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President Trump Misses 90-Day Deadline To Appoint a Cybersecurity Team After Alleged Russian Hacking

Slashdot - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 19:23
From a report: President-elect Donald Trump was very clear: "I will appoint a team to give me a plan within 90 days of taking office," he said in January, after getting a U.S. intelligence assessment of Russian interference in last year's elections and promising to address cybersecurity. Thursday, Trump hits his 90-day mark. There is no team, there is no plan, and there is no clear answer from the White House on who would even be working on what. It's the latest deadline Trump's set and missed -- from the press conference he said his wife would hold last fall to answer questions about her original immigration process to the plan to defeat ISIS that he'd said would come within his first 30 days in office. Since his inauguration, Trump's issued a few tweets and promises to get to the bottom of Russian hacking -- and accusations of surveillance of Americans, himself included, by the Obama administration.

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Discovery May Help Decipher Ancient Inca String Code

Slashdot - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 18:40
A discovery made in a remote mountain village high in the Peruvian Andes suggests that the ancient Inca used accounting devices made of knotted, colored strings for more than accounting. From a report on National Geographic: The devices, called khipus (pronounced kee-poos), used combinations of knots to represent numbers and were used to inventory stores of corn, beans, and other provisions. Spanish accounts from colonial times claim that Inca khipus also encoded history, biographies, and letters, but researchers have yet to decipher any non-numerical meaning in the cords and knots. Now a pair of khipus protected by Andean elders since colonial times may offer fresh clues for understanding how more elaborate versions of the devices could have stored and relayed information. "What we found is a series of complex color combinations between the cords," says Sabine Hyland, professor of anthropology at University of St Andrews in Scotland and a National Geographic Explorer. "The cords have 14 different colors that allow for 95 unique cord patterns. That number is within the range of symbols in logosyllabic writing systems." Hyland theorizes that specific combinations of colored strings and knots may have represented syllables or words.

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Wikipedia's 'Ban' of 'The Daily Mail' Didn't Really Happen

Slashdot - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 18:00
Earlier this year, The Guardian reported that editors at Wikipedia had "voted to ban the Daily Mail as a source for the website," calling the publication "generally unreliable." Two months later, not only previous Daily Mail citations on Wikipedia pages are still alive, several new ones have also appeared since. So what's going on? The Outline has the story: There are no rules on Wikipedia, just guidelines. Of Wikipedia's five "pillars," the fifth is that there are no firm rules. There is no formal hierarchy either, though the most dedicated volunteers can apply to become administrators with extra powers after being approved by existing admins. But even they don't say what goes on the site. If there's a dispute or a debate, editors post a "request for comment," asking whoever is interested to have their say. The various points are tallied up by an editor and co-signed by four more after a month, but it's not a vote as in a democracy. Instead, the aim is to reach consensus of opinion, and if that's not possible, to weigh the arguments and pick the side that's most compelling. There was no vote to ban the Daily Mail because Wikipedia editors don't vote. (emphasis ours.) So what happened? The article adds: In this case, an editor submitted a broader request for comment about its [the Daily Mail's] general reliability. Seventy-seven editors participated in the discussion and two thirds supported prohibiting the Daily Mail as a source, with one editor and four co-signing editors (more than usual) chosen among administrators declaring that a consensus, though further discussion continued on a separate noticeboard, alongside complaints that the debate should have been better advertised. Though it's discouraged, the Daily Mail can be (and still is) cited. An editor I met at a recent London "Wikimeet" said he'd used the Daily Mail as a source in the last week, as it was the only source available for the subject he was writing about.

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The Biggest Time Suck at the Office Might Be Your Computer

Slashdot - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 17:20
Sharing personal anecdotes and recent studies, a new report on Bloomberg blames outdated computers, decade-old operating systems and ageing equipments for being one of the biggest hurdles that prevents people from doing actual work in their offices. From the article: Slow, outdated computers and intermittent internet connections demoralize workers, a survey of 6,000 European workers said. Half of U.K. employees said creaking computers were "restrictive and limiting," and 38 percent said modern technology would make them more motivated, according to the survey, commissioned by electronics company Sharp. Scott's (a 25-year-old researcher who works at an insurance firm) PC runs the relatively up-to-date Windows 8 operating system, but his computer sometimes struggles to handle large spreadsheets and multiple documents open simultaneously, slowing him down. Others are in a worse spot. One in every eight business laptops and desktops worldwide still run Windows XP, which was introduced in 2001. [...] Some businesses can't help using old hardware or operating systems, because they use specialized software that also hasn't been brought up-to-date.

