Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


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Submission + - Light Sail propulsion could reach Sirius sooner than Alpha Centauri (

RockDoctor writes: A recent proposition to launch probes to other star systems driven by lasers which remain in the Solar system has garnered considerable attention. But recently published work suggests that there are unexpected complexities to the system.

One would think that the closest star systems would be the easiest to reach. But unless you are content with a fly-by examination of the star system, with much reduced science returns, you will need to decelerate the probe at the far end, without any infrastructure to assist with the braking.

By combining both light-pressure braking and gravitational slingshots, a team of German, French and Chilean astronomers discover that the brightness of the destination star can significantly increase deceleration, and thus travel time (because higher flight velocities can be used. Sling-shotting around a companion star to lengthen deceleration times can help shed flight velocity to allow capture into a stable orbit.

The 4.37 light year distant binary stars Alpha Centauri A and B could be reached in 75 years from Earth. Covering the 0.24 light year distance to Proxima Centauri depends on arriving at the correct relative orientations of Alpha Centauri A and B in their mutual 80 year orbit for the sling shot to work. Without a companion star, Proxima Centauri can only absorb a final leg velocity of about 1280km/s, so that leg of the trip would take an additional 46 years.

Using the same performance characteristics for the light sail the corresponding duration for an approach to the Sirius system, almost twice as far away (8.58ly), is a mere 68.9 years, making it (and it's white dwarf companion) possibly a more attractive target.

Of course, none of this addresses the question of how to get any data from there to here. Or, indeed, how to manage a project that will last longer than a working lifetime. There are also issues of aiming — the motion of the Alpha Centauri system isn't well-enough known at the moment to achieve the precise manoeuvring needed without course corrections (and so, data transmission from there to here) en route.

Submission + - SPAM: New Moto Mods on the way

kiwix writes: Motorola is working with makers to bring new mods to the modular Moto Z family. After the Transform the smartphone challenge, they have selected a few mods that will receive funding and support, including an e-paper secondary screen and a solar charger.

My personal favorite is the slider keyboard, ideal for writing long emails, or hacking on the go. The projects are also looking for crowdfunding on Indigogo, so support them if you like those ideas!

Engadget reports:

In its continuing bid to stay relevant in a competitive market, Motorola is trying to build up a community of hardware designers for the Moto Z's modular add-ons. Yesterday, the company brought together several winners of regional hackathons to a pitch event in Chicago, hoping to find the best of these innovative, indie creations. The judging panel — which includes execs from Lenovo and Verizon — selected two teams for up to $1 million in investment funding from Lenovo Capital, as well as eventual distribution by Verizon.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: Latest Leaked WikiLeaks Reveals How the CIA Collapse Apple Products

An anonymous reader writes: WikiLeaks document to re-issue a new leak on Thursday. According to the latest documents that disclosed non-profit institutions leaker confidential data, the United States Intelligence Agency (CIA) has developed tools to break into Apple products, like the iPhone and MacBook.

The document describes the CIA attempt to hack some device that had been considered impenetrable. They use methods of hacking to access the product directly. Since it was developed in 2009 and 2013, the device was no possibility of infecting the latest Apple devices.

In a news conference, WikiLeaks revealed that the CIA had access to Apple products to sabotage their shipments (opened, infects, and sends back) will come out or into the United States.

However, CNET were not able to verify the authenticity of documents related to this. As of March, the CIA again declined to comment on the authenticity of the document. At that time, WikiLeaks disseminate information about the kinds of devices that hackers can attack the operating system from a variety of popular devices, including the Samsung SmartTV that require physical access to his hack.

"It is the duty of the CIA to be the most innovative, advanced and forward-thinking in order to protect the country from threats that come," said CIA. "Americans deserve it."

Apple states that employees vulnerable infected is a type of 3G in the iPhone series, which was launched in 2009. While the Mac series, cracks vulnerable have been addressed to any device that is released after the year 2013.

