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FSF-Endorsed Libreboot X200 Laptop Comes With Intel's AMT Removed

Slashdot - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 23:43
gnujoshua (540710) writes "The Free Software Foundation has announced its endorsement of the Libreboot X200, a refurbished Lenovo ThinkPad X200 sold by Gluglug. The laptop ships with 100% free software and firmware, including the FSF's endorsed Trisquel GNU/Linux and Libreboot. One of the biggest challenges overcome in achieving FSF's Respects Your Freedom certification was the complete removal of Intel's ME and AMT firmware. The AMT is a controversial proprietary backdoor technology that allows remote access to a machine even when it is powered off. Quoting from the press release: "The ME and its extension, AMT, are serious security issues on modern Intel hardware and one of the main obstacles preventing most Intel based systems from being liberated by users. On most systems, it is extremely difficult to remove, and nearly impossible to replace. Libreboot X200 is the first system where it has actually been removed, permanently," said Gluglug Founder and CEO, Francis Rowe."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

'Anonymized' Credit Card Data Not So Anonymous, MIT Study Shows

Slashdot - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 23:12
schwit1 writes Scientists showed they can identify you with more than 90 percent accuracy by looking at just four purchases, three if the price is included — and this is after companies "anonymized" the transaction records, saying they wiped away names and other personal details. The study out of MIT, published Thursday in the journal Science, examined three months of credit card records for 1.1 million people. "We are showing that the privacy we are told that we have isn't real," study co-author Alex "Sandy" Pentland of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in an email.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

VP Anthony Moschella Shows Off Makerbot's Latest Printers and Materials (Video)

Slashdot - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 22:28
You may have read a few weeks ago about the new materials that MakerBot has introduced for its 3-D printers; earlier this month, I got a chance to see some of them in person, and have them explained by MakerBot VP of Product Anthony Moschella in a cramped demo closet — please excuse the lighting — at the company's booth at CES. Moschella had some things to say about materials, timelines, and what MakerBot is doing to try to salvage its open-source cred, despite being a very willing part of a corporate conspiracy to sell boxes of Martha Stewart-branded extruder filament — as well as a few unremarkable things that the company's ever-vigilant PR overseer decreed Moschella couldn't answer on the record for reasons like agreements between MakerBot parent Stratasys and their suppliers. The good news for owners of recent MakerBot models: they'll be upgradeable to use the new and interesting materials with a part swap, rather than a whole-machine swap (it takes a "smart extruder" rather than the current, dumber one). And the pretty good news for fans of open source, besides that the current generation of MakerBots are all Linux-based computers themselves, is that MakerBot's open API provides a broad path for 3-D makers to interact with the printers. (The bad news is that there's no move afoot to return the machines' guts to open source hardware, like the early generations of MakerBots, but STL files at least don't care whether you ship them to an FSF-approved printer to be made manifest.)

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Categories: Tech/Science News

US Air Force Selects Boeing 747-8 To Replace Air Force One

Slashdot - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 21:46
Tyketto writes Following up on a previous story about its replacement, the US Air Force has selected the Boeing 747-8 to replace the aging Presidential fleet of two VC-25s, which are converted B747-200s. With the only other suitable aircraft being the Airbus A380, the USAF cited Boeing's 50-year history of building presidential aircraft as their reason to skip competition and opt directly for the aircraft, which due to dwindling sales and prospects, may be the last 747s to be produced.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Ask Slashdot: When and How Did Europe Leapfrog the US For Internet Access?

Slashdot - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 20:50
New submitter rsanford, apropos today's FCC announcement about what is officially consided "broadband" speed by that agency, asks In the early and middle 90's I recall spending countless hours on IRC 'Trout-slapping' people in #hottub and engaging in channel wars. The people from Europe were always complaining about how slow their internet was and there was no choice. This was odd to me, who at the time had 3 local ISPs to choose from, all offering the fastest modem connections at the time, while living in rural America 60 miles away from the nearest city with 1,000 or more people. Was that the reality back then? If so, what changed, and when?