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MIT No Longer Owns 18.0.0.0/8

Slashdot - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 17:00
An anonymous reader shares: MIT no longer owns 18.0.0.0/8. That's a very big block of scarce IPv4 addresses that have become available again. One block inside this /8, more specifically 18.145.0.0/16, was transferred to Amazon.

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Microsoft To Shut Down Wunderlist, an App It Acquired Two Years Ago, In Favor Of Homegrown App To-Do

Slashdot - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 16:40
From a report on TechCrunch: Microsoft acquired the popular mobile to do list application Wunderlist back in 2015, and now it's preparing users for its eventual demise with the release of its new application "To-Do," it announced this week. The new app was built by the team behind Wunderlist, and will bring in the favorite elements of that app in the months ahead, Microsoft insists. The company also added that it won't shut down Wunderlist until it's confident that it has "incorporated the best of Wunderlist into To-Do." In case you're hoping Wunderlist will get some sort of reprieve, Microsoft makes its forthcoming demise pretty clear. Stating its plans in black-and-white: "we will retire Wunderlist," it says in a blog post. In the meantime, Microsoft is encouraging Wunderlist users to make the switch by offering an importer that will bring in your lists and to-dos from Wunderlist into To-Do, where those items will now be available in other Microsoft products, like Exchange and Outlook.

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Physicists Observe 'Negative Mass'

Slashdot - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 16:00
Physicists have created a fluid with "negative mass," which accelerates towards you when pushed. From a report on BBC: In the everyday world, when an object is pushed, it accelerates in the same direction as the force applied to it; this relationship is described by Isaac Newton's Second Law of Motion. But in theory, matter can have negative mass in the same sense that an electric charge can be positive or negative. Prof Peter Engels, from Washington State University (WSU), and colleagues cooled rubidium atoms to just above the temperature of absolute zero (close to -273C), creating what's known as a Bose-Einstein condensate. In this state, particles move extremely slowly, and following behaviour predicted by quantum mechanics, acting like waves. They also synchronise and move together in what's known as a superfluid, which flows without losing energy.

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China To Question Apple About Live-Streaming Apps On App Store That Violate Internet Regulations

Slashdot - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 15:00
Three Chinese government agencies are planning to tell Apple to "tighten up checks" on live-streaming software offered on its app store, which can be used to violate internet regulation in the country. "Law enforcement officers had already met with Apple representatives over live-streaming services, [state news agency Xinhua reported], but did not provide details of the meetings," reports The Guardian. From the report: The inquiry appears to be focused on third-party apps available for download through Apple's online marketplace. The company did not respond to requests for comment. China operates the world's largest internet censorship regime, blocking a host of foreign websites including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but the authorities have struggled to control an explosion in popularity of live-streaming video apps. As part of the inquiry into live-streaming, three Chinese websites -- toutiao.com, huoshanzhibo.com and huajiao.com -- were already found to have violated internet regulations, and had broadcast content that violated Chinese law, including providing "pornographic content," the Xinhua report said. Pornography is banned in China. The three sites were told to increase oversight of live-broadcasting services, user registration and "the handling of tips-offs." Two of the websites, huoshanzhibo.com and huajiao.com, were under formal investigation and may have their cases transferred to the police for criminal prosecutions, the Xinhua report said. Casting a wide net, the regulations state that apps cannot "engage in activities prohibited by laws and regulations such as endangering national security, disrupting social order and violating the legitimate rights and interests of others."

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95% Engineers in India Unfit For Software Development Jobs: Report

Slashdot - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 14:30
An anonymous reader shares a report: Talent shortage is acute in the IT and data science ecosystem in India with a survey claiming that 95 percent of engineers in the country are not fit to take up software development jobs. According to a study by employability assessment company Aspiring Minds, only 4.77 percent candidates can write the correct logic for a programme -- a minimum requirement for any programming job. Over 36,000 engineering students form IT related branches of over 500 colleges took Automata -- a Machine Learning based assessment of software development skills -- and over 2/3 could not even write code that compiles.

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No, Millennials Aren't a Bunch of Job-Hopping Flakes

Slashdot - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 14:00
From a report: Today, Pew researchers published findings that refute yet another stereotype about millennials that actual millennials find infuriating: the idea that they're job-hopping more often than other generations. According to Pew's analysis of recent government data, "college-educated millennials are sticking with their jobs longer than their Gen X counterparts."

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Qualcomm Collected Partial iPhone Royalties Despite Legal Battle With Apple

Slashdot - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 12:00
From a report: Qualcomm continued to collect some royalties for Apple's use of its wireless technology in iPhones last year despite dueling lawsuits between the two mobile giants, cheering Qualcomm investors who feared that the payments had entirely dried up. Qualcomm said on Wednesday that Apple's contract manufacturers including Foxconn paid royalties, although they withheld around $1 billion from the undisclosed total amount due. The amount withheld equaled the amount Qualcomm withheld from Apple last year under a separate agreement to cooperate on mobile technology that has since expired.

