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Government

The Problem With How We Think Of Surveillance 96

blastboy writes "Here's a great essay on Snowden, technology and the problem with how we think of surveillance. From the article: 'Why do we give them our data? For the same reason that prompted the protesters to pull out their phones amid a swirl of tear gas: digital channels are one of the easiest ways we have to talk to one another, and sometimes the only way. There are few things more powerful and rewarding than communicating with another person. It’s not a coincidence that the harshest legal punishment short of the death penalty in modern states is solitary confinement. Humans are social animals; social interaction is at our core. Yet the more we connect to each other online, the more our actions become visible to governments and corporations. It feels like a loss of independence. But as I stood in Gezi Park, I saw how digital communication had become a form of organization. I saw it enable dissent, discord, and protest.'"
XBox (Games)

Microsoft: Xbox One Won't Require Kinect To Function 216

UnknowingFool writes "Microsoft has reversed course on another aspect of the Xbox One. Though Xbox One will come bundled with a Kinect sensor, the console will work without it. Critics were had suggested that an always-on video and audio sensor could be used to spy on users. Microsoft's Marc Whitten said, 'Games use Kinect in a variety of amazing ways from adding voice to control your squad mates to adding lean and other simple controls beyond the controller to full immersive gameplay. That said, like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn't plugged in, although you won't be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor.' This is the latest reversal from Microsoft since they killed the phone-home DRM and made it region-free."
Microsoft

Microsoft Is Working On a Cloud Operating System For the US Government 171

SmartAboutThings writes "It seems that Microsoft is relying even more on the opportunities provided by the cloud technology. The Redmond behemoth is preparing to come up with a cloud operating system that is specially meant for government purposes. Government agencies already use two of Microsoft's basic cloud products: Windows Azure and Windows Server. But now it seems that Microsoft is working on a modified version of its somewhat new Cloud OS that could bear the name 'Fairfax.' Compared to Windows Azure, the 'Fairfax' cloud operating system would provide enhanced security, relying on physical servers on site at government locations. Given that CEO Steve Ballmer is striving to make Microsoft much more than a powerful software giant, such a project makes sense, especially because it would help in their lobby activities."
Microsoft

Microsoft Cuts Surface Pro Price By $100 341

SmartAboutThings writes "After discounting the Surface RT tablet worldwide by 30 percent, Microsoft is now cutting the price of its Surface Pro tablet by one hundred dollars. Steve Ballmer himself has recently declared that he was unhappy with the number of tablets Microsoft has managed to sell. The price cut offer is valid between August 4th and August 29th. It might continue or stop, according to the supply. The price cut is applicable to Surface Pro 64 GB & 128 GB models."
Google

Google Now Serves 25% of North American Internet Traffic 84

sturgeon writes "Wired Magazine claims today that Google is now 25% of the North American traffic with a mostly unreported (and rapidly expanding), massive deployment of edge caching servers in almost every Internet provider around the world. Whether users are directly using a Google service (i.e. search, YouTube) or the devices are automatically sending data (e.g. Google Analytics, updates), the majority of end devices around the world will now send traffic to Google server during the course of an average day. It looks like Wired based their story on a report from cloud analytics and network management company DeepField."
Microsoft

Microsoft Stock Drops 11% In a Day 467

Taco Cowboy writes with news that Microsoft's stock price dropped over 11 percent yesterday. The selloff was the biggest since 2009, and during the day the price was down more than 12 percent at one point, making it the biggest single day drop since April, 2000. Analysts believe the drop was due primarily to the company missing its quarterly earnings projections in addition to taking a massive, $900 million write-down on unsold Surface RT tablets. "Microsoft’s decline is both a consequence of the changing dynamics of the tech world and the incredible surge in its stock price this year. Shares in the maker of Windows had rallied nearly 30% this year, leaving both the broader stock market and the technology sector in the dust. It was, it seemed, Steve Ballmer’s year. Until Friday. The sell off was sparked by fears over the declines of the PC market. Gartner data show PC shipments fell for the fifth consecutive quarter in Q2, this time tanking 10.9% to 76 million units. Being the world’s largest software company, 'over 80% of its revenue and nearly all of its profits continue to be derived by its ubiquitous Windows OS, its server business (Windows Server), and the business division (Office),' according to UBS. And indeed that decline in the PC industry is hurting the company’s bottom line."
Programming

