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Submission + - FTC Dismantles Two Huge Robocall Organizations

Trailrunner7 writes: Continuing its campaign against phone fraud operations, the FTC has dismantled two major robocall organizations that the commission alleges were making hundreds of millions of calls over the course of several years to consumers who were on the Do Not Call registry.

The FTC filed complaints against two separate groups of defendants, the leaders of which have both been involved in previous legal actions for robocalling operations. The defendants each controlled several different corporate entities that were involved in selling home security systems, extended auto warranties, and other products through repeated automated phone calls. Many of the calls were to numbers on the DNC list, a violation of the telemarketing regulations.

The two main defendants in the complaints are Justin Ramsey and Aaron Michael Jones, and in separate actions, they and many of their co-defendants have agreed to court-ordered bans on robocall activities and financial settlements. The FTC alleges that Ramsey directed an operation that made millions of robocalls a month.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Are Headphone Cables Designed To Fail Within Weeks Of Purchase? 4

dryriver writes: I'm a heavy headphone user. It doesn't matter what headphones I buy — Sony, Philips, Logitech you name it — the headphones typically fail to work properly within a few weeks of purchase. It is never the headphones/earbuds themselves that fail. It is always the part of the headphone cable where the small wires connect to the almost indestructible 3.5mm metal headphone jack. Result? Either the left or right ear audio cuts out and you need new headphones. Putting 1/2 a cent worth of extra rubber/plastic/metal around that part of the cable to strengthen it would likely fix the problem very effectively. The headphones would last for a year or even longer. But almost no manufacturer seems to do this. I keep trying new models and brands, and they all have the same "cable goes bad" problem — earbuds that came with a Sony MP3 player I bought developed the problem within 15 minutes of first use. My question to Slashdot: Do headphone manufacturers do this deliberately? Do they think "We'll sell 40% more headphones each year if the average pair doesn't last beyond 3 months of normal use" and engineer a deliberate weakness into the headphone cable? How can these major brands with all their product engineers not be able to strengthen the most obviously failure-prone part of the headphone cable a bit?

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: What Is The Best Place To Suggest A New Open Source Software? 1

dryriver writes: Somebody I know has been searching up and down the internet for an open source software that can apply GPU pixel shaders (HLSL/GLSL/Cg/SweetFX) to a video and save the result out to a video file. He came up with nothing. So I said "Why not petition the open source community to create such a tool?" His reply was "Where exactly does one go to ask for a new open source software?" So that is my question: Where on the internet can one best go to request that a new open source software tool that does not exist yet be developed? Or do open source tools only come into existence when someone — a coder — starts to build a software, opens the source, and invites other coders to join the fray?

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Why Did 3D TVs And Stereoscopic 3D Television Broadcasting Fail? 2

dryriver writes: Just a few years ago the future seemed bright for 3D TVs. The 3D film Avatar smashed all box office records. Every Hollywood Studio wanted to make big 3D films. The major TV set manufacturers from LG to Phillips to Panasonic all wanted in on the 3D TV action. A 3D disc format called BluRay 3D was agreed on. Sony went as far as putting free 3D TVs in popular Pubs in London to show Brits how cool watching Football ("Soccer" in the U.S.) in Stereo 3D is. Tens of millions of dollars of 3D TV related ads ran on TV stations across the world. 3D Televisions and 3D content was, simply put, the biggest show in town for a while as far as consumer electronics goes. Then the whole circus gradually collapsed — 3D TVs failed to sell well and create the multi-Billion Dollar profits anticipated. 3D@home failed to catch on with consumers. Shooting genuine Stereo 3D films (not "post conversions") proved to be expensive and technically challenging. BluRay 3D was only modestly successful. Even Nvidia's Stereo 3D solutions for PC gamers failed. What, in your opinion, went wrong? Were early 3D TV sets too highly priced? Were there too few 3D films and 3D TV stations available to watch (aka "The Content Problem")? Did people hate wearing active/passive plastic 3D glasses in the living room? Was the price of BluRay 3D films and BluRay 3D players set too high? Was there something wrong with the Stereo 3D effect the industry tried to popularize? Did too many people suffer 3D viewing related "headaches", "dizzyness", "eyesight problems" and similar? Was the then still quite new 1080HD 2D Television simply "good enough" for the average TV viewer? Another related question: If things went so wrong with 3D TVs, what guarantee is there that the new 3D VR/AR trend won't collapse along similar lines as well?

