Piracy

The Pirate Bay Is Back Online, Properly 81

Posted by Soulskill
from the arrr-me-hearties dept.
New submitter cbiltcliffe writes: About a month ago, we discussed news that the Pirate Bay domain name was back online. This story mentioned a timer, which supposedly showed the time since the police raid. I didn't notice at the time, but a more recent check showed this counter was counting down, not up, with a time set to reach zero at the end of January. Sometime around a week ago, the waving pirate flag video changed to a graphic of an orange phoenix, and a disabled search box showed up. I've been watching the site since, and now, about 12 hours before the timer was to reach zero, the site is back up, complete with searches.
Open Source

Inkscape Version 0.91 Released 49

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
Bryce writes: Four years since the last major Inkscape release, now news is out about version 0.91 of this powerful vector drawing and painting tool. The main reason for the multi-year delay is that they've switched from their old custom rendering engine to using Cairo now, improving their support for open source standards. This release also adds symbol libraries and support for Visio stencils, cross platform WMF and EMF import and export, a native Windows 64-bit build, scads of bug fixes, and much more. Check out the full release notes for more information about what has changed, or just jump right to downloading your package for Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X.
Education

Can Students Have Too Much Tech? 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the maybe-4th-graders-don't-need-weaponized-roombas dept.
theodp writes: In a NY Times Op Ed, developmental psychologist Susan Pinker goes against the conventional White House wisdom about the importance of Internet connectivity for schoolchildren and instead argues that students can have too much tech. "More technology in the classroom has long been a policy-making panacea," Pinker writes. "But mounting evidence shows that showering students, especially those from struggling families, with networked devices will not shrink the class divide in education. If anything, it will widen it." Tech can help the progress of children, Pinker acknowledges, but proper use is the rub. As a cautionary tale, Pinker cites a study by Duke economists that tracked the academic progress of nearly one million disadvantaged middle-school students against the dates they were given networked computers. The news was not good. "Students who gain access to a home computer between the 5th and 8th grades tend to witness a persistent decline in reading and math scores," the economists wrote, adding that license to surf the Internet was also linked to lower grades in younger children.
Graphics

GeForce GTX 980 and 970 Cards From MSI, EVGA, and Zotac Reviewed 37

Posted by Soulskill
from the price-vs.-performance-vs.-really-loud-fans dept.
MojoKid writes: In all of its iterations, NVIDIA's Maxwell architecture has proven to be a good performing, power-efficient GPU thus far. At the high-end of the product stack is where some of the most interesting products reside, however. When NVIDIA launches a new high-end GPU, cards based on the company's reference design trickle out first, and then board partners follow up with custom solutions packing unique cooling hardware, higher clocks, and sometimes additional features. With the GeForce GTX 970 and GTX 980, NVIDIA's board partners were ready with custom solutions very quickly. These three custom GeForce cards, from enthusiast favorites EVGA, MSI, and Zotac represent optimization at the high-end of Maxwell. Two of the cards are GTX 980s: the MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G and the Zotac GeForce GTX 980 AMP! Omgea, the third is a GTX 970 from EVGA, their GeForce GTX 970 FTW with ACX 2.0. Besides their crazy long names, all of these cards are custom solutions, that ship overclocked from the manufacturer. In testing, NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 980 was the fastest, single-GPU available. The custom, factory overclocked MSI and Zotac cards cemented that fact. Overall, thanks to a higher default GPU-clock, the MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G was the best performing card. EVGA's GeForce GTX 970 FTW was also relatively strong, despite its alleged memory bug. Although, as expected, it couldn't quite catch the higher-end GeForce GTX 980s, but occasionally outpaced the AMD's top-end Radeon R9 290X.
Businesses

Comcast Employees Change Customer Names To 'Dummy' and Other Insults 201

Posted by Soulskill
from the corporations-behaving-badly dept.
An anonymous reader writes: According to customer bills and screenshots submitted to and reported by blogger Chris Elliot at BoardingArea, Comcast employees have repeatedly changed the names of customers to insults like "dummy," "w***e," "a*****e," and "b***h." Elliott notes although reasons and consequences for this behavior are unknown, "one thing is clear: At least one person, and maybe more than one person, really doesn't like Comcast's customers. Enough to put it in writing. Repeatedly." Comcast has apologized and is looking at ways to prevent it from happening in the future.
The Military

