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United States

Microsoft To US Gov't: the World's Servers Are Not Yours For the Taking 192

Posted by Soulskill
from the back-off dept.
Microsoft is currently fighting a legal battle with the U.S. government, who wants to search the company's servers in Ireland using a U.S. search warrant. An anonymous reader points out a new court filing from Microsoft that argues the U.S. itself would never stand for such reasoning from other governments. Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith writes, If the Government prevails, how can it complain if foreign agents require tech companies to download emails stored in the U.S.? This is a question the Department of Justice hasn’t yet addressed, much less answered. Yet the Golden Rule applies to international relations as well as to other human interaction. In one important sense, the issues at stake are even bigger than this. The Government puts at risk the fundamental privacy rights Americans have valued since the founding of the postal service. This is because it argues that, unlike your letters in the mail, emails you store in the cloud cease to belong exclusively to you. Instead, according to the Government, your emails become the business records of a cloud provider. Because business records have a lower level of legal protection, the Government claims it can use a different and broader legal authority to reach emails stored anywhere in the world.
Biotech

Material Possiblities: A Flying Drone Built From Fungus 52

Posted by timothy
from the mushroom-treatment dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes What if you could construct an unmanned aerial vehicle out of biological material, specifically a lightweight-but-strong one known as mycelium? The vegetative part of a fungus, mycelium is already under consideration as a building material; other materials would include cellulose sheets, layered together into "leather," as well as starches worked into a "bioplastic." While a mushroom-made drone is probably years away from takeoff, a proposal for the device caught some attention at this year's International Genetically Engineered Machine competition. Designed by a team of students from Brown, Spelman, and Stanford Universities in conjunction with researchers from NASA, such a drone would (theoretically) offer a cheap and lightweight way to get a camera and other tools airborne. 'If we want to fly it over wildfires to see where it's spreading, or if there's a nuclear meltdown and we want to fly in to see what's going on with the radioactivity, we can send in the drone and it can send back data without returning,' Ian Hull, a Stanford sophomore involved in the project, told Fast Company.
IT

Ask Slashdot: Are Any Certifications Worth Going For? 317

Posted by Soulskill
from the lifeguard-certification-might-help dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I am an IT professional in my 30s and have had some form if IT employment for the last 15 years. I've worked my way from technical support to IS manager, but my career seems to have stalled. I have a fancy 4-year degree in Information Systems (I was never much of a programmer) from an actual college, and a good deal of real-world experience combined with reading the odd technical book here and there to keep abreast of what's going on in the world of tech, but what I don't have is any certifications. None.

When I was a poor student fresh from college, I decided that certifications were a waste of money, since the jobs I was applying for at the time didn't care about them, and the tests were several hundred dollars each. Now, it seems most jobs I see listed want some certifications, and I suspect HR systems are weeding out resumes that don't have the correct alchemical formula of certifications.

So my question is: are any certifications now worth it? If so, where do I start? I will probably stick to the track I'm on (I'm better at managing than developing). Going to classes might be an option, but I'd prefer to be able to self-study if possible to work around being on-call constantly (and, to be blunt, classes are expensive). I don't want to stump up for a class only to find out I don't actually like the class or the material or the certification isn't actually what I thought it was.
Advertising

French Publishers Prepare Lawsuit Against Adblock Plus 681

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-our-ads-or-else dept.
HughPickens.com writes Frédéric Filloux reports at Monday Note that two groups of French publishers, the GESTE and the French Internet Advertising Bureau, are considering a lawsuit against AdBlockPlus creator Eyeo GmbH on grounds that it represents a major economic threat to their business. According to LesEchos.fr, EYEO, which publishes Adblock Plus, has developed a business model where they offer not to block publishers' advertisements for remuneration as long as the ads are judged non-intrusive (Google Translate, Original here). "Several criteria must be met as well: advertisements must be identified as such, be static and therefore not contain animation, no sound, and should not interfere with the content. A position that some media have likened to extortion."

