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Submission + - SPAM: Quicken Bill Pay is No Longer Safe to Use 1

Bruce Perens writes: I don't usually make security calls, but when a company makes egregious and really clueless security mistakes, it's often the case that the only way to attract their attention and get the issue fixed is to publicize it. This one is with Quicken Bill Pay, a product of Metavante (not Intuit). It's from personal observation rather than an expert witness case, and the company has been unresponsive through their customer support channel.
Link to Original Source

Comment Abandoning Time-Worn Processes Leads to Atrophy (Score 5, Insightful) 158

Scientists determined that those people who made use of machine washing rather than hand washing had diminished hand strength and neurological motor communication necessary for fine motor control. Seamstresses who bought thread rather than using the spinning jenny were similarly impaired. But worst off were teamsters who used the internal combustion trucks rather than teams of horses and used forklifts and other mechanical devices rather than loading their vehicles by hand. Their overall body strength was much reduced.

Submission + - EFF needs your help to stop Congress dismantling Internet privacy protections! (eff.org)

Peter Eckersley writes: Last year the FCC passed rules forbidding ISPs (both mobile and landline) from using your personal data without your consent for purposes other than providing you Internet access. In other words, the rules prevent ISPs from turning your browsing history into a revenue stream to sell to marketers and advertisers. Unfortunately, members of Congress are scheming to dismantle those protections as early as this week. If they succeed, ISPs would be free to resume selling users' browsing histories, pre-loading phones with spyware, and generally doing all sorts of creepy things to your traffic.

The good news is, we can stop them. We especially need folks in the key states of Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to call their senators this week and tell them not to kill the FCC's Broadband Privacy Rules.

Together, we can stop Congress from undermining these crucial privacy protections.

Submission + - Slashdot poll: Should Pluto be restored to it's status as a planet?

BarbaraHudson writes: With the issue of Pluto's status as a planet coming up for debate at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas, how would you vote?

1. Pluto is a planet
2. Pluto was never a planet
3. Pluto is a dog and I'm boycotting Disney
4. Are you Sirius?
5. Sure, and let's upgrade he earth and moon as a binary planet system
6. Who cares, as long as we can declare war against it to increase defense spending
7. Who cares, there's no oil there
8. Cowboyneal says "I hear there might be oil there. We need more money for NASA".

Submission + - Firefox 52 forces pulseaudio, dev claims that telemetry is essential (mozilla.org) 3

jbernardo writes: While trying to justify breaking audio on firefox for several linux users by making it depend on pulseaudio (and not even mentioning it in the release notes), Anthony Jones, who claims, among other proud achievements, to be "responsible for bringing Widevine DRM to Linux, Windows and Mac OSX", informs users that disabling telemetry will have consequences — "Telemetry informs our decisions. Turning it off is not without disadvantage."
The latest one is, as documented on the mentioned bug, that firefox no long has audio unless you have pulseaudio installed. Many bug reporters suggest that firefox telemetry is disabled by default on many distributions, and also that power users, who are the ones more likely to remove pulseaudio, are also the ones more likely to disable telemetry.
As for the pulseaudio dependence, apparently there was a "public" discussion on google groups, and it can be seen that the decision was indeed based on telemetry.
So, if for any reason you still use firefox, and want to have some hope it won't be broken for you in the future, enable all the spyware/telemetry.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: How to Teach Generic Engineers Coding, Networking, and Computing?

davegravy writes: I work at a small but quickly growing acoustic consulting engineering firm, consisting of a mix of mechanical, electrical, civil, and other engineering backgrounds. When I joined almost 10 years ago I was in good company with peers who were very computer literate — able to develop their own complex excel macros, be their own IT tech support, diagnose issues communicating with or operating instrumentation, and generally dive into any technology-related problem to help themselves.

In 2017 these skills and tendencies are more essential than they were 10 years ago; our instruments run on modern OS's and are network/internet-capable, the heavy data processing and analysis we need to do is python-based (scipy, numpy) and runs on AWS EC2 instances, and some projects require engineers to interface various data-acquisition hardware and software together in unique ways. The younger generation, while bright in their respective engineering disciplines, seems to rely on senior staff to a concerning degree when it comes to tech challenges, and we're stuck in a situation where we've provided procedures to get results but inevitably the procedures don't cover the vast array of scenarios faced day-to-day. Being a small company we don't have dedicated IT specialists.

I believe I gathered my skills and knowledge through insatiable curiosity of all things technology as a child, self-teaching things like Pascal, building and experimenting with my own home LAN, and assembling computers from discrete components. Technology was a fringe thing back then, which I think drew me in. I doubt I'd be nearly as curious about it growing up today given its ubiquity, so I sort of understand why interest might be less common in today's youth.

How do we instill a desire to learn the fundamentals of networking, computing, and coding, so that the younger generation can be self-sufficient and confident working with the modern technology and tools they need to perform — and be innovative in — their jobs?

I believe that the most effective learning occurs when there's a clearly useful purpose or application, so I'm hesitant to build a training program that consists solely of throwing some online courses at staff. That said, online courses may be a good place to get some background that can be built upon, however most that I've come across are intended for people pursuing careers in computer science, web development, software engineering, etc. Are there any good resources that approach these topics from a more general purpose angle?

