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Updated: 1 year 4 weeks ago

Can Cow Backpacks Reduce Global Methane Emissions?

Sat, 2016-08-20 13:30
Slashdot reader schwit1 shares an article from Bloomberg which argues "It's time to have a conversation about flatulent cows." "Enteric fermentation," or livestock's digestive process, accounts for 22 percent of all U.S. methane emissions, and the manure they produce makes up eight percent more, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency... Methane, like carbon, is a greenhouse gas, but methane's global warming impact per molecule is 25 times greater than carbon's, according to the EPA. Cargill has tried capturing some of the methane released from cow manure by using domed lagoons, while researchers at Danone yogurt discovered they could reduce methane emissions up to 30% by feeding cows a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (mostly from flax seed). But now Argentina researchers are testing plastic "methane backpacks" which they strap on to the back of cows, and according to the article "have been able to extract 300 liters of methane a day, enough to power a car or refrigerator."

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Categories: Technical

Microsoft Announces 'Cumulative' Updates Will Become Mandatory For Windows 7 and 8.1

Sat, 2016-08-20 12:30
Microsoft's now changing the way updates are delivered for Windows 7 and 8.1. Slashdot reader JustAnotherOldGuy writes: Microsoft's Senior Product Marketing Manager Nathan Mercer just announced that, "From October 2016 onwards, Windows will release a single Monthly Rollup that addresses both security issues and reliability issues in a single update... Each month's rollup will supersede the previous month's rollup, so there will always be only one update required for your Windows PCs to get current." What this means is that individual patches will no longer be available after October 2016, and Windows 7 and Windows 8 users will now only have two choices: stop updating completely and leave your computers vulnerable to security holes, or accept everything single thing Microsoft sends you whether you want it or not. Microsoft says their new approach "increases Windows operating system reliability, by eliminating update fragmentation and providing more proactive patches for known issues." They added that "Several update types aren't included in a rollup, such as those for Servicing Stack and Adobe Flash," and that "the .NET Framework will also follow the Monthly Rollup model."

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Categories: Technical

MIT Announces VR and AR Hackathon

Sat, 2016-08-20 11:30
Calling it "A weekend that transforms the future of immersive technologies," MIT's Media Lab is hosting a big Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality hackathon. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes this report from UploadVR: Game jams, hackathons, and meetups are more popular than ever in the budding VR and AR communities...to focus on creativity and functionality, rather than getting bogged down by polishing and prepping something for launch. The MIT Media Lab is officially announcing its backing of the appropriately titled Reality, Virtually Hackathon. The hackathon is organized by a multitude of VR/AR experts, developers, industry executives, and MIT students, alumni, and Ph.D. candidates and will take place at the MIT campus. Sponsors include Microsoft and the AT&T Developer Program, and applications for the hackathon are due by Wednesday, September 7, 2016. I'm wondering if any Slashdot readers have tried writing (or using) VR apps.

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Categories: Technical

How the H-1B Visa Program Impacts America's Tech Workers

Sat, 2016-08-20 10:30
Computerworld is running an emotional report by their national correspondent Patrick Thibodeau -- complete with a dramatic video -- arguing that America's H-1B Visa program "has also become a way for companies to outsource jobs." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the article accompanying the video: The vast majority of people who work in IT did everything right: They invested in their education, studied difficult subjects, kept their skills updated... But no job is safe, no future entirely secure -- something IT workers know more than most. Given their role, they are most often the change agents, the people who deploy technologies and bring in automation that can turn workplaces upside down. To survive, they count on being smart, self-reliant and one step ahead... Over the years, Computerworld reporter Patrick Thibodeau has interviewed scores of IT workers who trained their visa-holding replacements. Though details each time may differ, they all tell the same basic story. There are many issues around high-skilled immigration, but to grasp the issue fully you need to understand how the H-1B program can affect American workers.