UK Sets Up Internet-Savvy Army Unit 41

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-recruiting-internet-tough-guys dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that the UK Army is establishing a dedicated unit for fighting wars in the information age. The 77th Brigade will specialize in non-lethal, psychological operations that involve the internet and social media. The army says it's learned through its operations in Afghanistan that there are fights to be won not just on the battlefield, but online as well. "In some senses it's defensive - trying to present the case from this side against opponents who hold many of the cards. We've seen with Islamic State, its incredible capability on the net, Facebook, Instagram and all the rest." The new unit will "try to influence local populations and change behavior through what the Army calls traditional and unconventional means." The army also stressed that they're looking for ways that citizens with the right skills could work alongside the 77th Brigade.
Businesses

How, and Why, Apple Overtook Microsoft 357

Posted by timothy
from the paper-beats-rock dept.
HughPickens.com writes James B. Stewart writes in the NYT that in 1998 Bill Gates said in an interview that he "couldn't imagine a situation in which Apple would ever be bigger and more profitable than Microsoft" but less than two decades later, Apple, with a market capitalization more than double Microsoft's, has won. The most successful companies need a vision, and both Apple and Microsoft have one. But according to Stewart, Apple's vision was more radical and, as it turns out, more farsighted. Where Microsoft foresaw a computer on every person's desk, Apple went a big step further: Its vision was a computer in every pocket. "Apple has been very visionary in creating and expanding significant new consumer electronics categories," says Toni Sacconaghi. "Unique, disruptive innovation is really hard to do. Doing it multiple times, as Apple has, is extremely difficult." According to Jobs' biographer Walter Isaacson, Microsoft seemed to have the better business for a long time. "But in the end, it didn't create products of ethereal beauty. Steve believed you had to control every brush stroke from beginning to end. Not because he was a control freak, but because he had a passion for perfection." Can Apple continue to live by Jobs's disruptive creed now that the company is as successful as Microsoft once was? According to Robert Cihra it was one thing for Apple to cannibalize its iPod or Mac businesses, but quite another to risk its iPhone juggernaut. "The question investors have is, what's the next iPhone? There's no obvious answer. It's almost impossible to think of anything that will create a $140 billion business out of nothing."
United Kingdom

BT Unveils 1000Mbps Capable G.fast Broadband Rollout For the United Kingdom 100

Posted by timothy
from the gee-that's-fast dept.
Mark.JUK writes The national telecoms operator for the United Kingdom, BT, has today announced that it will begin a country-wide deployment of the next generation hybrid-fibre G.fast (ITU G.9701) broadband technology from 2016/17, with most homes being told to expect speeds of up to 500Mbps (Megabits per second) and a premium service offering 1000Mbps will also be available.

At present BT already covers most of the UK with hybrid Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology, which delivers download speeds of up to 80Mbps by running a fibre optic cable to a local street cabinet and then using VDSL2 over the remaining copper line from the cabinet to homes. G.fast follows a similar principal, but it brings the fibre optic cable even closer to homes (often by installing smaller remote nodes on telegraph poles) and uses more radio spectrum (17-106MHz) over a shorter remaining run of copper cable (ideally less than 250 metres). The reliance upon copper cable means that the real-world speeds for some, such as those living furthest away from the remote nodes, will probably struggle to match up to BT's claims. Nevertheless many telecoms operators see this as being a more cost effective approach to broadband than deploying a pure fibre optic / Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) network.
The Courts

Indian Woman Sues Uber In the US Over Alleged New Delhi Taxi Rape 230

Posted by timothy
from the who-is-responsible dept.
"Uber has been the subject of controversy all around the globe," notes new submitter yuetteasvy (3999351), who supplies this story from Reuters about one of the reasons for that controversy: An Indian woman who says she was raped by an Uber driver while she was traveling in his cab in December is suing the San Francisco–based online firm in a U.S. federal court in California, claiming it failed to put in place basic safety procedures while running its car service in India. In her lawsuit, filed on Thursday, the New Delhi woman called the app-based service the "modern day equivalent of electronic hitchhiking." The unidentified plaintiff also calls for Uber to overhaul its safety practices, and seeks unspecified damages in the case, according to Reuters. The news agency quoted Uber as saying that it's "deepest sympathies remain with the victim of this horrific crime." Earlier, the woman was reported to have enlisted the services of Douglas Wigdor, a high-profile U.S. lawyer who represented Nafissatou Diallo, the New York City hotel maid who accused the former International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault. Prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney's office went on to drop all charges against Strauss-Kahn, while a civil suit was settled out of court.
Education