"We will never negotiate with WikiLeaks for any information," said Apple. "We have given instructions to keep them informed of any information through a standard procedure that we've applied. So far we have received no information that is not public domain. "

The device targeted Apple firmware, which is software that play a role in fundamental processes. One of the devices that were outlined in the CIA document was "Sonic Screwdriver" that can infect MacBook firmware via the Thunderbolt port.

Processes for its outbreak using the same loophole to the problems described by security researcher Trammel Hudson in 2015. They developed a hacking tool called "Thunderstrike 2" that infects Macbook firmware through the Thunderbolt port is a new gap anticipated Apple in 2015.

Another device described is used to infect Apple is a cache that could infect iPhones in 2008, according to Wikileaks exposure. They noted that these devices have been developed up to version 1.2. "The CIA has plagued the supply chain iPhones since 2008," said Wikileaks.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Major game publishers target memory scanner Cheat Engine (

An anonymous reader writes: Major video game publishers are targeting the open source memory scanner, hex editor and debugger Cheat Engine with copyright infringement notices. The notices sent by the Entertainment Software Association claim the tool infringes on their members' copyright.

The open source software has been around for nearly two decades and is used by many to analyze the memory space used by other pieces of software running on the same machine.

The piece of software is especially popular in the video games industry where it is used by modders, cheaters and other enthusiasts to search for information that can be used to create independent pieces of software that can change the functionality of games.

Submission + - SPAM: Spark Energy Corporation Review - Consumer Alert New York State

carmecote08 writes: It has come to our attention that Spark Energy’s brand is being misrepresented, and consumers in New York state state are receiving calls from a third party (or parties) that are not authorized agents of our company. We take our company brand and reputation very seriously, and we are investigating this matter thoroughly. Any assistance consumers contacted by these agents can provide is greatly appreciated, including:

Name of the caller
Name on the Caller ID
Number on the Caller ID
Date and time of the call

We want to take this time to remind consumers that Spark Energy does not request the following information to process a customer enrollment over the phone in New York State, and we urge them not to provide any personal information of this sort: social security number; driver’s license number; home address. If you have been called by someone claiming to be with Spark Energy who requested this type of information, we urge you to contact one of the three (3) credit bureaus to review your credit report for any unusual activity and to request a fraud alert.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this has caused, and look forward to clarifying this matter as soon as possible so that we can continue to provide New York residents with choice when it comes to their electricity and natural gas needs.

If you have information regarding this matter, please contact us at 1.877.547.7275 or

About Spark Energy Information

Spark Energy, L.P. is a Houston-based, independent, multi-state certified retail energy and natural gas supplier. With more than a decade of experience, the company works to consistently deliver low-cost energy rates, quality products and superior customer service to hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers across 16 states. Spark Energy is dedicated to positively impacting the communities it serves by building relationships, inspiring philanthropy and promoting good will both inside the company and throughout the community. For more information, visit [spam URL stripped].

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Those IRS Scam Calls May Soon Disappear

Trailrunner7 writes: The FCC has moved one step closer to implementing a system that would prevent robocalls that spoof the caller ID of numbers that don’t initiate outbound calls, a move that could significantly reduce the volume of scam calls reaching businesses and consumers.

The commission on Thursday issued a notice that seems public comment on the concept of a Do Not Originate list, which would establish a set of phone numbers that never are used to initiate calls. This would help prevent fraudsters from spoofing the caller IDs of numbers owned by organizations such as the IRS, FBI, banks, and charities, a tactic that they use regularly to make their phone fraud schemes seem more plausible. The policy would allow carriers to block calls from numbers on the DNO list, something that they’re not allowed to do under FCC rules right now.

