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Submission + - NASA Is Making New Robots That Can Control Themselves (vice.com)

An anonymous reader writes: NASA wants humans and robots to work together as teams. To ensure that, the space agency’s autonomous robotics group is currently developing new technology to improve how humans explore the solar system, and how robots can help. When NASA began working with remotely operated robots several years ago, Fong said the scientists needed a piece of software that would allow them to look at terrain and sensor data coming from autonomous robots. That led to the creation of VERVE, a "3D robot user interface," which allows scientists to see and grasp the three-dimensional world of remotely operated robots. VERVE has been used with NASA's K10 planetary rovers (a prototype mobile robot that can travel bumpy terrain), with its K-Rex planetary rovers (robot to determine soil moisture), with SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites) on the International Space Station (ISS), and with the new robot Astrobee (a robot that can fly around the ISS). In 2013, NASA carried out a series of tests with astronauts on the ISS, during which astronauts who were flying 200 miles above Earth remotely operated the K10 planetary rover in California. Because of time delay, astronauts can't just "joystick a robot," said Maria Bualat, deputy lead of intelligent robotics group at the NASA Ames Research Center. "You need a robot that can operate on its own, complete tasks on its own," she said. "On the other hand, you still want the human in the loop, because the human brings a lot of experience and very powerful cognitive ability that can deal with issues that the autonomy's not quite ready to handle." That's why, according to NASA, human capabilities and robotic capabilities comprise a powerful combination.

Submission + - Free Software Foundation shakes up its list of priority projects

alphadogg writes: The Free Software Foundation Tuesday announced a major rethinking of the software projects that it supports, putting top priority on a free mobile operating system, accessibility, and driver development, among other areas. The foundation has maintained the High Priority Projects list since 2005, when it contained just four free software projects. Today’s version https://www.fsf.org/campaigns/... mostly identifies priority areas, along with a few specific projects in key areas

Submission + - After MuckRock FOIA suit, CIA puts declassified database online (muckrock.com)

v3rgEz writes: For the first time ever, the CIA has posted its database of declassified documents online for anyone to view. The publication of the approximately 12 million pages of historical documents was in response to a lawsuit by FOIA site MuckRock, which had won a court order for the documents to be put on the Internet. Previously, the documents had been technically public, but only accessible to those willing to drive to a few federal facilities, where usage was closely monitored via CCTV. You can search the database here.

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 + - Hackers Lovin' It As McDonald's Site Vulnerable To Phishing Attack

Mickeycaskill writes: McDonalds’ main website is putting customer data including names, addresses, contact details and passwords at risk as a flaw is leaving it vulnerable to phishing attacks, according to Dutch software engineer Tijme Gommers.

A reflected server cross-site-scripting vulnerability means it is possible for hackers to steal and decrypt the passwords and personal information of users who sign up for the McDonald’s newsletter.

Gommers says he tried to contact McDonald’s several times, but decided to ignore the customary 30-day grace period and disclose the vulnerability after failing to receive a reply from the company.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Distributed file sharing 1

DeathToBill writes: I'm a software engineer, and so also the guy who knows stuff about IT, in a company with five employees. All five are based in different cities on two continents. So far, we've used Dropbox for file sharing. The main drawbacks are the cost (£108 per year per user) for still-limited storage space, not-terribly-good collaborative editing, limited version history and very coarse permissions (top-level folder controls only). I'm looking into other solutions, but am finding it difficult to get a feel for how well different solutions actually work. We really like Google Docs' collaborative editing, but we'd like to still be able to use MS Office as users are familiar with it. As well as documents, spreadsheets and presentations, we also need to be able to share engineering outputs such as CAD drawings, schematics, PCB layouts and so on. Most of our work happens on Windows, but a couple of us (mostly me) switch back and forward to Ubuntu for some jobs, so a Linux client would be very useful (even if Office documents aren't editable there). We need some sort of permission control, preferably reasonably find-grained but easy enough for non-technical people to set permissions. At the moment we're getting by with a few GB, but that's becoming a struggle. Most of our users are usually connected, but offline access is occasionally important. We're currently using hosted services, but are happy to host our own if it makes it better or cheaper. What does Slashdot recommend? Is there something great out there that solves all of these?

Submission + - Congress Will Consider Proposal To Raise H-1B Minimum Wage To $100,000 (arstechnica.com)

An anonymous reader writes: President-elect Donald Trump is just a week away from taking office. From the start of his campaign, he has promised big changes to the US immigration system. For both Trump's advisers and members of Congress, the H-1B visa program, which allows many foreign workers to fill technology jobs, is a particular focus. One major change to that system is already under discussion: making it harder for companies to use H-1B workers to replace Americans by simply giving the foreign workers a raise. The "Protect and Grow American Jobs Act," introduced last week by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. and Scott Peters, D-Calif., would significantly raise the wages of workers who get H-1B visas. If the bill becomes law, the minimum wage paid to H-1B workers would rise to at least $100,000 annually, and be adjusted it for inflation. Right now, the minimum is $60,000. The sponsors say that would go a long way toward fixing some of the abuses of the H-1B program, which critics say is currently used to simply replace American workers with cheaper, foreign workers. In 2013, the top nine companies acquiring H-1B visas were technology outsourcing firms, according to an analysis by a critic of the H-1B program. (The 10th is Microsoft.) The thinking goes that if minimum H-1B salaries are brought closer to what high-skilled tech employment really pays, the economic incentive to use it as a worker-replacement program will drop off. "We need to ensure we can retain the world’s best and brightest talent," said Issa in a statement about the bill. "At the same time, we also need to make sure programs are not abused to allow companies to outsource and hire cheap foreign labor from abroad to replace American workers." The H-1B program offers 65,000 visas each fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 reserved for foreign workers who have advanced degrees from US colleges and universities. The visas are awarded by lottery each year. Last year, the government received more than 236,000 applications for those visas.