According to Filloux the legal action misses the point. By downloading AdBlock Plus (ABP) on a massive scale, users are voting with their mice against the growing invasiveness of digital advertising. Therefore, suing Eyeo, the company that maintains ABP, is like using Aspirin to fight cancer. A different approach is required but very few seem ready to face that fact. "We must admit that Eyeo GmbH is filling a vacuum created by the incompetence and sloppiness of the advertising community's, namely creative agencies, media buyers and organizations that are supposed to coordinate the whole ecosystem," says Filloux. Even Google has begun to realize that the explosion of questionable advertising formats has become a problem and the proof is Google's recent Contributor program that proposes ad-free navigation in exchange for a fee ranging from $1 to $3 per month. "The growing rejection of advertising AdBlock Plus is built upon is indeed a threat to the ecosystem and it needs to be addressed decisively. For example, by bringing at the same table publishers and advertisers to meet and design ways to clean up the ad mess. But the entity and leaders who can do the job have yet to be found."
Security

Sony Hacks Continue: PlayStation Hit By Lizard Squad Attack 170

Posted by samzenpus
from the hits-keep-coming dept.
An anonymous reader writes Hacker group Lizard Squad has claimed responsibility for shutting down the PlayStation Network, the second large scale cyber-attack on the Sony system in recent weeks. Although apparently unrelated, the outage comes just weeks after the much larger cyber-attack to the tech giant's film studios, Sony Pictures, which leaked confidential corporate information and unreleased movies.The group claiming to have taken down PSN today, Lizard Squad, first appeared earlier this year with another high-profile distributed denial of service attack on Xbox Live and World of Warcraft in August. The hacker collective claimed that this attack was just a 'small dose' of what was to come over the Christmas period.
Encryption

Neglecting the Lessons of Cypherpunk History 103

Posted by Soulskill
from the moore's-law-makes-liars-of-us dept.
Nicola Hahn writes Over the course of the Snowden revelations there have been a number of high profile figures who've praised the merits of encryption as a remedy to the quandary of mass interception. Companies like Google and Apple have been quick to publicize their adoption of cryptographic countermeasures in an effort to maintain quarterly earnings. This marketing campaign has even convinced less credulous onlookers like Glenn Greenwald. For example, in a recent Intercept piece, Greenwald claimed:

"It is well-established that, prior to the Snowden reporting, Silicon Valley companies were secret, eager and vital participants in the growing Surveillance State. Once their role was revealed, and they perceived those disclosures threatening to their future profit-making, they instantly adopted a PR tactic of presenting themselves as Guardians of Privacy. Much of that is simply self-serving re-branding, but some of it, as I described last week, are genuine improvements in the technological means of protecting user privacy, such as the encryption products now being offered by Apple and Google, motivated by the belief that, post-Snowden, parading around as privacy protectors is necessary to stay competitive."

So, while he concedes the role of public relations in the ongoing cyber security push, Greenwald concurrently believes encryption is a "genuine" countermeasure. In other words, what we're seeing is mostly marketing hype... except for the part about strong encryption.

With regard to the promise of encryption as a privacy cure-all, history tells a markedly different story. Guarantees of security through encryption have often proven illusory, a magic act. Seeking refuge in a technical quick fix can be hazardous for a number of reasons.
The Media

Facebook Founder Presents Vision For The New Republic, Many Resign In Protest 345

Posted by Soulskill
from the unfriending-in-real-life dept.
SkiTee94 writes: Chris Hughes, one of the original founders of Facebook, is in damage control mode to save his recently acquired, century-old publication The New Republic. In response to Hughes' vision to turn the highly respected, and most would say old school, publication into a "digital media company," about a dozen senior editors and writers simply quit (out of a 54-person staff). One of the editors who quit said, "The narrative that they are putting out there is that it is the 21st century and we have to innovate and adapt. ... We don’t know what their vision is. It is Silicon Valley mumbo jumbo buzzwords that don’t mean anything." Is Hughes a visionary cleaning out dead wood or a clueless tech star leaving destruction in his wake?
Mars