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South Indian Frog Oozes Molecule That Inexplicably Decimates Flu Viruses

Slashdot - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 09:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: From the slimy backs of a South Indian frog comes a new way to blast influenza viruses. A compound in the frog's mucus -- long known to have germ-killing properties -- can latch onto flu virus particles and cause them to burst apart, researchers report in Immunity. The peptide is a potent and precise killer, able to demolish a whole class of flu viruses while leaving other viruses and cells unharmed. But scientists don't know exactly how it pulls off the viral eviscerations. No other antiviral peptide of its ilk seems to work the same way. The study authors, led by researchers at Emory University, note that the peptide appears uniquely nontoxic -- something that can't be said of many other frog-based compounds. Thus, the peptide on its own holds promise of being a potential therapy someday. But simply figuring out how it works could move researchers closer to a vaccine or therapy that could take out all flus, ditching the need for yearly vaccinations for each season's flavor of flu.

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States Are Moving To Cut College Costs By Introducing Open-Source Textbooks

Slashdot - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 05:30
In an effort to curb the rising cost of textbooks, which went up by 88% between 2006 and 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Maryland and New York have announced initiatives that adopt open-source, copyright-free textbooks. The initiatives will reward colleges who adapt or scale the use of OER (open educational resources) -- "materials like electronic textbooks that typically use licenses that are far less restrictive than traditional, copyrighted textbooks," reports Quartz. From the report: The University System of Maryland recently announced that it would be giving out 21 "mini-grants" to seven community colleges and five public four-year schools. The grants will go to "faculty who are adopting, adapting or scaling the use of OER [open educational resources] in Fall 2017 through high-enrollment courses where quality OER exists," according to the announcement. Although the mini-grants are only $500 to $2,500 each, the effort in Maryland is expected to save 8,000 students up to $1.3 million in the Fall 2017 semester alone. That's a significant amount, but just a drop in the bucket of what students in the state spend on textbooks each year. Another big investment in open educational resources came in the budget passed in New York state last week. The news was somewhat buried by the fact that the budget includes free tuition for New York students whose families make up to $125,000 a year, but the state will also be putting $8 million into open source materials over the next fiscal year.

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First Evidence For Higher State of Consciousness Found

Slashdot - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 02:30
New submitter baalcat quotes a report from Neuroscience News: Neuroscientists observed a sustained increase in neural signal diversity -- a measure of the complexity of brain activity -- of people under the influence of psychedelic drugs, compared with when they were in a normal waking state. The diversity of brain signals provides a mathematical index of the level of consciousness. For example, people who are awake have been shown to have more diverse neural activity using this scale than those who are asleep. This, however, is the first study to show brain-signal diversity that is higher than baseline, that is higher than in someone who is simply "awake and aware." Previous studies have tended to focus on lowered states of consciousness, such as sleep, anesthesia, or the so-called "vegetative" state. For the study, Michael Schartner, Dr Adam Barrett and Professor Seth of the Sackler Center reanalyzed data that had previously been collected by Imperial College London and the University of Cardiff in which healthy volunteers were given one of three drugs known to induce a psychedelic state: psilocybin, ketamine and LSD. Using brain imaging technology, they measured the tiny magnetic fields produced in the brain and found that, across all three drugs, this measure of conscious level -- the neural signal diversity -- was reliably higher. The findings have been published in Scientific Reports.

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Navy, Marines Prohibit Sharing Nude Photos In Wake of a Facebook Scandal

Slashdot - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 01:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: The Navy and Marine Corps issued new regulations that ban members from sharing nude photographs following a scandal involving military personnel sharing intimate pictures of their female colleagues -- some of which were taken without their knowledge -- in a secret Facebook group. The new statute, which was signed Tuesday by Acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley, went into effect immediately and will be made permanent when the next edition of the Navy's regulations is printed, according to Navy Times. Military courts will handle violations of the new rule. The crackdown comes after a Facebook group was uncovered featuring naked photos of female service members. The group was eventually shut down by Facebook after a request from the Marine Corps. The Center for Investigative Reporting found that some of the photographs posted on the Facebook group may have been taken consensually, but others may not have been.

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Ask Slashdot: What Are Good Books On Inventing, Innovating and Doing R&D?

Slashdot - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 01:10
dryriver writes: I've signed up to a project that involves inventing new ways to do things and also performing the technology R&D required to make these new ways a reality. So, dear Slashdotters, are there any good books on inventing, innovating or doing R&D? Books that describe different ways to approach inventing/R&D? Books on managing a team effort to invent, innovate and research? Or even good books about the history of past inventions -- how they were created, why they were created, how and why they succeeded or failed in the real world? Thanks!