 

Submission + - Intel Core i7-7700K Kaby Lake review: Is the desktop CPU dead? (arstechnica.co.uk)

joshtops writes: ArsTechnica has reviewed the much-anticipated Intel Core i7-7700K Kaby Lake, the recently launched desktop processor from the giant chipmaker. And it's anything but a good sign for enthusiasts who were hoping to see significant improvements in performance. From the review, "The Intel Core i7-7700K is what happens when a chip company stops trying. The i7-7700K is the first desktop Intel chip in brave new post-"tick-tock" world—which means that instead of major improvements to architecture, process, and instructions per clock (IPC), we get slightly higher clock speeds and a way to decode DRM-laden 4K streaming video. Huzzah. [sic] If you're still rocking an older Ivy Bridge or Haswell processor and weren't convinced to upgrade to Skylake, there's little reason to upgrade to Kaby Lake. Even Sandy Bridge users may want to consider other upgrades first, such as a new SSD or graphics card. The first Sandy Bridge parts were released six years ago, in January 2011. [sic] As it stands, what we have with Kaby Lake desktop is effectively Sandy Bridge polished to within an inch of its life, a once-groundbreaking CPU architecture hacked, and tweaked, and mangled into ever smaller manufacturing processes and power envelopes. Where the next major leap in desktop computing power comes from is still up for debate—but if Kaby Lake is any indication, it won't be coming from Intel.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Is Computing As Cool And Fun As It Once Was? 1

dryriver writes: I got together with old computer nerd friends the other day. All of us have been at it since the 8-bit / 1980s days of Amstrad, Atari, Commodore 64 type home computers. Everybody at the meeting agreed on one thing — computing is just not as cool and as much fun as it once was. One person lamented that computer games nowadays are tied to internet DRM like Steam, that some crucial DCC software is available to rent only now (e.g. Photoshop) and that many"basic freedoms" of the old-school computer nerd are increasingly disappearing. Another said that Windows 10's spyware aspects made him give up on his beloved PC platform and that he will use Linux and Android devices only from now on, using consoles to game on instead of a PC because of this. A third complained about zero privacy online, internet advertising, viruses, ransomware, hacking, crapware. I lamented that the hardware industry still hasn't given us anything resembling photorealistic realtime 3D graphics, and that the current VR trend arrived a full decade later than it should have. A point of general agreement was that big tech companies in particular don't treat computer users with enough respect anymore. What do Slashdotters think? Is computing still as cool and fun as it once was, or has something "become irreversibly lost" as computing evolved into a multi billion dollar global business?

Submission + - Carrie Fisher passes away (people.com) 1

wiggles writes: “It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning,”

Submission + - Carrie Fisher dead at 60 (pagesix.com)

An anonymous reader writes: “Star Wars” actress Carrie Fisher died Tuesday after suffering a heart attack last week, her family said.

Submission + - Navy Coded Sea Animal Sounds for Communications

An anonymous reader writes: A 1980 report on the U.S. Government project called Project COMBO to study the use of coded marine animal sounds for covert underwater communication systems has just been declassified by ISCAP, a federal declassification appeals panel, overruling a previous Navy Department decision. The concept originated in 1949, and collection and analysis of sounds began in 1965. In 1970, DARPA sponsored analysis and duplication of sonogram patters of collected marine mammal sounds, and the Navy sponsored efforts to study communications applications. Project COMBO developed a coding technique that uses temporal and frequency patterns to convey messages, and recognizer/decoder equipment. Lab and sea tests used demonstration messages based on coded pilot whale sounds; the messages were received correctly underwater out to 50 nautical miles.