Ask Slashdot: How Do I Engage 5th-8th Graders In Computing? 165

Posted by Soulskill
from the robots-with-lasers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I volunteer at a inner-city community after school program focused K-8th grade. Right now, due to the volunteer demographic, we spend most of our activity time in arts and crafts and homework. The 5th-8th students are getting restless with those activities. I've been asked to spice it up with some electrical wizardry. What I'd like to do is introduce the students to basic jobs skills through computers. My thoughts are that I could conduct some simple hands-on experiments with circuits, and maybe some bread boards. Ultimately, we're going to take apart a computer and put it back together. How successful this project is will dictate whether or not we will go into programming. However, whatever we do, I want the kids to obtain marketable skills. Anyone know of a curriculum I can follow? What experiences have you had with various educational computing projects?
The Military

US Army Releases Code For Internal Forensics Framework 36

Posted by Soulskill
from the see-what-kind-of-code-your-tax-dollars-can-buy dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Maryland has released on GitHub a version of a Python-based internal forensics tool which the army itself has been using for five years. Dshell is a Linux-based framework designed to help investigators identify and examine compromised IT environments. One of the intentions of the open-sourcing of the project is to involve community developers in the creation of new modules for the framework. The official release indicates that the version of Dshell released to Github is not necessarily the same one that the Army uses, or at least that the module package might be pared down from the Army-issued software.
Verizon

Fixing Verizon's Supercookie 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the c-is-for-cookie,-cookie-is-for-whoever-verizon-says dept.
New submitter ferro lad sends a story about Verizon's so-called supercookie, a unique identifier they add to web traffic going across their network to help advertisers target their ads better. A new article at Slate demonstrates how Verizon could fix the identifier so that ad companies would have a harder time misusing it — something they've already been shown to do. "...with just a tiny amount of effort, Verizon could maintain its current business while substantially preventing the misuse of its UID headers." Of course, for privacy-conscious users, the ability to get rid of them altogether would be preferable. Fortunately, Verizon now says users will soon have the ability to opt out of the identifiers. Previously, users could opt out of having their data shared with advertisers, but the unique identifier itself remained with their web traffic. It's not a complete solution — the tracking should be opt-in to begin with — but it's a step in the right direction.
Networking

Wi-Fi Issues Continue For OS X Users Despite Updates 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-motivation-to-fix dept.
itwbennett writes: Although Apple has never officially acknowledged issues surrounding Yosemite and Wi-Fi connectivity, the company is clearly aware of the problem: Leading off the improvements offered in the update 10.10.2 update released Tuesday was 'resolves an issue that might cause Wi-Fi to disconnect,' according to the release notes. Despite this, Apple's support forum was filled with tales of frustrated users. And Mac owners aren't the only Apple users experiencing wireless connection failures after updating their OS. Wi-Fi connectivity issues have also dogged iOS 8 since Apple released the mobile OS on Sept. 17.
Oracle

VirtualBox Development At a Standstill 269

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-with-a-virtual-bang,-but-a-virtual-whimper dept.
jones_supa writes: Phoronix notes how it has been a long time since last hearing of any major innovations or improvements to VirtualBox, the virtual machine software managed by Oracle. This comes while VMware is improving its products on all platforms, and KVM, Xen, Virt-Manager, and related Linux virtualization technologies continue to advance as well. Is there any hope left for a revitalized VirtualBox? It has been said that there are only four paid developers left on the VirtualBox team at the company, which is not enough manpower to significantly advance such a complex piece of software. The v4.3 series has been receiving some maintenance updates during the last two years, but that's about it.
Communications

Reverse Engineering the Nike+ FuelBand's Communications Protocol 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the talking-to-the-wrist dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Security researcher Simone Margaritelli has reverse engineered the Bluetooth low-energy communications protocol for his Nike+ FuelBand SE, a wrist-worn activity tracker. He learned some disturbing facts: "The authentication system is vulnerable, anyone could connect to your device. The protocol supports direct reading and writing of the device memory, up to 65K of contents. The protocol supports commands that are not supposed to be implemented in a production release (bootloader mode, device self test, etc)." His post explains in detail how he managed this, and how Nike put effort into creating an authentication system, but then completely undermined it by using a hard-coded token. Margaritelli even provides a command list for the device, which can do things like grab an event log, upload a bitmap for the screen, and even reset it.
Wireless Networking