Submission + - James Comey: "There is no such thing as absolute privacy in America" (cnn.com) 1

Bob the Super Hamste writes: Last week, pretty recent by /. standards, FBI Director James Comey at the Boston College conference on cybersecurity stated:

While that quote in the article is taken out of context it is even more disturbing when taken in context. The included video puts the quote in context where Comey is arguing against widespread access to strong encryption with the public. There are other quotes included as well that are just as disturbing such as:

Even our communications with our spouses, with our clergy members, with our attorneys are not absolutely private in America... ...In appropriate circumstances, a judge can compel any one of us to testify in court about those very private communications.

Is this the "adult conversation" on encryption he was getting ready for last year.

Submission + - Spy agency, DOE, are very worried about China's supercomputing advances (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: Advanced computing experts at the National Security Agency and the Department of Energy are warning that China is "extremely likely" to take leadership in supercomputing as early as 2020, unless the U.S. acts quickly to increase spending. China's supercomputing advances are not only putting national security at risk, but also U.S. leadership in high-tech manufacturing. If China succeeds, it may "undermine profitable parts of the U.S. economy," according to a report titled U.S. Leadership in High Performance Computing by HPC technical experts at the NSA, the DOE, the National Science Foundation and other agencies. The report stems from a workshop held in September that was attended by 60 people, many scientists, 40 of whom work in government, with the balance representing industry and academia. Meeting participants, especially those from industry, noted that it can be easy for Americans to draw the wrong conclusions about what HPC investments by China mean – without considering China's motivations," the report states. "These participants stressed that their personal interactions with Chinese researchers and at supercomputing centers showed a mindset where computing is first and foremost a strategic capability for improving the country; for pulling a billion people out of poverty; for supporting companies that are looking to build better products, or bridges, or rail networks; for transitioning away from a role as a low-cost manufacturer for the world; for enabling the economy to move from 'Made in China' to 'Made by China."

Submission + - Researchers Convert Biomass to Hydrogen Using Sunlight (rdmag.com)

omaha393 writes: Cambridge chemists have developed a new catalytic approach capable of converting biomass into hydrogen gas using only sunlight as an energy source. The method converts lignocellulose, one of Earth's most abundant biomaterials, into hydrogen gas and organic byproducts when in a basic water and in the presence of the cadmium sulfide/oxide nanoparticle catalysts.
        The new method, published in Nature Energy, offers a relatively cheap fuel alternative that researchers are looking to scale up to meet consumer demands at the industrial level. Per R&D Magazine: "'With this in place we can simply add organic matter to the system and then, provided it's a sunny day, produce hydrogen fuel', says joint lead author David Wakerley. 'Future development can be envisioned at any scale." In addition to lignocellulose, the team was also able to produce hydrogen gas using unprocessed material including wood, paper and leaves. Paper may be paywalled.

Comment Re:"Human Colleague"... Nope, You Just Don't Get I (Score 1) 407

Clarke did very little writing on robot brains.

Um, I'll have to assume that you weren't around for April, 1968, when the leading AI in popular culture for a long, long, time was introduced in a Kubrick and Clarke screenplay and what probably should have been attributed as a Clarke and Kubrick novel. And a key element of that screenplay was a priority conflict in the AI.

Comment Re:"Human Colleague"... Nope, You Just Don't Get I (Score 1) 407

Well, you've just given up the argument, and have basically agreed that strong AI is impossible

Not at all. Strong AI is not necessary to the argument. It is perfectly possible for an unconscious machine not considered "strong AI" to act upon Asimov's Laws. They're just rules for a program to act upon.

In addition, it is not necessary for Artificial General Intelligence to be conscious.

Mind is a phenomenon of healthy living brain and is seen no where else.

We have a lot to learn of consciousness yet. But what we have learned so far seems to indicate that consciousness is a story that the brain tells itself, and is not particularly related to how the brain actually works. Descartes self-referential attempt aside, it would be difficult for any of us to actually prove that we are conscious.

Submission + - There hasn't been Ad-blockers coverage for months, and that's bad news (google.com)

cloud.pt writes: Have you noticed no relevant media outlet is talking about ad-blockers anymore?

You probably haven't, and that's really what got me thinking. It's not like ads have all become "acceptable", not even close. And to my eyes, I haven't really noticed a decrease in ads overall — if anything, they have increased, and so has the practice of detecting them and forcing them out by making sites useless otherwise.

How far will it be until ad-blockers fall into oblivion? In a time where the main sources of information depend financially (and some even claim desperately) on the non-proliferation of ad-blocking, the first result to "ad-block news" search on Google dates back to September 2016 (an article by The Verge), and there doesn't seem to be anything newer on the following 10 results. Do note: this is a Google (ad-dependent) result outputting pageranked news outlet sites (also ad-dependent), so it can't really be discerned who is at fault here, but I doubt it is ad-block that is becoming irrelevant news material. Undesired sounds more likely.

But if that wasn't enough of a sign: even Slashdot articles are neglecting the subject. Looking up articles on "adblock" goes as far back as last year's August. Unless, of course, this one makes it to the top. If before you had to doubt most information about ad-blockers, now that no information is circulating, can you really trust news from these sources that discriminates with such a heavy bias?

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