Submission + - Facing layoff at Carnival, IT employee makes bold counteroffer (computerworld.com) 1

dcblogs writes: In early December, Carnival Corp. told about 200 IT employees that the company was transferring their work to Capgemini, a large IT outsourcing firm. The employees had a choice: Either agree to take a job with the contractor or leave without severance. The employees had until the week before Christmas to make a decision about their future with the cruise line. By agreeing to a job with Paris-based Capgemini, employees are guaranteed employment for six months, said Roger Frizzell, a Carnival spokesman. "Our expectation is that many will continue to work on our account or placed into other open positions within Capgemini" that go well beyond the six-month period, he said in an email. But one employee isn't buying any of it. After receiving his offer letter from Capgemini, he sent a counteroffer. It asked for a $500,000 letters and apology letters to all the affected families.

Submission + - It's not you, Slashdot, it's me. 5

BuckB writes: When I was a young man, I read Slashdot in order to amaze my friends with useful facts. It was even my homepage for awhile. Sure, there was time when I cheated and went to cnet or wired. With Slashdot, I could count on high quality debate on controversial topics, even though I knew in my heart that most of the readers were Apple fans, while I am a closeted Microsofterian. Now the stories are mainly non-tech — no, that's the real reason — the stories are now mainly fake or click-bait or alarmist, and the discussions are completely uninformed, insulting, to the point of being indistinguishable from an MSNBC forum.

I'll still remember you fondly. And I'll check back now and then. You'll do fine without me, find more people who enjoy insulting contributions and upvoting rumors and gossip. But maybe, just maybe, you'll think back to when you were a leader and attracted the kinds of people like me.

Submission + - RIP Dr. Henry Heimlich, inventor of the Heimlich Maneuver

tomhath writes: Dr Heimlich died at the age of 96. He invented the lifesaving technique, which uses abdominal thrusts to clear a person's airway, in 1974.

In May he used the technique himself to save a woman at his retirement home.

He dislodged a piece of meat with a bone in it from the airway of an 87-year-old woman, telling the BBC: "I didn't know I really could do it until the other day."

Submission + - Malware Found in the Firmware of 26 Low-Cost Android Models (bleepingcomputer.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Security researchers have found malware hidden in the firmware of several low-end Android smartphones and tablets, malware which is used to show ads and install unwanted apps on the devices of unsuspecting users. 26 Android device models have been found to be vulnerable. The common link between all these devices is that all are low-cost devices, mostly marketed in Russia, and which run on MediaTek chipsets.

According to security researchers from Dr.Web, a Russian antivirus vendor, the malware appears to have been added to the firmware by "dishonest outsourcers who took part in [the] creation of Android system images decided to make money on users." The security firm has informed MediaTek and the device vendors about this issue so the affected companies can inspect their distribution chain and find the possible culprits.

Submission + - The Music Industry Shouldn't Be Able To Cut Off Your Internet Access (eff.org)

waspleg writes: EFF, Public Knowledge, and the Center for Democracy and Technology Urge The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to Protect Internet Subscribers in BMG v. Cox. Two landmark Supreme Court cases, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., and Sony Corp. of America v. Universal Studios made clear that if a service is capable of significant lawful uses, and the provider doesn’t actively encourage users to commit copyright infringement, the provider shouldn’t be held responsible when someone nonetheless uses the service unlawfully.

Submission + - Disney IT workers, in lawsuit, claim discrimination against Americans (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: After Disney IT workers were told in October 2014 of the plan to use offshore outsourcing firms, employees said the workplace changed. The number of South Asian workers in Disney technology buildings increased, and some workers had to train H-1B-visa-holding replacements. Approximately 250 IT workers were laid off in January 2015. Now 30 of these employees filed a lawsuit on Monday in U.S. District Court in Orlando, alleging discrimination on the basis of national origin and race. The Disney IT employees, said Sara Blackwell, a Florida labor attorney who is representing this group, "lost their jobs when their jobs were outsourced to contracting companies. And those companies brought in mostly, or virtually all, non-American national origin workers," she said. The lawsuit alleges that Disney terminated the employment of the plaintiffs "based solely on their national origin and race, replacing them with Indian nationals."

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