The proposal is an outgrowth of work done by the Robocall Strike Force, a group that the FCC and a number of carriers established last year in an effort to find answers to the robocall problem. The group has come up with a number of ideas, but the one that has the best potential to have an immediate effect is the DNO list. A trial of the DNO list concept last fall produced a 90 percent decrease in the number of IRS scam calls. Now, the commission is looking to allow carriers to implement this system on a permanent basis.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: How Does The Current Music Market Really Work? 3

dryriver writes: If you go on Youtube and search for talented bands that were big in the 90s or early 2000s you often make a startling discovery: Band X from those days is still making music and they have actually just released a brand new 10 track studio album — except that you haven't heard a thing about it because nobody talks about it anywhere. Band X have shot a cool music video — which MTV isn't playing — for their latest released song. The song isn't bad at all and on Youtube it has... drumroll... a whopping 2 — 3 million views 1 year after it was released. Currently popular music videos have 200+ million views per song by comparison. How does the current music market, which seems to revolve around the same 20 — 30 popular artists, work well if bands that are little older, but still write and perform good material, have no chance at all of getting noticed by anyone currently listening to music? Should a major video hub like Youtube do something to its "suggestion algorithm" and "site design" to give older musical acts a fairer shot at becoming relevant once more?

Submission + - French entrepreneur inventor of Flyboard threatened to jail (

An anonymous reader writes: Entrepreneur Franky Zapata has been threathend by french prosecutor to be jailed if he flew one more time his Flyboard prototype. The 17 person startup was summed to immediately stop it's activities or face jail. The prototype is somewhat revolutionnary in the sense that it allows one man to fly alone in the air. The entrepreneur said he refused funding from the US military amongst others. It's another sad day for french tech entrepreneurship. French entrepreneurs are unfortunate victims of constant witch hunts... So sad for innovation :(

Submission + - The rise and rise of Eternal September, fake news and the devolution of trolls (

Martin S. writes: Eternal Eeptember largely predicted the ghettoisation of the internet that is prevalent today, but not its own obscurity, an egregious oversight in hindsight.

Today Sir Tim Berners-Lee has unveiled plans to tackle some of the internets problems, including "unethical" political advertising and the harvesting of data through his Web Foundation.

1) We’ve lost control of our personal data
2) It’s too easy for misinformation to spread on the web
3) Political advertising online needs transparency and understanding

His plans could be considered somewhat naive, they do not address the corporatisation of the internet and they hope to curb rather than harness human nature. I'm wondering what slashdotter would consider to be a solution, or perhaps why a solution is not even necessary.

Submission + - FBI Has 1,200 Devices It Cannot Decrypt (

msm1267 writes: FBI Director James Comey resurrected the Going Dark debate over strong encryption Wednesday at a cybersecurity conference at Boston College. Comey said the bureau has 1,200 devices it cannot decrypt that were seized at the end of last year; the director used this data point as an illustration of how secure messaging apps and strong encryption hamper criminal and national security investigations.

Comey said it was time for an "adult conversation" about strong encryption, and said that secure apps such as Signal and WhatsApp that offer end-to-end encryption are now default tools for criminals such as drug dealers and pedophiles, whereas prior to the Snowden leak, they were almost exclusively the purview of nation-state actors.

Submission + - White House Supports Renewal of Spy Law Without Reforms (

An anonymous reader writes: The Trump administration does not want to reform an internet surveillance law to address privacy concerns, a White House official told Reuters on Wednesday, saying it is needed to protect national security. The announcement could put President Donald Trump on a collision course with Congress, where some Republicans and Democrats have advocated curtailing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, parts of which are due to expire at the end of the year. The FISA law has been criticized by privacy and civil liberties advocates as allowing broad, intrusive spying. It gained renewed attention following the 2013 disclosures by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that the agency carried out widespread monitoring of emails and other electronic communications. Portions of the law, including a provision known as Section 702, will expire on Dec. 31 unless Congress reauthorizes them. Section 702 enables two internet surveillance programs called Prism and Upstream, classified details of which were revealed by Snowden. Democratic and Republican lawmakers have said reforms to Section 702 are needed, in part to ensure the privacy protections on Americans are not violated. The U.S. House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee met Wednesday to discuss possible changes to the law.

Submission + - Network Strings for Linux v0.20 Available (

jjrff writes: NetSTR is an open source small, fast and easy to use port scanner and packet sniffer. IPv4 scanner can perform ranged, single or use an internal top ports list plus it has a flexible timers/port capability. IPv6 single port single host is supported. The tcp and arp sniffers print an easy to read dump format and have a full packet decode capability. Additionally netstr sports a fuzzy passive network scanner.

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