Orion Capsule Safely Recovered, Complete With 12-Year-Old Computer Guts 197

Posted by timothy
from the why-that's-barely-a-dozen dept.
Lucas123 writes While NASA's Orion spacecraft, which blasted off on a successful test flight today, may be preparing for a first-of-its-kind mission to carry astronauts to Mars and other deep-space missions, the technology inside of it is no where near leading edge. In fact, its computers and its processors are 12 years old — making them ancient in tech years. The spacecraft, according to one NASA engineer, is built to be rugged and reliable in the face of G forces, massive amounts of radiation and the other rigors of space."Compared to the [Intel] Core i5 in your laptop, it's much slower — much less powerful. It's probably not any faster than your smartphone," Matt Lemke, NASA's deputy manager for Orion's avionics, power and software team, told Computerworld. Lemke said the spacecraft was built to be rugged and reliable — not necessarily smart. That's why there are two flight computers. Orion's main computer was built by Honeywell as a flight computer originally for Boeing's 787 jet airliner. Not only was the launch itself successful, but the sensor-laden craft's splashdown was smooth ("bulls-eye," as NASA puts it), and NASA has now recovered the capsule. ABC News has some good photos, too.
Privacy

DOJ Launches New Cybercrime Unit, Claims Privacy Top Priority 61

Posted by Soulskill
from the look-we're-helping-see-look dept.
msm1267 writes: Leslie Caldwell, assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the Department of Justice, announced on Thursday the creation of a new Cybercrime Unit, tasked with enhancing public-private security efforts. A large part of the Cybersecurity Unit's mission will be to quell the growing distrust many Americans have toward law enforcement's high-tech investigative techniques. (Even if that lack of trust, as Caldwell claimed, is based largely on misinformation about the technical abilities of the law enforcement tools and the manners in which they are used.) "In fact, almost every decision we make during an investigation requires us to weigh the effect on privacy and civil liberties, and we take that responsibility seriously," Caldwell said. "Privacy concerns are not just tacked onto our investigations, they are baked in."
Cellphones

Ron Wyden Introduces Bill To Ban FBI 'Backdoors' In Tech Products 109

Posted by Soulskill
from the stop-doing-the-thing-you-might-want-to-start-doing dept.
An anonymous reader sends this report from The Verge: Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is trying to proactively block FBI head James Comey's request for new rules that make tapping into devices easier. The Secure Data Act would ban agencies from making manufacturers alter their products to allow easier surveillance or search, something Comey has said is necessary as encryption becomes more common and more sophisticated. "Strong encryption and sound computer security is the best way to keep Americans' data safe from hackers and foreign threats," said Wyden in a statement. "It is the best way to protect our constitutional rights at a time when a person's whole life can often be found on his or her smartphone."
Data Storage

Consumer-Grade SSDs Survive Two Petabytes of Writes 125

Posted by timothy
from the some-of-them-at-least dept.
crookedvulture writes The SSD Endurance Experiment previously covered on Slashdot has reached another big milestone: two freaking petabytes of writes. That's an astounding total for consumer-grade drives rated to survive no more than a few hundred terabytes. Only two of the initial six subjects made it to 2PB. The Kingston HyperX 3K, Intel 335 Series, and Samsung 840 Series expired on the road to 1PB, while the Corsair Neutron GTX faltered at 1.2PB. The Samsung 840 Pro continues despite logging thousands of reallocated sectors. It has remained completely error-free throughout the experiment, unlike a second HyperX, which has suffered a couple of uncorrectable errors. The second HyperX is mostly intact otherwise, though its built-in compression tech has reduced the 2PB of host writes to just 1.4PB of flash writes. Even accounting for compression, the flash in the second HyperX has proven to be far more robust than in the first. That difference highlights the impact normal manufacturing variances can have on flash wear. It also illustrates why the experiment's sample size is too small to draw definitive conclusions about the durability of specific models. However, the fact that all the drives far exceeded their endurance specifications bodes well for the endurance of consumer-grade SSDs in general.
NASA