Submission + - Trump's cyber-guru Giuliani runs ancient, utterly hackable website (theregister.co.uk)

mask.of.sanity writes: US president-elect Donald Trump's freshly minted cyber tsar Rudy Giuliani runs a website so insecure that its content management system is five years out of date, unpatched and is utterly hackable.
Giulianisecurity.com the website for Giuliani's eponymous infosec consultancy firm, runs Joomla! version 3.0, released in 2012, and since found to carry 15 separate vulnerabilities. More bugs and poor secure controls abound.

Submission + - Days before Trump takes office, Obama expands surveillance powers (zdnet.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Activists asked President Obama to limit the government's surveillance powers before Trump takes office.

Instead, the outgoing president expanded them.

The outgoing government will now allow the National Security Agency (NSA) to share raw globally intercepted personal data with the government's other intelligence agencies.

It's said that the rule changes will make it easier for the government to spot and prevent potential terrorist attacks before they happen, at the expense of the privacy of millions of Americans, whose data may be collected in the surveillance dragnet.

Submission + - What is the best way to thank users for reporting security issues?

An anonymous reader writes: I have worked in the IT field long enough to know that many issues can be avoided if users pay attention to popups, security alerts, 'from' addresses et al and not just machine gun click their way through things. Unfortunately most users seem to have the 'fuck it' mentality in terms of good security practices. Sometimes I will have users submit a ticket asking if an email is safe to open or if that strange 800 number that popped up in their browser is really Microsoft. When that happens I like to talk to them in person (when possible) to commend them and tell them how much trouble could be avoided if more users followed their example. I'm curious to know if anyone has ever worked somewhere with bug bounty type incentives for corporate users or if you have a unique way of thanking people for not trying to open Urgent_Invoice.exe.

Submission + - President Obama Signs Legislation Establishing Information Control Agency

stephenmac7 writes: President Obama has recently signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which "authorizes FY2017 appropriations and sets forth policies regarding the military activities of the Department of Defense (DOD), military construction, and the national security programs of the Department of Energy (DOE)." Perhaps more notably, it establishes a new Department of State agency, the Global Engagement Center, that some claim may be the beginning of an Orwellian propaganda agency. Its task is to “understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation aimed at undermining United States national security interests" and support “the development and dissemination of fact-based narratives and analysis to counter propaganda and disinformation directed at the United States and” its partners and allies. It is also authorized to gather information from intelligence agencies and financially support various groups, apparently of its own choosing, including “civil society groups, media content providers, nongovernmental organizations, federally funded research and development centers, private companies, or academic institutions.”

Submission + - Buh-bye, H-1B's 1

DogDude writes: From the Washington Post: Trump and Sessions plan to restrict highly skilled foreign workers. Hyderabad says to bring it on.
"Trump has described H-1Bs as a “cheap labor program” subject to “widespread, rampant” abuse. Sessions co-sponsored legislation last year with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) to effectively gut the program; Issa, a congressman with Trump’s ear, released a statement Wednesday saying he was reintroducing similar legislation called the Protect and Grow American Jobs Act."

Submission + - US Federal Trade Commission sues D-Link for having terrible security (betanews.com)

Mark Wilson writes: D-Link is facing a lawsuit brought against it by the US Federal Trade Commission for the poor security of its routers and connected cameras. The FTC says the company failed to take reasonable steps to protect users from hackers.

The FTC is seeking to improve the security of all IoT (internet of things) devices in the wake of compromised devices being used to launch high-profile DDoS attacks such as Marai and Leet Botnet. D-Link argues that the charges brought against it are "unwarranted and baseless" and plans to "vigorously defend itself".

The Taiwanese company says that the FTC "fails to allege, as it must, that actual consumers suffered or are likely to suffer actual substantial injuries".

Submission + - Possibly fatal blow against a patent trolls. (computerworld.com)

whoever57 writes: Patent trolls rely on the fact that they have no assets and, if they lose a case, they can fold the company that owned the patent and sued, thus avoiding paying any the defendant's legal bills. However, in a recent case, the judge has told the winning defendant that it can claim its legal bills from the law firm. The decision is based on the plaintiff's law firm using a contract under which it would take a portion of any judgment, making it more than just counsel, but instead a partner with the plaintiff. This will likely result in law firms wanting to be paid up front, instead of offering a contingency-based fee.

Submission + - AMD Unveils Vega GPU Architecture With 512 Terabytes Of Memory Address Space (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: AMD lifted the veil on its next generation GPU architecture, code named Vega this morning. One of the underlying forces behind Vega's design is that conventional GPU architectures have not been scaling well for diverse data types. Gaming and graphics workloads have shown steady progress, but today GPUs are used for much more than just graphics. In addition, the compute capability of GPUs may have been increasing at a good pace, but memory capacity has not kept up. Vega aims to improve both compute performance and addressable memory capacity, however, through some new technologies not available on any previous-gen architecture. First, is that Vega has the most scalable GPU memory architecture built to date with 512TB of address space. It also has a new geometry pipeline tuned for more performance and better efficiency with over 2X peak throughput per clock, a new Compute Unit design, and a revamped pixel engine. The pixel engine features a new Draw Stream Binning Rasterizer, which reportedly improves performance and saves power. All told, Vega should offer significant improvements in terms of performance and efficiency when products based on the architecture begin shipping in a few months.

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