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Categories: Technical

100 Unofficial Mods Released for 'No Man's Sky'

Sat, 2016-08-20 09:30
Eleven days after its release, No Man's Sky already has over 100 unofficial mods by fans intent on improving the game. "We don't have time to wait for official dev tools to fix what can be fixed by us," one modder told Motherboard. "We definitely want the official tools ASAP but honestly, the players need a game that actually launches and plays at decent FPS first." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the article: In an email to one customer, Hello Games revealed that it will be releasing patches this week and next which will "help to improve the experience further for players" but it is unlikely that the promised official modding tools will be released in the near future... Among the [unofficial] mods available for anyone to download are ones to...replace the system font with one from Star Trek, disable annoying audio warnings, and replace a "Units Received" alert with "the Rick 'Wubba Lubba Dub Dub' sound bite from Rick and Morty"... The Instagram Filter Remover mod is among the most popular on the No Man's Sky Mods website promising to remove "the stupid Instagram filter from the game"...making everything sharper and clearer. That last mod has been downloaded 17,655 times so far, and by Friday the site had almost 800,000 views and 60,000 downloads. There's two other mods that add Dr. Who sound clips into the game, and the article notes fans are clamoring for more, "including one request to replace all the voice lines in the game with William Shatner quotes."

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Categories: Technical

Computer Science Professor Mocks The NSA's Buggy Code

Sat, 2016-08-20 08:30
After performing hours of analysis, a computer science professor says he's "not impressed" by the quality of the recently-leaked code that's supposedly from an NSA hacking tool. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: The professor, who teaches Software Vulnerability Analysis and Advanced Computer Security at the University of Illinois, Chicago, gripes about the cryptography operations employed in the code of an exploit called BANANAGLEE, used against Fortinet firewalls. Some of his criticism include the words "ridiculous", "very bad", "crazy" and "boring memory leaks". "I would expect relatively bug-free code. And I would expect minimal cryptographic competence. None of those were true of the code I examined which was quite surprising," the professor told Softpedia in an email. If these were cyberweapons, "I'm pretty underwhelmed by their quality," professor Checkoway writes on his blog, adding that he found "sloppy and buggy code," no authentication of the encrypted communication channel, 128-bit keys generated using 64 bits of entropy, and cypher initialization vectors that leaked bits of the hash of the plain text...

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Categories: Technical

Amazon To Experiment With Part-Time Tech Teams

Sat, 2016-08-20 07:30
Elizabeth Weise, reporting from USATODAY: In an effort to lure hard-to-hire tech workers and possibly recast its reputation as a harsh workplace, Amazon plans to pilot a program of part-time teams composed entirely of employees putting in 30-hour weeks. The Seattle company will test using entire teams of engineers and tech staff who will all work 30 hours a week, thus side-stepping many of the problems faced by part-time workers in a full-time environment. The pilot teams' core hours would be Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 2 pm, with flexible hours throughout the week. The 30-hour groups would receive the same benefits as 40-hour-a-week employees but less pay, Amazon said. The plan is smart from a recruiting standpoint and a unique strategy in the highly competitive tech world, said Kate Kennedy with the Society for Human Resource Management.

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Categories: Technical

Fedora 25 To Run Wayland By Default Instead Of X.Org Server

Sat, 2016-08-20 05:00
An anonymous reader writes: Fedora 25 will finally be the first release for this Linux distribution -- and the first tier-one desktop Linux OS at large -- that is going ahead and using Wayland by default. Wayland has been talked about for years as a replacement to the xorg-server and finally with the upcoming Fedora 25 release this is expected to become a reality. The X.Org Server will still be present on Fedora systems for those running into driver problems or other common issues. Fedora's steering committee agreed to the change provided the release notes "are clear about how to switch back to X11 if needed." In addition, according to the Fedora Project's wiki, "The code will automatically fall back to Xorg in cases where Wayland is unavailable (like NVIDIA)."

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Categories: Technical

Astronauts Successfully Install Parking Spot At ISS

Sat, 2016-08-20 01:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: With more private spaceship traffic expected at the International Space Station in the coming years, two U.S. astronauts embarked on a spacewalk Friday to install a special parking spot for them. Americans Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins switched their spacesuits to internal battery power at 8:04 (1204 GMT) and floated outside the orbiting laboratory to begin the work of attaching the first of two international docking adaptors. The spacewalkers finished the task in just over two hours. "With that, we have a new port of call," said NASA commentator Rob Navias, as the space station flew over Singapore at 10:40 am (1440 GMT). NASA describes the docking adaptor as a "metaphorical gateway to a future" that will allow a new generation of U.S. spacecraft -- the first since the space shuttle program ended in 2011 -- to carry astronauts to the space station. The second docking adaptor is expected to be installed in 2018. Built by Boeing, the circular adaptor measures around 42 inches (one meter) tall and about 63 inches wide. The adaptors will work with Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon, two spaceships under construction that are planned to ferry astronauts to the space station. The docking adaptor is more sophisticated than past equipment because it will allow automatic parking instead of the current grapple and berthing process, which is managed by astronauts.