Technical Hitches Delay Orion Capsule's First Launch 71

Posted by timothy
from the despite-not-being-run-by-the-usps dept.
According to NBC news, "A series of delays held up the maiden launch of NASA's Orion capsule on Thursday, adding some extra suspense to the first test of a spacecraft that's designed to take humans farther than they've ever gone — including to Mars." The much-anticipated launch, which had been scheduled for launch 7:05 a.m. Florida time, is to boost into orbit — empty — an instance of the Orion crew capsule intended to be part of a manned mission to Mars. As of shortly after 9 a.m. eastern time, troubleshooting has been in progress on the Alliance Delta 4 launch vehicle's hydrogen fill and drain valves in attempt to make the launch within today's launch window, which extends to 9:44 a.m. Besides the technical problem with those valves, the launch was delayed by wind, as well as by a boat that strayed into a restricted area. (Shades of the stray-boat delay in October for Orbital Science's ISS delivery launch.) Friday and Saturday have been designated as backup dates. Update: 12/04 15:03 GMT by T : The launch has been scrubbed.
Businesses

Chinese CEO Says "Free" Is the Right Price For Mobile Software 133

Posted by timothy
from the sounds-like-a-plan dept.
hackingbear writes Sheng Fu, CEO of Cheetah Mobile, a public Chinese mobile software company you probably haven't heard of, but whose products are among the top downloaded products in Android markets around the world, said that the intense competition of the Chinese market leads to products that can compete globally. Many recent university graduates are working in tech, all with their startups looking to find their place in the market, he said. Chinese companies saw the impact that piracy played in the PC software era, and China's mobile companies grew up knowing they would need to make money without getting consumers to open their wallets. "Chinese companies are so good at making free but high-quality products," he said. Sounds like we have a good race to the bottom.
Google

Google Confirms That It's Designing Kid-Friendly Versions of Its Services 52

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-children? dept.
An anonymous reader writes USA Today reports that rumors about Google working on specific services catering to young kids are true. From the article: "With Google processing 40,000 search queries a second — or 1.2 trillion a year — it's a safe bet that many of those doing the Googling are kids. Little surprise then that beginning next year the tech giant plans to create specific versions of its most popular products for those 12 and younger. The most likely candidates are those that are already popular with a broad age group, such as search, YouTube and Chrome. 'The big motivator inside the company is everyone is having kids, so there's a push to change our products to be fun and safe for children,' Pavni Diwanji, the vice president of engineering charged with leading the new initiative, told USA TODAY. 'We expect this to be controversial, but the simple truth is kids already have the technology in schools and at home,' says the mother of two daughters, ages 8 and 13. 'So the better approach is to simply see to it that the tech is used in a better way.'"
Medicine

How High-Tech Temporary Tattoos Will Hack Your Skin 57

Posted by samzenpus
from the wear-and-test dept.
Molly McHugh writes with this story about sensors that can be attached to temporary tattoos to monitor various medical information. "The Center for Wearable Sensors at the University of California San Diego has been experimenting with attaching sensors to temporary tattoos in order to extract data from the body. The tattoos are worn exactly as a regular temporary tattoo would be worn. The sensors simply sit atop the skin without penetrating it and interact with Bluetooth or other wireless devices with a signal in order to send the data....A biofuel battery applied as a temporary tattoo converts sweat into energy, and a startup within the center has developed a strip that extracts data from sweat to explain how your body is reacting to certain types of exercise. Amay Bandodkar, a fourth year PhD student at UCSD, explains that the sensors are programmed to react to the amount of lactate the body produces."
Programming

