarily used to relay scientific data from the many research stations.

Working through NASA and other agencies, researchers were eventually able to trace the malicious traffic back to research installations at the South Pole including the Amundsen-Scott base, Concordia Station (a joint Italian and French research base) and Japan’s Dome Fuji station. Interestingly, the attackers were apparently able to work around the continent’s spotty access to the Internet and limited bandwidth: scheduling their malicious activities for seasons and periods in which the stations enjoyed strong and reliable Internet access.

Submission + - Microsoft Releases MS-DOS Mobile (

helix2301 writes: I’m no fan of April Fools, but this one is pretty good: Microsoft today released MS-DOS Mobile, a new Windows Phone app “built from the ground up” to bring back the C:\ prompt. Sadly, my DOS skills long ago atrophied, but this app actually includes a fully-working copy of Microsoft’s pre-Windows OS.

“The MS-DOS Mobile preview is an essential download,” Microsoft’s Luke Peters writes in the Lumia Conversations blog. “Whether you’re going back to BASIC, or simply booting into DOS for the first time, MS-DOS Mobile marks the next step in Microsoft’s reinvention of productivity.”

Submission + - The Veteran Unix Admins give up on systemd (

jaromil writes: Following the "Debianfork declaration" last year, the anonymous collective "Veteran Unix Admins" has engaged the creation of a new distribution called Devuan, basically consisting in a Debian Jessie without systemd. Despite some relevant achievements on their plan and the considerable amount of donations they have received, today the VUA collective has declared they give up on this effort and accept the advent of systemd. Looks like it was a short but intense life for Devuan.

Submission + - Google Maps now offering Pac-Man (

Iamthecheese writes: April Fools day has been a time for Google to roll out new ideas in the past. Gmail was one of them. There have been various other little games and widgets published on this day by Google as well. Today I noticed (from one computer but not a different one) the availability of Pac Man. Just click the button and have fun!

Submission + - Mysterious Cat Appears on Google Maps

jones_supa writes: Google are looking into how an image of a giant cat has appeared on its Maps service. The map data features a squiggly road which visually depicts a feline outline. The shape was spotted in Hobson Bay in Auckland, New Zealand, but does not exist in real life and the company aren't entirely sure how it actually got there. Google's head of communications in New Zealand, Annie Baxter, gave a funny reply: "We were aware that cats were trying to take over YouTube, but we didn't realise it was extending to Google Maps. We're looking into this." There is a story in Reddit which claims that a Google Maps user designed and uploaded the cat. Yes, you can edit parts of maps on Google. You can't change the location of a motorway or famous land mark, but you can add cycle tracks and small pathways. The changes can then be user reviewed before they officially become part of Google Maps.

Submission + - Wikipedia Denies DMCA Take-Down Request Because a Monkey Took the Selfie 1

An anonymous reader writes: Back in 2011, an English photographer went to Indonesia on a photography shoot and had his camera temporarily stolen by a black macaque monkey. While the camera was in its possession, the monkey took various pictures, including a selfie that went viral and landed on Wikimedia Commons under the public domain. The photographer insisted that he owns the copyright and filed a DMCA take-down request, but Wikimedia denied the request, arguing, "To claim copyright, the photographer would have had to make substantial contributions to the final image, and even then, they'd only have copyright for those alterations, not the underlying image. This means that there was no one on whom to bestow copyright, so the image falls into the public domain." Wikimedia's rejection of the monkey selfie DMCA take-down request is recorded in its first ever transparency report issued on Wednesday.

Submission + - Elon Musk expects the Spanish Inquisition (

Doofus writes: Business Insider is running an article this morning about Elon Musk's fears of an AI-powered apocalypse. For a technology expert and inventor with Musk's credentials, explaining fears of technology may seem a bit incongruous. In a transcript of a CNBC interview with Elon Musk, the question of Musk's investment in an AI development firm came up, and he explains his reasoning for investing in the firm.

I was also an investor in DeepMind before Google acquired it and Vicarious. Mostly I sort of – it's not from the standpoint of actually trying to make any investment return. It's really, I like to just keep an eye on what's going on with artificial intelligence. I think there is potentially a dangerous outcome there and we need to –

Musk goes on to explain a bit more about his concerns and references Monty Python as he does it.

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