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Categories: Technical

Marijuana Provides More Pain Relief For Men Than Woman, Says Study

Fri, 2016-08-19 21:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from PsyPost: Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) found that men had greater pain relief than women after smoking marijuana. In this study, the researchers analyzed data from two double-blinded, placebo-controlled studies looking at the analgesic effects of cannabis in 42 recreational marijuana smokers. After smoking the same amount of either an active or placebo form of cannabis, the participants immersed one hand in a a cold-water bath until the pain could no longer be tolerated. Following the immersion, the participants answered a short pain questionnaire. After smoking active cannabis, men reported a significant decrease in pain sensitivity and an increase in pain tolerance. Women did not experience a significant decrease in pain sensitivity, although they reported a small increase in pain tolerance shortly after smoking. "These findings come at a time when more people, including women, are turning to the use of medical cannabis for pain relief," said Ziva Cooper, PhD, associate professor of clinical neurobiology (in psychiatry) at CUMC. "Preclinical evidence has suggested that the experience of pain relief from cannabis-related products may vary between sexes, but no studies have been done to see if this is true in humans." You can view the results of the study online in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

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Categories: Technical

Oracle Is Funding a New Anti-Google Group

Fri, 2016-08-19 19:30
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Fortune: Oracle says it is funding a new non-profit called "Campaign for Accountability," which consists of a campaign called "The Google Transparency Project" that claims to expose criminal behavior carried out by Google. "Oracle is absolutely a contributor (one of many) to the Transparency Project. This is important information for the public to know. It is 100 percent public records and accurate," said Ken Glueck, Senior Vice President of Oracle. Fortune reports: "Oracle's hidden hand is not a huge surprise since the company has a history of sneaky PR tactics, and is still embroiled in a bitter intellectual property lawsuit with Google." One would think Microsoft may be another contributor, but the company said it is not. Daniel Stevens, the deputy director of the CfA, declined to name the group's other donors, or to explain why it does not disclose its funders. Why does this matter? "When wealthy companies or individuals pose as a grass-roots group like the so-called 'campaign for accountability' project, [it] can confuse news and public relations, and foster public cynicism," writes Jeff John Roberts via Fortune.

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Categories: Technical

Comcast Rolls Out $70-Per-Month Gigabit Internet Service In Chicago

Fri, 2016-08-19 18:50
An anonymous reader writes from a report via PC Magazine: Comcast is now offering Chicagoans gigabit internet speeds. PC Magazine reports: "Launched on Wednesday, the program uses DOCSIS 3.1 technology to deliver speeds up to 1Gbps over existing network infrastructure. DOCSIS 3.1 runs through standard cable connections already in place at your home or office. So Xfinity and Comcast Business Internet customers can simply sign up for a plan and plug in a new modem; no fiber installation required. The service, according to Comcast, allows you to download a 5GB HD movie in 40 seconds, a 60MB TV episode in four seconds, a 150MB music album in two seconds, or a 15GB video game in two minutes. Initial users have the choice of a promotional contract price of $70 per month for 36 months, or $139.95 per month (plus tax and fees) with no contract."

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Categories: Technical

EFF Accuses T-Mobile of Violating Net Neutrality With Throttled Video

Fri, 2016-08-19 18:10
An anonymous reader writes: T-Mobile's new "unlimited" data plan that throttles video has upset the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which accuses the company of violating net neutrality principles. The new $70-per-month unlimited data plan "limits video to about 480p resolution and requires customers to pay an extra $25 per month for high-definition video," reports Ars Technica. "Going forward, this will be the only plan offered to new T-Mobile customers, though existing subscribers can keep their current prices and data allotments." EFF Senior Staff Technologist Jeremy Gillula told the Daily Dot, "From what we've read thus far it seems like T-Mobile's new plan to charge its customers extra to not throttle video runs directly afoul of the principle of net neutrality." The FCC's net neutrality rules ban throttling, though Ars notes "there's a difference between violating 'the principle of net neutrality' and violating the FCC's specific rules, which have exceptions to the throttling ban and allow for case-by-case judgements." "Because our no-throttling rule addresses instances in which a broadband provider targets particular content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, it does not address a practice of slowing down an end user's connection to the internet based on a choice made by the end user," says the FCC's Open Internet Order (PDF). "For instance, a broadband provider may offer a data plan in which a subscriber receives a set amount of data at one speed tier and any remaining data at a lower tier." The EFF is still determining whether or not to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.