MS Tackles CS Education Crisis With Popularity Contest 141

theodp writes " The lack of education in computer science is an example of an area of particularly acute concern,' Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith told Congress (PDF) as he sold lawmakers on the need to improve 'America's access to high skilled foreign talent'. Smith added that Microsoft also wants to 'help American students and workers gain the skills needed for the jobs that will fuel the innovation economy.' Towards that end, Microsoft will award $100,000 worth of donations to five technology education nonprofits 'who teach programming and provide technical resources to those who might not otherwise get the chance.' So, how will Microsoft determine who's most worthy? With a popularity contest, of course! At the end of October, the top five vote-getting nonprofits — only Windows AzureDev Community members are eligible to vote — will split the Microsoft Money. By the way, currently in second place but trying harder is Code.org, the seemingly dual-missioned organization advised by Microsoft's Smith which has reached out to its 140,000 Facebook fans, and 17,000 Twitter followers in its quest for the $50,000 first prize."
Sci-Fi

Sci-Fi Stories That Predicted the Surveillance State 213

Daniel_Stuckey writes "Just to address one thing straight away: one of your favorite science fiction stories dealing, whether directly or indirectly, with surveillance is bound to be left off this list. And 1984's a given, so it's not here. At any rate, the following books deal in their own unique way with surveillance. Some address the surveillance head-on, while others speculate on inter-personal intelligence gathering, or consider the subject in more oblique ways. Still others distill surveillance down to its essence: as just one face of a much larger, all-encompassing system of control, that proceeds from the top of the pyramid down to its base."
Microsoft

Office 365, Amazon, Others Vulnerable To Exploit Microsoft Knew About In 2012 125

colinneagle writes "Ethical hacking professor Sam Bowne recently put a cookie re-use method to test on several major web services, finding that Office 365, Yahoo mail, Twitter, LinkedIn, Amazon, eBay, and WordPress all failed the security test. Both Amazon and eBay can be tied directly to your money via the method of payment you have on record. And, just for kicks, we tried it with Netflix. And it worked. Microsoft has apparently known that accounts can be hijacked since at least 2012 when The Hacker News reported the Hotmail and Outlook cookie-handling vulnerability, so Bowne was curious if Microsoft closed the hole or if stolen cookies could still be re-used. He claims he 'easily reproduced it using Chrome and the Edit This Cookie extension.'"
Microsoft

Maybe Steve Ballmer Doesn't Deserve the Hate 240

Nerval's Lobster writes "Who could forget Steve Ballmer's defining moment, that infamous 'Developers! Developers! Developers!' rant that became a YouTube hit? Or the reports of frighteningly accurate chair-throwing? Who could miss the tech media and investors blaming him for everything from Microsoft's largely stagnant stock price over the past decade to its inability to get in front of trends such as mobile devices? But tech columnist (and Kernel editor-in-chief) Milo Yiannopoulos talked to a bunch of Ballmer's friends and colleagues, picked through Microsoft's history, and came away with the argument that the man deserves a second look as an effective leader. 'He stands accused of running one of the greatest companies in American history into the ground, even as its stock price remains remarkably resilient and the company continues to turn a healthy profit,' he writes. 'The mature verdict on Steve Ballmer is that he has made only one major strategic error: not combining his own brilliance for sales and detail with a visionary product leader who has the authority to create bold new revenue streams for the company.' Do you agree? Or does Ballmer deserve his reputation as a bad CEO?"
Australia

Aussie Telco Telstra Agreed To Spy For America 125

An anonymous reader writes "Australian telecommunications giant Telstra has for a decade been storing huge volumes of electronic communications carried between Asia and America for surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies. This includes not just the metadata, but the actual content of emails, online messages and phone calls. With the blessing of the Australian government Telstra agreed to route data through a 'U.S. point of contact through a secure storage facility on U.S. soil that was staffed exclusively by U.S. citizens.' The contract was prompted by Telstra's decision to expand its business in Asia by taking control of hundreds of kilometers of undersea telecommunications cables. The deal started under the Liberal Party and continued under Labor. The Greens have demanded an explanation."
Businesses

Steve Ballmer Reorganizing Microsoft 387

Nerval's Lobster writes "Microsoft's big reorganization has begun. Rumors had persisted for weeks that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was planning a massive, once-in-a-lifetime reorganization of the company he's been running for quite some time. Now the plan is out in the open, and things are going to change in huge ways. Microsoft will coalesce around 'a single strategy as one company,' CEO Steve Ballmer wrote in a really lengthy memo posted on Microsoft's Website, 'not a collection of division strategies.' The company's product portfolio — from Windows and Xbox to enterprise applications — will be regarded and operated upon in a holistic manner. Ballmer wants this 'one company' approach to extend how Microsoft handles its advertising, marketing and consumer-service operations. Ballmer also wants to knock down the walls that have slowly grown between Microsoft's various divisions, at least as far as engineering's concerned. The new 'engineering culture' will apparently facilitate collaboration 'across the company,' with an emphasis on cross-group contributions (and maintaining secrecy, of course, for the giant projects). Read on for much more on how Microsoft is reorganizing all its internal groups, as well as a rundown of who's in and who's out on the executive level."

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