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Mozilla Dusts Off Old Servers, Lights Up Tor Relays

Slashdot - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 20:09
TechCurmudgeon writes According to The Register, "Mozilla has given the Tor network a capacity kick with the launch of 14 relays that will help distribute user traffic. Engineers working under the Foundation's Polaris Project inked in November pulled Mozilla's spare and decommissioned hardware out of the cupboard for dedicated use in the Tor network. It included a pair of Juniper EX4200 switches and three HP SL170zG6 (48GB ram, 2*Xeon L5640, 2*1Gbps NIC) servers, along with a dedicated existing IP transit provider (2 X 10Gbps). French Mozilla engineer Arzhel Younsi (@xionoxfr) said its network was designed to fall no lower than half of its network capacity in the event of maintenance or failure. The Polaris initiative was a effort of Mozilla, the Tor Project and the Centre for Democracy and Technology to help build more privacy controls into technology."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

FCC Officially Approves Change In the Definition of Broadband

Slashdot - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 19:28
halfEvilTech writes As part of its 2015 Broadband Progress Report, the Federal Communications Commission has voted to change the definition of broadband by raising the minimum download speeds needed from 4Mbps to 25Mbps, and the minimum upload speed from 1Mbps to 3Mbps, which effectively triples the number of US households without broadband access. Currently, 6.3 percent of US households don't have access to broadband under the previous 4Mpbs/1Mbps threshold, while another 13.1 percent don't have access to broadband under the new 25Mbps downstream threshold.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Former NATO Nuclear Bunker Now an 'Airless' Unmanned Data Center

Slashdot - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 18:33
An anonymous reader writes A German company has converted a 1960s nuclear bunker 100 miles from network hub Frankfurt into a state-of-the-art underground data center with very few operators and very little oxygen. IT Vision Technology (ITVT) CEO Jochen Klipfel says: 'We developed a solution that reduces the oxygen content in the air, so that even matches go outIt took us two years'. ITVT have the European Air Force among its customers, so security is an even higher priority than in the average DC build; the refurbished bunker has walls 11 feet thick and the central complex is buried twenty feet under the earth.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Dell 2015 XPS 13: Smallest 13" Notebook With Broadwell-U, QHD+ Display Reviewed

Slashdot - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 17:50
MojoKid writes Dell's 2015 XPS 13 notebook made a splash out at CES this year with its near bezel-less 13-inch QHD+ (3200X1800) display and Intel's new 5th Gen Core series Broadwell-U processor. At 2.8 pounds, the 2015 XPS 13 isn't the absolute lightest 13-inch ultrabook book out there but it's lighter than a 13-inch MacBook Air and only a few ounces heavier than Lenovo's Core M-powered Yoga 3 Pro. The machine's Z dimensions are thin, at .33" up front to .6" at its back edge. However, its 11.98" width almost defies the laws of physics, squeezing a 13.3" (diagonal) display into an 11.98-inch frame making it what is essentially the smallest 13-inch ultrabook to hit the market yet. Performance-wise, this review shows its benchmarks numbers are strong and Intel's Broadwell-U seems to be an appreciable upgrade versus the previous generation architecture, along with lower power consumption.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Canada Upholds Net Neutrality Rules In Wireless TV Case

Slashdot - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 17:09
An anonymous reader writes Canada's telecom regulator has issued a major new decision with implications for net neutrality, ruling that Bell and Videotron violated the Telecommunications Act by granting their own wireless television services an undue preference by exempting them from data charges. Michael Geist examines the decision, noting that the Commission grounded the decision in net neutrality concerns, stating the Bell and Videotron services "may end up inhibiting the introduction and growth of other mobile TV services accessed over the Internet, which reduces innovation and consumer choice."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Proposed Disk Array With 99.999% Availablity For 4 Years, Sans Maintenance

Slashdot - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 16:27
Thorfinn.au writes with this paper from four researchers (Jehan-François Pâris, Ahmed Amer, Darrell D. E. Long, and Thomas Schwarz, S. J.), with an interesting approach to long-term, fault-tolerant storage: As the prices of magnetic storage continue to decrease, the cost of replacing failed disks becomes increasingly dominated by the cost of the service call itself. We propose to eliminate these calls by building disk arrays that contain enough spare disks to operate without any human intervention during their whole lifetime. To evaluate the feasibility of this approach, we have simulated the behaviour of two-dimensional disk arrays with N parity disks and N(N – 1)/2 data disks under realistic failure and repair assumptions. Our conclusion is that having N(N + 1)/2 spare disks is more than enough to achieve a 99.999 percent probability of not losing data over four years. We observe that the same objectives cannot be reached with RAID level 6 organizations and would require RAID stripes that could tolerate triple disk failures.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