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Categories: Technical

Google Will Kill Chrome Apps For Windows, Mac, and Linux In Early 2018

Fri, 2016-08-19 17:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google today announced plans to kill off Chrome apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux in early 2018. Chrome extensions and themes will not be affected, while Chrome apps will continue to live on in Chrome OS. Here's the deprecation timeline: Late 2016: Newly published Chrome apps will not be available to Windows, Mac, and Linux users (when developers submit apps to the Chrome Web Store, they will only show up for Chrome OS). Existing Chrome apps will remain available as they are today and developers can continue to update them. Second half of 2017: The Chrome Web Store will no longer show Chrome apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Early 2018: Chrome apps will not load on Windows, Mac, and Linux. There appears to be two main reasons why Google is killing Chrome apps off now. First, as Google explains in a blog post: "For a while there were certain experiences the web couldn't provide, such as working offline, sending notifications, and connecting to hardware. We launched Chrome apps three years ago to bridge this gap. Since then, we've worked with the web standards community to enable an increasing number of these use cases on the web. Developers can use powerful new APIs such as service worker and web push to build robust Progressive Web Apps that work across multiple browsers." Secondly, Chrome apps aren't very popular: "Today, approximately 1 percent of users on Windows, Mac and Linux actively use Chrome packaged apps, and most hosted apps are already implemented as regular web apps. Chrome on Windows, Mac, and Linux will therefore be removing support for packaged and hosted apps over the next two years."

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Categories: Technical

Scammers Use Harvard Education Platform to Promote Pirated Movies

Fri, 2016-08-19 16:30
TorrentFreak reports: Spammers are using Harvard's educational sharing tool H2O to promote pirated movies. Thousands of links to scammy sites have appeared on the site in recent weeks. Copyright holders are not happy with this unintended use and are targeting the pages with various takedown notices. H2O is a tool that allows professors and students to share learning material in a more affordable way. It is a welcome system that's actively used by many renowned scholars. However, in recent weeks the platform was also discovered by scammers. As a result, it quickly filled up with many links to pirated content. Instead of course instructions and other educational material, the H2O playlists of these scammers advertise pirated movies. The scammers in question are operating from various user accounts and operate much like traditional spam bots, offering pages with movie links and related keywords such as putlocker, megashare, viooz, torrent and YIFY.

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Categories: Technical

Apple Launching Reality TV Show Called 'Planet of the Apps'

Thu, 2016-07-14 04:00
theodp writes: The Verge reports Apple is making good on an earlier threat to create a reality TV show about app developers. An open casting call has been issued for "Planet of the Apps," with the goal of finding "100 of the world's most talented app creators" -- news which VentureBeat suggests must be making Steve Jobs' ghost weep. Apple has teamed up with Propagate, a new production company created by the producer of "The Biggest Loser." The description of the show says: "Join us on the search for the next great app in a new original series. Those selected will have the chance to receive hands-on guidance from some of the most influential experts in the tech community, featured placement on the App Store, and funding from top-tier VCs." The show is expected to be released in 2017.

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Categories: Technical

Windows Malware Poses As Ransomware, Just Deletes Victims' Files

Thu, 2016-07-14 01:00
An anonymous reader writes: Ranscam, a ransom malware reported by Cisco's Talos Security Intelligence group, claims to have encrypted victims' files and hold them for ransom, but in actuality it has already deleted those files and is simply trying to trick its victims into paying to recover files that are no longer there anymore. SlashGear reports: "Most ransomware follow a similar tactic once they get control of a computer or mobile device. They encrypt certain files, personal documents are a favorite, and then display a message instructing the user to pay, usually with bitcoins, to receive the decryption key to save their files. Ranscam, however, is completely without honor, as much honor as you can find among thieves and scam artists. It claims to have encrypted the users' files and then makes the usual demand. However, it adds an additional threat. For each time the user clicks on the 'payment sent' button but no payment was received, it threatens it will delete a file. That, however, is a total farce. In truth, files have already been deleted, so whether the victim pays or not is moot. The perpetrators don't have any way to recover those deleted files anyway. Also, the threats it flashes users are simply static images fetched from a remote server. Users might just as well be clicking on a two-slide presentation. The good news is that reported Ranscam infections are small, according to Cisco's Talos Security Intelligence group."