US Wireless Spectrum Auction Raises $44.9 Billion 88

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-wireless-benjamins dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The FCC's recent wireless spectrum auction closed on Thursday, and the agency has raked in far more money than anyone expected. Sales totaled $44.89 billion, demonstrating that demand for wireless spectrum is higher than ever. The winners have not yet been disclosed, but the FCC will soon make all bidding activity public. "The money will be used to fund FirstNet, the government agency tasked with creating the nation's first interoperable broadband network for first responders, to finance technological upgrades to our 911 emergency systems, and to contribute over $20 billion to deficit reduction. In addition, the auction brought 65 Megahertz of spectrum to market to fuel our nation's mobile broadband networks. The wireless industry estimates that for every 10 Megahertz of spectrum licensed for wireless broadband, 7,000 American jobs are created and U.S. gross domestic product increases by $1.7 billion."
Government

Safety Review Finds Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Site Was Technically Sound 172

Posted by Soulskill
from the wasted-effort dept.
siddesu writes: The U.S. Department of Energy's 2008 proposal to build a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, was technically sound, a report by the NRC says. However, the closed-down project is unlikely to revive, as its staff has moved on, and there are few funds available to restart it. "With the release of the final two volumes of a five-part technical analysis, the commission closed another chapter on the controversial repository nearly five years after President Barack Obama abandoned the project, and more than a quarter century after the site was selected. While the staff recommended against approving construction, the solid technical review could embolden Republicans who now control both houses of Congress and would like to see Yucca Mountain revived."
Biotech

New Study Says Governments Should Ditch Reliance On Biofuels 211

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-switchgrass? dept.
HughPickens.com writes The NYT reports on a new study from a prominent environmental think tank that concludes turning plant matter into liquid fuel or electricity is so inefficient that the approach is unlikely ever to supply a substantial fraction of global energy demand. They add that continuing to pursue this strategy is likely to use up vast tracts of fertile land that could be devoted to helping feed the world's growing population. "I would say that many of the claims for biofuels have been dramatically exaggerated," says Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, a global research organization based in Washington that is publishing the report. "There are other, more effective routes to get to a low-carbon world." The report follows several years of rising concern among scientists about biofuel policies in the United States and Europe, and is the strongest call yet by the World Resources Institute, known for nonpartisan analysis of environmental issues, to urge governments to reconsider those policies.

Timothy D. Searchinger says recent science has challenged some of the assumptions underpinning many of the pro-biofuel policies that have often failed to consider the opportunity cost of using land to produce plants for biofuel. According to Searchinger, if forests or grasses were grown instead of biofuels, that would pull carbon dioxide out of the air, storing it in tree trunks and soils and offsetting emissions more effectively than biofuels would do. What is more, as costs for wind and solar power have plummeted over the past decade, and the new report points out that for a given amount of land, solar panels are at least 50 times more efficient than biofuels at capturing the energy of sunlight in a useful form. "It's true that our first-generation biofuels have not lived up to their promise," says Jason Hill said. "We've found they do not offer the environmental benefits they were purported to have, and they have a substantial negative impact on the food system."
Businesses

Alibaba Face Off With Chinese Regulator Over Fake Products 79

Posted by samzenpus
from the clean-up-your-act dept.
hackingbear writes China's State Administration of Industry and Commerce on Wednesday issued a scathing report against one of the country's biggest stars, accusing e-commerce giant Alibaba of failing to do enough to prevent fake goods from being sold on its websites. SAIC said Alibaba allowed "illegal advertising" that misled consumers with false claims about low prices and other details. It claims some Alibaba employees took bribes and the company failed to deal effectively with fraud. Alibaba fired back with charges of bias and misconduct by accusing the SAIC official in charge of Internet monitoring, Liu Hongliang, of unspecified "procedural misconduct" and warned it will file a formal complaint. Such public defiance is almost unheard of in China. Apparently, Alibaba has long attained the too big to fail status.
Businesses

LibreOffice Gets a Streamlined Makeover With 4.4 Release 145

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-it-out dept.
TechCurmudgeon sends word that LibreOffice 4.4 has been released. "The Document foundation announced availability of the latest version of LibreOffice on Thursday, which it says is the most beautiful version of the open source productivity suite yet. LibreOffice 4.4 also fixes some compatibility issues with files that are saved in Microsoft's OOXML formats. LibreOffice 4.4 has got a lot of UX and design love," Jan "Kendy" Holesovsky, who leads the design team for Libreoffice, said in a statement. LibreOffice 4.4 is currently available for Windows."