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Sci-Fi

Frank Herbert's Dune, 50 Years On 53 53

An anonymous reader writes: This October will be the 50th anniversary of Frank Herbert's massively popular and influential sci-fi novel Dune. The Guardian has written a piece examining its effects on the world at large, and how the book remains relevant even now. Quoting: 'Books read differently as the world reforms itself around them, and the Dune of 2015 has geopolitical echoes that it didn't in 1965, before the oil crisis and 9/11. ... As Paul's destiny becomes clear to him, he begins to have visions 'of fanatic legions following the green and black banner of the Atreides, pillaging and burning across the universe in the name of their prophet Muad'Dib.' If Paul accepts this future, he will be responsible for 'the jihad's bloody swords,' unleashing a nomad war machine that will up-end the corrupt and oppressive rule of the emperor Shaddam IV (good) but will kill untold billions (not so good) in the process. In 2015, the story of a white prophet leading a blue-eyed brown-skinned horde of jihadis against a ruler called Shaddam produces a weird funhouse mirror effect, as if someone has jumbled up recent history and stuck the pieces back together in a different order."
The Almighty Buck

Ask Slashdot: How Much Did Your Biggest Tech Mistake Cost? 186 186

NotQuiteReal writes: What is the most expensive piece of hardware you broke (I fried a $2500 disk drive once, back when 400MB was $2500) or what software bug did you let slip that caused damage? (No comment on the details — but about $20K cost to a client.) Did you lose your job over it? If you worked on the Mars probe that crashed, please try not to be the First Post, that would scare off too many people!
United States

Wired Cautions Would-Be Drone Photogs on the 4th 59 59

Last year's spectacular but unauthorized you-are-there video from the inside of a fireworks display has probably inspired quite a few people to try getting their own bird's-eye view this year. Wired cautions photographers, though, that many municipalities have specifically banned (and some will be looking for) unauthorized airborne visitors, and that the FAA's guidelines for legal flight are tricky to comply with during a fireworks show. This is both because it's hard to maintain visual contact with a drone amid the dark and smoke of a show, and because of the altitude at which many commercial firework shells burst. In addition, even if a drone photo mission goes under the radar vis-a-vis local authorities, if resulting footage appears on an ad-supported site, like YouTube, the FAA may be a bit more interested than the pilot would like.
Crime

In Response to Open Letter, France Rejects Asylum For Julian Assange 129 129

Several outlets report that Julian Assange has requested, but been denied, political asylum in France, by means of an open letter published by Le Monde. From The Globe and Mail's coverage, linked above: Less than an hour after his letter was published by Le Monde's website, Hollande's office issued a statement saying the asylum request was rejected.

"France has received the letter from Mr. Assange. An in-depth review shows that in view of the legal and material elements of Mr Assange's situation, France cannot grant his request," the statement said.

"The situation of Mr. Assange does not present any immediate danger. He is also the target of a European arrest warrant," it noted.

Assange wrote in the letter that his youngest child is French, and so is the child’s mother. "I haven't been able to see them in five years, since the political persecution against me started," he said.
Worth noting: Assange's legal team says that Assange's letter has been mischaracterized, and that it is in fact not a request for asylum per se; instead, they assert, the letter merely expresses Assange's "willingness 'to be hosted in France if and only if an initiative was taken by the competent authorities.'"
Piracy

FBI Wants Pirate Bay Logs For Criminal Investigation Into Copyright Trolls 72 72

the simurgh writes: It has been revealed today that In the past few months, two of the Pirate Bay co-founders have been repeatedly questioned by Swedish authorities, acting on behalf of the FBI. The internet now has clear evidence that Prenda is indeed being investigated by the U.S. Government for uploading their own copyrighted content in torrents placed onto The Pirate Bay, for the sole purpose of creating a honeypot trap to sue over pirated downloads.
Programming

Clang Plays Tetris -- Tetris As a C++ Template Metaprogram 60 60

New submitter mjvzb writes: Ever wish compiling was more fun? Well, I recently implemented Tetris as a C++ template metaprogram (code at Github). The game is played by recompiling its source, taking player input by compiler flag. The runtime program is only needed to print the game screen to the console and save the game state across compiler runs.

Implementing Tetris in templates is not as horrific as you may imagine, and I've put together a post covering the details. Once you get over the syntax, C++ metaprogramming is just like functional programming.
The Almighty Buck

Leased LEDs and Energy Service Contracts can Cut Electric Bills (Video) 49 49

I first heard of Consumer Energy Solutions from a non-profit's IT guy who was boasting about how he got them to lease him LED bulbs for their parking lot and the security lights at their equipment lot -- pretty much all their outdoor lighting -- for a lot less than their monthly savings on electricity from replacing most of their Halogen, fluorescent, and other less-efficient lights with LEDs. What made this a big deal to my friend was that no front money was required. It's one thing to tell a town council or non-profit board, "If we spend $180,000 on LEDs we'll save it all back in five years" (or whatever). It's another thing to say, "We can lease LEDs for all our outdoor lighting for $4,000 per month and save $8,000 on electricity right away." That gets officials to prick up their ears in a hurry.Then there are energy service contracts, essentially buying electricity one, two or three years in advance. This business got a bad name from Enron and their energy wholesaling business, but despite that single big blast of negative publicity, it grows a little each year. And the LED lease business? In many areas, governments and utility companies actually subsidize purchases of anything that cuts electricity use. Totally worth checking out.