Programmer Father Asks: What Gets Little Girls Interested In Science? 584

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-a-father-to-do? dept.
nbauman writes Programmer David Auerbach is dismayed that, at a critical developmental age, his 4-year-old daughter wants to be a princess, not a scientist or engineer, he writes in Slate. The larger society keeps forcing sexist stereotypes on her, in every book and toy store. From the article: "Getting more women into science and technology fields: Where’s the silver bullet? While I might get more hits by revealing the One Simple Trick to increase female participation in the sciences, the truth is there isn’t some key inflection point where young women’s involvement drops off. Instead, there is a series of small- to medium-sized discouraging factors that set in from a young age, ranging from unhelpful social conditioning to a lack of role models to unconscious bias to very conscious bias. Any and all of these can figure into why, for example, women tend to underrate their technical abilities relative to men. I know plenty of successful women in the sciences, but let’s not fool ourselves and say the playing field in the academic sciences or the tech world is even. My wife attributes her pursuit of programming to being a loner and pretty much ignoring wider society while growing up: 'Being left alone with a computer (with NO INTERNET TO TELL ME WHAT I COULDN’T DO) was the deciding factor,' she tells me."
Twitter

Twitter Should Use Random Sample Voting For Abuse Reports 132

Posted by samzenpus
from the tell-us-everything dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: Twitter has announced new protocols for filing and handling abuse reports, making it easier to flag specific types of content (e.g. violence or suicide threats). But with the volume of abusive tweets being reported to the company every day, the internal review process will always be a bottleneck. The company could handle more abuse reports properly by recruiting public volunteers. Read what Bennett thinks below.
Python

Which Programming Language Pays the Best? Probably Python 277

Posted by Soulskill
from the from-employer-import-dollars dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: What programming language will earn you the biggest salary over the long run? According to Quartz, which relied partially on data compiled by employment-analytics firm Burning Glass and a Brookings Institution economist, Ruby on Rails, Objective-C, and Python are all programming skills that will earn you more than $100,000 per year. But salary doesn't necessarily correlate with popularity. Earlier this year, for example, tech-industry analyst firm RedMonk produced its latest ranking of the most-used languages, and Java/JavaScript topped the list, followed by PHP, Python, C#, and C++/Ruby. Meanwhile, Python was the one programming language to appear on Dice's recent list of the fastest-growing tech skills, which is assembled from mentions in Dice job postings. Python is a staple language in college-level computer-science courses, and has repeatedly topped the lists of popular programming languages as compiled by TIOBE Software and others. Should someone learn a language just because it could come with a six-figure salary, or are there better reasons to learn a particular language and not others?
The Almighty Buck

UK Announces 'Google Tax' 602

Posted by Soulskill
from the they're-not-feeling-so-lucky-now dept.
mrspoonsi points out that the UK has announced a "Google tax" on corporations that send a significant portion of their profits overseas to avoid local taxation. Any "economic activity" that is pushed to another country would face a 25% tax. George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer [said], "We will make sure multinationals pay their fair share of tax. We will introduce a 25% tax on profits from multinationals here in the UK which they artificially shift out of the UK. Today we're putting a stop to it. It's unfair to British people." ... [C]orporate taxes are still low, because the system does not tax sales, it taxes profits. And those profits are fiendishly difficult to pin down. Intellectual property payments to holding companies, the movement of sales activity to lower tax jurisdictions and the cost of licensing fees to holding companies all confuse the picture and allow firms with very mobile business models (such as in the technology sector) to be highly tax efficient.
Firefox

Firefox 34 Arrives With Video Chat, Yahoo Search As Default 237

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today launched Firefox 34 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Major additions to the browser include a built-in video chat feature, a revamped search bar, and tab mirroring from Android to Chromecast. This release also makes Yahoo Search the default in North America, in place of Google. Full changelogs: desktop and Android."

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