The Quantum Experiment That Simulates a Time Machine

Slashdot - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 15:45
KentuckyFC writes One of the extraordinary features of quantum mechanics is that one quantum system can simulate the behaviour of another that might otherwise be difficult to create. That's exactly what a group of physicists in Australia have done in creating a quantum system that simulates a quantum time machine. Back in the early 90s, physicists showed that a quantum particle could enter a region of spacetime that loops back on itself, known as a closed timelike curve, without creating grandfather-type paradoxes in which time travellers kill their grandfathers thereby ensuring they could never have existed to travel back in time in the first place. Nobody has ever built a quantum closed time-like curve but now they don't have to. The Australian team have simulated its behaviour by allowing two entangled photons to interfere with each other in a way that recreates the behaviour of a single photon interacting with an older version of itself. The results are in perfect agreement with predictions from the 1990s--there are no grandfather-type paradoxes. Interestingly, the results are entirely compatible with relativity, suggesting that this type of experiment might be an interesting way of reconciling it with quantum mechanics.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Georgia Institute of Technology Researchers Bridge the Airgap

Slashdot - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 15:01
An anonymous reader writes Hacked has a piece about Georgia Institute of Technology researchers keylogging from a distance using the electromagnetic radiation of CPUs. They can reportedly do this from up to 6 meters away. In this video, using two Ubuntu laptops, they demonstrate that keystrokes are easily interpreted with the software they have developed. In their white paper they talk about the need for more research in this area so that hardware and software manufacturers will be able to develop more secure devices. For now, Farraday cages don't seem as crazy as they used to, or do they?

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Why ATM Bombs May Be Coming Soon To the United States

Slashdot - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 14:07
HughPickens.com writes Nick Summers has an interesting article at Bloomberg about the epidemic of 90 ATM bombings that has hit Britain since 2013. ATM machines are vulnerable because the strongbox inside an ATM has two essential holes: a small slot in front that spits out bills to customers and a big door in back through which employees load reams of cash in large cassettes. "Criminals have learned to see this simple enclosure as a physics problem," writes Summers. "Gas is pumped in, and when it's detonated, the weakest part—the large hinged door—is forced open. After an ATM blast, thieves force their way into the bank itself, where the now gaping rear of the cash machine is either exposed in the lobby or inside a trivially secured room. Set off with skill, the shock wave leaves the money neatly stacked, sometimes with a whiff of the distinctive acetylene odor of garlic." The rise in gas attacks has created a market opportunity for the companies that construct ATM components. Several manufacturers now make various anti-gas-attack modules: Some absorb shock waves, some detect gas and render it harmless, and some emit sound, fog, or dye to discourage thieves in the act. As far as anyone knows, there has never been a gas attack on an American ATM. The leading theory points to the country's primitive ATM cards. Along with Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, and not many other countries, the U.S. doesn't require its plastic to contain an encryption chip, so stealing cards remains an effective, nonviolent way to get at the cash in an ATM. Encryption chip requirements are coming to the U.S. later this year, though. And given the gas raid's many advantages, it may be only a matter of time until the back of an American ATM comes rocketing off.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

CodeSOD: A Shining Perl

The Daily WTF - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 12:30

Ah, Perl. Often derided as a "write-only language", Perl nevertheless enjoys some level of popularity among WTF-savvy workplaces. So when David inherited a codebase through the purchase of a company staffed entirely with, what he had dubbed "mentally challenged chimpanzees", it seemed only natural that the code was entirely in Perl.

Dealing with financial transactions is one of the key features required for any online shopping or banking applications, and as such, it's more or less a solved problem by now. So of course, the perl gurus at ChimpanCorp reinvented the wheel with their Real-time Financial Processing app. It would calculate the user's balance every ten minutes by compiling all data posted since the last calculation, leading to a balance that was never more than ten minutes out of date! Of course, that's as good as you can possibly get when the calculation takes nine minutes to run. Still, the client was wondering if maybe the could speed up the calculations so it could run, say, every five minutes? Or maybe, hypothetically speaking, immediately after every transaction?

David dug into the codebase, clocking various methods -- it was best to limit his exposure to the actual code as much as possible, given the warning labels attached to the documentation. Something about eye strain and fecal matter... In any event, he finally pinpointed one method that was taking seven minutes to run. If he could shave off a few minutes from that, they might be able to hit the mythical five-minute benchmark.