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Toyota Unveils Plan For Hydrogen Powered Semi Truck

Slashdot - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 00:30
New submitter omaha393 quotes a report from R&D Magazine: Toyota announced a new initiative on Wednesday aimed at advancing its work in vehicles powered by alternative energy sources. The automaker unveiled Project Portal, which is a novel hydrogen fuel cell system designed for heavy duty truck use at the Port of Los Angeles. A proof-of-concept truck powered by this fuel cell will be part of a feasibility study held at the Port this summer, with the goal of examining the potential of this technology in heavy-duty applications. The test vehicle will produce more than 670 horsepower and 1,325 pound feet of torque from two of these novel fuel cell stacks along with a 12kWh battery. Overall, the combined weight capacity is 80,000 pounds that will be carried over 200 miles. omaha393 adds: "While hydrogen fuel has been criticized due to high cost of production and safety concerns, recent advances in catalysis and solid storage systems have made the prospect of hydrogen fuel an attractive commercial prospect for the future."

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Tesla Settles Lawsuit Against Former Autopilot Program Director Accused of Stealing Info, Engineers

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 23:50
Earlier this year, Tesla filed a lawsuit against its former director of Autopilot Programs, Sterling Anderson, for stealing proprietary information about the Autopilot program and recruiting fellow Tesla engineers to work with him at Aurora Innovation, another autonomous driving company. According to Electrek, "the lawsuit was settled today with Tesla withdrawing their allegations without damages and Aurora agreeing to make itself available for an audit by a third-party to make sure they don't have proprietary information from Tesla's Autopilot program." From the report: Aurora also agreed to cover the cost of the audit for up to $100,000. The startup claims that it had already ordered its own audit, which found âoeno material Tesla confidential information." As for the allegations of poaching employees, Aurora has agreed not to reach out to Tesla employees for a year and to release the names of former Tesla employees who have joined the startup already. You can read Auroraâ(TM)s statement about the settlement in full here and Teslaâ(TM)s further down below: âoeSelf-driving vehicles will save lives, preserve resources, and make transportation more accessible and enjoyable for everyone. Aurora was founded on the premise that experience, innovative thinking, hard work, and a commitment to doing the right thing can accelerate this future..."

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Microsoft's Skype Is Most Used Messaging Service For Cyber Criminals, Study Finds

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 23:10
chicksdaddy quotes a report from The Security Ledger: Cyber criminals lurk in the dark recesses of the internet, striking at random and then disappearing into the virtual ether. But when they want to talk shop with their colleagues, they turn to Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft and its Skype communications tools, according to an analysis by the firm Flashpoint. Mentions of different platforms were used as a proxy for gauging interest in and use of these messaging services. Flashpoint analysts looked, especially, for invitations to continue conversation outside of cyber criminal marketplaces, like references to ICQ accounts or other platforms. The survey results show that, out of a population of around 80 instant messenger platforms and protocols, a short list of just five platforms accounts for between 80% and 90% of all mentions within the cyber underground. Of those, Microsoft's Skype was the chat king. It ranked among the top five platforms across all language groups. That, despite the platform's lack of end-to-end encryption or forward secrecy features and evidence, courtesy of NSA hacker Edward Snowden, that U.S. spies may have snooped on Skype video calls in recent years, The Security Ledger reports. The conclusion: while security is a priority amongst thieves, it isn't the sole concern that cyber criminals and their associates have. In fact, sophisticated hacking communities like those in Russia to continue to rely on legacy platforms like ICQ when provably more secure alternatives exist. The reason? Business. "These cyber criminals have a lot of different options that they're juggling and a lot of factors that weigh on their options," said Leroy Terrelonge III, the Director of Middle East and Africa Research at Flashpoint. "We might suspect that cyber criminals use the most secure means of communication all the time, that's not what our research showed."

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Pirate Bay Founder Launches Anonymous Domain Registration Service

Slashdot - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 22:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: Former Pirate Bay spokesperson and co-founder Peter Sunde has just announced his latest venture. Keeping up his fight for privacy on the Internet, he's launching a new company called Njalla, that helps site operators to shield their identities from prying eyes. The name Njalla refers to the traditional hut that Sami people use to keep predators at bay. It's built on a tall stump of a tree or pole and is used to store food or other goods. On the Internet, Njalla helps to keep people's domain names private. While anonymizer services aren't anything new, Sunde's company takes a different approach compared to most of the competition. With Njalla, customers don't buy the domain names themselves, they let the company do it for them. This adds an extra layer of protection but also requires some trust. A separate agreement grants the customer full usage rights to the domain. This also means that people are free to transfer it elsewhere if they want to.

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