But why, you might ask, is this on Slashdot? Because some of our readers own stacks of servers (or work for companies that own stacks of servers) and need to know they don't have to pay whatever their local electric utility demands, but can shop for better electricity prices in today's deregulated electricity market. And while this conversation was with one person in this business, we are not pushing his company. As interviewee Patrick Clouden says at the end of the interview, it's a competitive business. So if you want the best deal, you'd better shop around. One more thing: the deregulated utility market, with its multitude of suppliers, peak and off-peak pricing, and (often) minute-by-minute price changes, takes excellent software (possibly written by someone like you) to negotiate, so this business niche might be one an entrepreneurial software developer should explore.
Media

Rumblefish Claims It Owns 'America the Beautiful' By United States Navy Band 87 87

ptorrone writes: Adafruit is now shipping the USA-made open-source Arduinos. In celebration Ladyada the engineer posted an Arduino rotating in front of an American flag with the public domain "America the Beautiful" by the United States Navy Band as background music. Adafruit immediately received notice from from YouTube stating that the song is owned by Rumblefish. Rumblefish previously claimed to own copyright to ambient birdsongs, too.
Firefox

Firefox 39 Released, Bringing Security Improvements and Social Sharing 152 152

An anonymous reader writes: Today Mozilla announced the release of Firefox 39.0, which brings an number of minor improvements to the open source browser. (Full release notes.) They've integrated Firefox Share with Firefox Hello, which means that users will be able to open video calls through links sent over social media. Internally, the browser dropped support for the insecure SSLv3 and disabled use of RC4 except where explicitly whitelisted. The SafeBrowsing malware detection now works for downloads on OS X and Linux. (Full list of security changes.) The Mac OS X version of Firefox is now running Project Silk, which makes animations and scrolling noticeably smoother. Developers now have access to the powerful Fetch API, which should provide a better interface for grabbing things over a network.
Australia

Aussie ISP Bakes In Geo-dodging For Netflix, Hulu 38 38

New submitter ste7en7 writes: A new Australian ISP is integrating geo-blocking circumvention into its broadband service, allowing customers to access streaming services like Hulu, Netflix USA, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime. When Yournet launches in August, customers will be able to sign up for broadband that allows users to instantly change the country they are supposedly surfing from.
Social Networks

AMAgeddon: Reddit Mods Are Locking Up the Site's Most Popular Pages In Protest 340 340

vivaoporto writes: As reported by CNET and TechCrunch, reddit moderators are locking up the site's most popular pages in protest against the dismissal of Victoria Taylor, a key member of the site's behind-the-scenes team. Taylor, who was the main facilitator for the site's question-and-answer community "Ask Me Anything" (graced by the presence of notables like Barack Obama, Jerry Seinfeld and regular folks like a line cook at Applebee's) was fired yesterday, causing all sorts of problems for Reddit's most mainstream offering.

Taylor's reported departure, which has been dubbed AMAgeddon, led other moderators of the marquee IAmA subreddit to switch the page's settings to private, rendering the Reddit userbase unable to view the page. Since then, dozens of other subreddits including /r/askreddit, /r/videos, /r/gaming and /r/gadgets — each with several million subscribers — have also been made private, instead re-directing readers to a static landing page.

Reddit's cofounder and executive chairman, Alexis Ohanian, said in a post, "we don't talk about specific employees. (...) We get that losing Victoria has a significant impact on the way you manage your community, (...) I'd really like to understand how we can help solve these problems, because I know r/IAMA thrived before her and will thrive after." He later apologized for how communication was handled. A full recap of the situation is available at the site itself, with insights from redditors about the whole situation.

This comes in the wake of other highly controversial events like the response to what became known as The Fappening, and the more recent ban of the controversial but popular FatPeopleHate subreddit.
Businesses

MasterCard To Approve Online Payments Using Your Selfies 73 73

An anonymous reader writes: MasterCard is experimenting with a new program: approving online purchases with a facial scan. Once you’re done shopping online, instead of a password, the service will require you to snap a photo of your face, so you won’t have to worry about remembering a password. The Stack reports: "MasterCard will be joining forces with tech leaders Apple, BlackBerry, Google, Samsung and Microsoft as well as two major banks to help make the feature a reality. Currently the international group uses a SecureCode solution which requires a password from its customers at checkout. The system was used across 3 billion transactions last year, the company said. It is now exploring biometric alternatives to protect against unauthorized payment card transactions. Customers trialling the new technologies are required to download the MasterCard app onto their smart device. At checkout two authorization steps will be taken; fingerprint recognition and facial identification using the device's camera. The system will check for blinking to avoid criminals simply holding a photograph up to the lens."
The Military

