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Submission + - Linux Mint 18.1 'Serena' KDE Edition Beta is available for download now (betanews.com) 1

BrianFagioli writes: So what is new? The KDE Plasma 5.8 desktop environment is the star of the show — after all, if you do not want KDE, you wouldn't choose this version. The shipping Linux kernel is 4.4.0-53, which is surprisingly outdated. Ubuntu-based operating systems are never known for being bleeding-edge, however.

Submission + - Wikipedia celebrates its sixteenth birthday

Andreas Kolbe writes: Wikipedia is celebrating its sixteenth birthday. Since the site was first put online in January 2001, it's become everyone's go-to place for quick info. But people's reliance on Wikipedia has also spawned a new phenomenon: bogus information inserted in Wikipedia spreads all over the world. The Register has documented examples of this – newspapers and academics repeating fake names and alternative histories inserted in Wikipedia, corrupting the historical record. Wikipedia users, above all journalists and academic writers, need to understand the limitations of Wikipedia's anonymous crowdsourcing process and learn how to distinguish trustworthy and untrustworthy information in Wikipedia.

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 + - SPAM: It Can Power a Small Nation. But This Wind Farm in China Is Mostly Idle.

schnell writes: The New York Times reports on a massive wind farm in remote Gansu province that boasts more than 7,000 wind turbines but whose capacity goes more than 60% unused. The wind farm epitomizes China's struggles in its efforts to become a world renewable energy leader: the Chinese economy is slumping, leading to decreased energy demand; the country lacks the infrastructure to haul power from remote wind-producing regions to industrial centers; and government policies continue to favor the domestic coal industry. China has 92,000 wind turbines, more than double the US's capacity, but China generates only 3.3% of its electricity from wind compared to 4.7% in the United States.

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 + - Hamas 'Honey Trap' Dupes Israeli Soldiers (securityweek.com)

wiredmikey writes: The smartphones of dozens of Israeli soldiers were hacked by Hamas militants pretending to be attractive young women online, an Israeli military official said Wednesday. Using fake profiles on Facebook with alluring photos, Hamas members contacted the soldiers via groups on the social network, luring them into long chats, the official told journalists on condition of anonymity.

Dozens of the predominantly lower-ranked soldiers were convinced enough by the honey trap to download fake applications which enabled Hamas to take control of their phones, according to the official.

Submission + - Researchers warn of fingerprint theft from V sign (japantimes.co.jp)

AmiMoJo writes: The V sign, made by holding up two parted fingers and commonly called the peace sign in Japan, may allow fingerprints to be copied from photographs, researchers warn. Research by a team at Japan’s National Institute of Informatics (NII) were able to copy fingerprints based on photos taken by a digital camera three meters away from the subject.

Submission + - Latest Adobe Acrobat Reader Update Silently Installs Chrome Extension (bleepingcomputer.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: The latest Adobe Acrobat Reader security update (v15.023.20053), besides delivering security updates, also secretly installs the Adobe Acrobat extension in the user's Chrome browser.

There is no mention of this "special package" on Acrobat's changelog, and surprise-surprise, the extension comes with anonymous data collection turned on by default.

Submission + - SUSE is working on a container operating system called Micro OS (thenewstack.io)

sfcrazy writes: In an interview, SUSE’s new CTO, Dr. Thomas Di Giacomo told The New Stack that there are many customers who are running legacy systems but they want to migrate to modern technologies over time. Today, if you want to start from scratch, you will start with containers. “We want to make sure that companies that have legacy infrastructure and legacy applications can move to modern technologies, where container as a service is offered through that OS itself,” said “Dr. T” (as he is known in SUSE circles). That’s what CaaSP with MicroOS is being designed to do.

Micro OS will offer transactional updates similar to Core OS, where users can roll back to older version if something fails. The big difference is that it use BTRFS snapshots to achieve that.