The code, of course, had to run twenty queries on un-indexed SQL; adding a few indexes removed two minutes from the runtime, which unfortunately wasn't quite enough. So he dug into the queries themselves, carefully commenting as he went, saving a few seconds here and there with better optimized joins. And then he came to this gem:

my $mysql = 'SELECT TOP (1) n = (ROW_NUMBER() OVER (ORDER BY number))-1 FROM [master]..spt_values ORDER BY n'; my $mysth = $dbh->prepare($sql); $mysth->execute(1, 10); while (my @row = $sth->fetchrow_array) { $OurZero= $row[0]; }

David laughed, replacing this with a simple "$OurZero = 0", and moved on. One query down, only nineteen more to optimize. Four hours later, he reached the bottom of the method. This was it, what the entire seven-minute runtime was calculating:

return ($ReturnValue * $OurZero);

David stared at the return value, then up at the method he'd been labouring to understand all day. Seven. Minutes. With a final sigh, he went to the calling function and replaced the execution with this super-optimized bit of perl: if (1 == 2) { #Only run this if you've lost your mind CalculateZero(); }

Just as he checked his revision into the repository, a coworker popped his head into David's cube. "David, you will not BELIEVE how they're calculating dates!" she gushed.

"Somehow, I suspect I will."

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Categories: Fun/Other

The Big Bang By Balloon

Slashdot - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 11:27
StartsWithABang writes If you want to map the entire sky — whether you're looking in the visible, ultraviolet, infrared or microwave, your best bet is to go to space. Only high above the Earth's atmosphere can you map out the entire sky, with your vision unobscured by anything terrestrial. But that costs millions of dollars for the launch alone! What if you've got new technology you want to test? What if you still want to defeat most of the atmosphere? (Which you need to do, for most wavelengths of light.) And what if you want to make observations on large angular scales, something by-and-large impossible from the ground in microwave wavelengths? You launch a balloon! The Spider telescope has just completed its data-taking operations, and is poised to take the next step — beyond Planck and BICEP2 — in understanding the polarization of the cosmic microwave background.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Drone Maker Enforces No-Fly Zone Over DC, Hijacking Malware Demonstrated

Slashdot - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 09:07
An anonymous reader writes A recent incident at the White House showed that small aerial vehicles (drones) present a specific security problem. Rahul Sasi, a security engineer at Citrix R&D, created MalDrone, the first backdoor malware for the AR drone ARM Linux system to target Parrot AR Drones, but says it can be modified to target others as well. The malware can be silently installed on a drone, and be used to control the drone remotely and to conduct remote surveillance. Meanwhile, the Chinese company that created the drone that crashed on the White House grounds has announced a software update for its "Phantom" series that will prohibit flight within 25 kilometers of the capital.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Brain Implants Get Brainier

Slashdot - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 06:31
the_newsbeagle writes "Did my head just beep?" wonders a woman who just received a brain implant to treat her intractable epilepsy. We're entering a cyborg age of medicine, with implanted stimulators that send pulses of electricity into the brain or nervous system to prevent seizures or block pain. The first generation of devices sent out pulses in a constant and invariable rhythm, but device-makers are now inventing smart stimulators that monitor the body for signs of trouble and fire when necessary.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

One-in-five Developers Now Works On IoT Projects

Slashdot - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 04:02
dcblogs writes Evans Data Corp., which provides research and intelligence for the software development industry, said that of the estimated 19 million developers worldwide, 19% are now doing IoT-related work. A year ago, the first year IoT-specific data was collected, that figure was 17%. But when developers were asked whether they plan to work in IoT development over the next year, 44% of the respondents said they are planning to do so, said Michael Rasalan, director of research at Evans.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Spider Spins Electrically Charged Silk

Slashdot - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 02:13
sciencehabit writes In their quest to make ultrastrong yet ultrasmall fibers, the polymer industry may soon take a lesson from Uloborus spiders. Uloborids are cribellate spiders, meaning that instead of spinning wet, sticky webs to catch their prey, they produce a fluffy, charged, wool-like silk. A paper published online today in Biology Letters details the process for the first time. It all starts with the silk-producing cribellar gland. In contrast with other spiders, whose silk comes out of the gland intact, scientists were surprised to discover that uloborids' silk is in a liquid state when it surfaces. As the spider yanks the silk from the duct, it solidifies into nanoscale filaments. This "violent hackling" has the effect of stretching and freezing the fibers into shape. It may even be responsible for increasing their strength, because filaments on the nanoscale become stronger as they are stretched. In order to endow the fibers with an electrostatic charge, the spider pulls them over a comblike plate located on its hind legs. The technique is not unlike the so-called hackling of flax stems over a metal brush in order to soften and prepare them for thread-spinning, but in the spider's case it also gives them a charge. The electrostatic fibers are thought to attract prey to the web in the same way a towel pulled from the dryer is able to attract stray socks.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

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