Naval Research Interested In Bringing 3D Printing To Large Scale For Ships 43 43

coondoggie writes: The Navy this month will outline what it is looking for from additive manufacturing or 3D printing technology as way to bolster what it terms "fleet readiness." The Office of Naval Research will on July 15 detail its Quality Metal Additive Manufacturing (Quality MADE) program that will aim to "develop and integrate the suite of additive manufacturing software and hardware tools required to ensure that critical metallic components can be consistently produced and rapidly qualified in a cost effective manner."
Government

Can New Chicago Taxes On Netflix, Apple, Spotify Withstand Legal Challenges? 183 183

Mr D from 63 writes: Today, a new "cloud tax" takes effect in the city of Chicago, targeting online databases and streaming entertainment services. Residents who stream movies and music from companies like Netflix and Spotify will now need to pay an additional 9% tax. This also applies to Chicago businesses that pay to use databases online. Chicago expects to collect $12 million a year as a result of the new tax ruling. From the 24/7 Wall St. story: "Also worth noting is that the city’s tax ruling in both cases avoids the issue of whether there is a close-enough connection (nexus, in legalese) to require providers like Netflix or others to collect either tax. International law firm ReedSmith weighs in on this point as well: '[O]nce the Department begins to audit and assess customers located within the city, many of those customers are likely to demand that providers collect the tax going forward. As a result, many providers will likely feel the need to register to collect the taxes, despite lacking nexus, and despite having strong arguments against the Department’s expansive interpretation of its taxing ordinances.'"
Communications

UK Government Illegally Spied On Amnesty International 105 105

Mark Wilson writes with this excerpt from a story at Beta News: A court has revealed that the UK intelligence agency, GCHQ, illegally spied on human rights organization Amnesty International. It is an allegation that the agency had previously denied, but an email from the Investigatory Powers Tribunal backtracked on a judgement made in June which said no such spying had taken place.

The email was sent to Amnesty International yesterday, and while it conceded that the organization was indeed the subject of surveillance, no explanation has been offered. It is now clear that, for some reason, communications by Amnesty International were illegally intercepted, stored, and examined. What is not clear is when the spying happened, what data was collected and, more importantly, why it happened.
Microsoft

Microsoft Research Open Sources WorldWide Telescope 18 18

kfogel writes: Microsoft Research has open sourced WorldWide Telescope, releasing it under the MIT license and donating the code to the .NET Foundation. The code is up on GitHub at github.com/WorldWideTelescope, and there are demos and more details at WorldWideTelescope.org. Go forth and explore!
Encryption

Cameron Asserts UK Gov't Will Leave No "Safe Space" For Private Communications 254 254

An anonymous reader writes with the story from Ars Technica that UK prime minister David Cameron "has re-iterated that the UK government does not intend to 'leave a safe space — a new means of communication — for terrorists to communicate with each other.'" That statement came Monday, as a response to Conservative MP David Bellingham, "who asked [Cameron, on the floor of the House of Commons] whether he agreed that the 'time has come for companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter to accept and understand that their current privacy policies are completely unsustainable?' To which Cameron replied: 'we must look at all the new media being produced and ensure that, in every case, we are able, in extremis and on the signature of a warrant, to get to the bottom of what is going on.'" This sounds like the UK government is declaring a blustery war on encryption, and it might not need too much war: some companies can be persuaded (or would be eager) to cooperate with the government in handing over all kinds of information. However, the bluster part may leave even the fiercest surveillance mostly show: as Ars writer Glyn Moody asks, what about circumstances "where companies can't hand over keys, or where there is no company involved, as with GnuPG, the open source implementation of the OpenPGP encryption system?" Or Tor?
Programming

Watching People Code Is Becoming an (Even Bigger) Thing 133 133

itwbennett writes: Faithful Slashdot readers may recall the story of Adam Wulf, who spent two weeks live-streaming himself writing a mobile app. The phenomenon has quickly become thing, by which we mean a business. Twitch.TV, Watch People Code (which is an offshoot of the subreddit by the same name), Ludum Dare, and, of course, YouTube, are bursting with live or archived streams of lots of people writing lots of code for lots of different things. And just this week, Y Combinator-backed startup Livecoding.TV launched. The site has signed up 40,000 users since its beta went live in February, but unlike the other sites in this space what it doesn't have (and doesn't have plans for) is advertising. As co-founder Jamie Green told ITworld: 'We have some different ideas around monetisation in the pipeline, but for now we are just focussed on building a community around live education.'
The Internet

North America Runs Out of IPv4 Addresses 295 295

DW100 writes: The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) has been forced to reject a request for more IPv4 addresses for the first time as its stock of remaining address reaches exhaustion. The lack of IPv4 addresses has led to renewed calls for the take-up of IPv6 addresses in order to start embracing the next era of the internet.
Cellphones

TracFone Finally Agrees To Allow Phone Unlocking 85 85

jfruh writes: While most Slashdot readers probably enjoy the latest and greatest smartphones and heavy-use data plans, millions of Americans use low-cost, prepaid featurephones, and many of those are sold under various brand names owned by TracFone. Today, after much pressure from the FCC, TracFone admitted that its customers also have the right to an unlocked phone that they can port to a different provider, including those low-income customers who participate in the government-subsidized Lifeline program, widely (though incorrectly) known as "Obamaphone".