Submission + - Razer offers $25,000 reward to capture triple-screen laptop prototype thieves (ibtimes.co.uk)

drunkdrone writes: Razer is offering a reward of up to $25,000 (£21,000, €24,000) for fresh information relating to the theft of prototype devices from the company's booth at CES 2017. In a post on Facebook, company CEO Min-Liang Tan said that the reward money would be offered to anyone who can provide leads resulting in the identification, arrest and conviction of those responsible.

Submission + - Facebook Buys Data From Third-Party Brokers To Fill In User Profiles (ibtimes.com)

An anonymous reader writes: According to a report from ProPublica, the world’s largest social network knows far more about its users than just what they do online. What Facebook can’t glean from a user’s activity, it’s getting from third-party data brokers. ProPublica found the social network is purchasing additional information including personal income, where a person eats out and how many credit cards they keep. That data all comes separate from the unique identifiers that Facebook generates for its users based on interests and online behavior. A separate investigation by ProPublica in which the publication asked users to report categories of interest Facebook assigned to them generated more than 52,000 attributes. The data Facebook pays for from other brokers to round out user profiles isn’t disclosed by the company beyond a note that it gets information “from a few different sources.” Those sources, according to ProPublica, come from commercial data brokers who have access to information about people that isn’t linked directly to online behavior. The social network doesn’t disclose those sources because the information isn’t collected by Facebook and is publicly available. Facebook does provide a page in its help center that details how to get removed from the lists held by third-party data brokers. However, the process isn’t particularly easy. In the case of the Oracle-owned Datalogix, users who want off the list have to send a written request and a copy of a government-issued identification in the mail to Oracle’s chief privacy officer. Another data collecting service, Acxiom, requires users provide the last four digits of their social security number to see the information the company has gathered about them.

Submission + - Mining 24 Hours a Day with Robots (technologyreview.com)

schwit1 writes: Mining companies are rolling out autonomous trucks, drills, and trains, which will boost efficiency but also reduce the need for human employees.

Rio Tinto uses driverless trucks provided by Japan’s Komatsu. They find their way around using precision GPS and look out for obstacles using radar and laser sensors.

Rio Tinto's driverless trucks have proven to be roughly 15 percent cheaper to run than vehicles with humans behind the wheel—a significant saving since haulage is by far a mine’s largest operational cost. Trucks that drive themselves can spend more time working because software doesn’t need to stop for shift changes or bathroom breaks. They are also more predictable in how they do things like pull up for loading. “All those places where you could lose a few seconds or minutes by not being consistent add up”. They also improve safety.

The driverless locomotives, due to be tested extensively next year and fully deployed by 2018, are expected to bring similar benefits. They also anticipate savings on train maintenance, because software can be more predictable and gentle than any human in how it uses brakes and other controls. Diggers and bulldozers could be next to be automated.

Submission + - Toshiba may go bankrupt (businessinsider.com)

bsharma writes: TOKYO — Faced with the prospect of a multibillion-dollar write-down that could wipe out its shareholders' equity, Japan's Toshiba is running out of fixes: It is burning cash, cannot issue shares, and has few easy assets left to sell.

The Tokyo-based conglomerate, which is still recovering from a $1.3 billion accounting scandal in 2015, dismayed investors and lenders again this week by announcing that cost overruns at a US nuclear business bought only last year meant it could now face a crippling charge against profit.

Submission + - Satellite spots massive object hidden under the frozen wastes of Antarctica (thesun.co.uk) 5

schwit1 writes: SCIENTISTS believe a massive object which could change our understanding of history is hidden beneath the Antarctic ice.

The huge and mysterious “anomaly” is thought to be lurking beneath the frozen wastes of an area called Wilkes Land. It stretches for a distance of 151 miles across and has a maximum depth of about 848 metres. This “Wilkes Land gravity anomaly” was first uncovered in 2006, when NASA satellites spotted gravitational changes which indicated the presence of a huge object sitting in the middle of a 300 mile wide impact crater.

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