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Categories: Technical

Tor Project Installs New Board of Directors After Jacob Appelbaum Controversy

Wed, 2016-07-13 21:30
An anonymous reader writes: The Tor Project announced today that is has elected an entirely new board of directors as part of a larger shake-up after accusations of misconduct by former employee Jacob Appelbaum. Appelbaum left the company in June after the nonprofit organization said it had received multiple accusations against him. The seven board members that are leaving the organization said in a statement today that it is their "duty to ensure that the Tor Project has the best possible leadership." The New York Times reports that the board agreed to step down following the controversy surrounding Appelbaum. Some of the board members who will be leaving include Tor Project co-founders Roger Dingledine and Nick Mathewson, who will continue to work on the organization's technical research and development team, according to the statement. They will be replaced with several prominent cryptographers and scholars, including University of Pennsylvania professor Matt Blaze, Electronic Frontier Foundation Executive Director Cindy Cohn, and security technologist Bruce Schneier. Meanwhile, researchers at MIT have been working on a new anonymity network that they say is more secure than Tor.

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Categories: Technical

Theresa May Becomes UK's 'Spy Queen' and New Prime Minister

Wed, 2016-07-13 19:30
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: Theresa May has become the new British Prime Minister. As she sat down with the Queen on Wednesday, a controversial surveillance draft legislation that looks to significantly increase surveillance of Brits' online activity will be debated during its second committee stage day in the House of Lords. Ars Technica reports: "The Investigatory Powers Act could be in place within months of May arriving at Number 10 -- if peers and legal spats fail to scupper its passage through parliament -- after MPs recently waved it through having secured only minor amendments to the bill. As home secretary, May fought for six years to get her so-called Snoopers' Charter onto the statute books." According to Ars Technica, Theresa May's key political moments on the Investigatory Powers Bill start in 1997 when she became the Member of Parliament for Maidenhead. During her opposition years, her home affairs record shows that she generally votes against the Labour government's more draconian measures on topics such as anti-terrorism and ID cards. Mid-2009: May votes against requiring ISPs to retain certain categories of communications data, which they generate or process, for a minimum period of 12 months. 2010: She was appointed home secretary in coalition government between the Conservatives and junior partner the Liberal Democrats. 2011: The previous government's shelved Interception Modernization Program is rebranded as the Communications Capabilities Development Program (CCDP) by home office under May. Mid-2012: The CCDP morphs into Communications Data Bill, which is brought before parliament. Late-2012: May's Snoopers' Charter bid fails as deputy PM Nick Clegg orders the home office to go back to the drawing board. Mid-2014: May rushes what she characterizes as an "emergency" Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill through parliament, after the European Court of Justice invalidates the Data Retention Directive for failing to have adequate privacy safeguards in place. Late-2015: British security services have intercepted bulk communications data of UK citizens for years, May reveals to MPs for the first time as she brings her revamped Snoopers' Charter bid -- this time dubbed the Investigatory Powers Bill (IPB) -- before parliament. Mid-2016: MPs support thrust of IPB as it passes through the House of Commons. July 13, 2016: Theresa May becomes the UK's new prime minister as peers in the House of Lords undertake a second day of committee stage scrutiny of the Investigatory Powers Bill. UPDATE 7/13/16: Boris Johnson, the former London mayor who led the Brexit campaign, has been made foreign secretary by the new Prime Minister Theresa May.

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Categories: Technical

Ex-Google Engineer Launches Blockchain-Based System For Banks

Wed, 2016-07-13 18:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: A former Google engineer, whose speech recognition software is used in more than a billion Android smartphones, has launched a company that uses blockchain technology to build a new operating system for banks. Paul Taylor, a Cambridge University academic with an expertise in artificial intelligence, speech synthesis and machine learning, started working on the system, called Vault OS, two years ago in a basement in London's Shoreditch district, known for being a tech start-up hub. The technology, which underpins the digital currency bitcoin, creates a shared database in which participants can trace every transaction ever made. The ledger is tamper-proof and transparent, meaning that transactions can be processed without the need for third-party verification. The system also negates the need for costly in-house data centers, as it uses cloud-based systems, which banks can use on a "pay-as-you-go" basis, which means that there is no single point of failure. Taylor said major high-street banks were spending around a billion pounds ($1.3 billion) a year on computer technology, much of which he said was being used for propping up the current "legacy" systems rather than on any innovative technology. The start-up has been working with about ten banks, Taylor said, at least one of which would be starting a trial using the new system in August. He expects the system to be up-and-running within about a year. In banking-related news, a Congressional report shows that China's spies hacked into computers at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) from 2010 until 2013 and American government officials tried to cover it up.

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Categories: Technical