For the out-of-band Slashdot experience (mostly headlines), follow us on Twitter, or Facebook. ×
Microsoft

Samsung To Stop Blocking Automatic Windows Updates 23 23

A few days ago, we mentioned that a piece of (nominally) utility software from Samsung was blocking critical security updates. Understandably, this isn't what users typically want. The Register reports that Samsung has now back-pedaled, though, and will be issuing a patch in the next few days to fix the glitch. (Users were able to manually install the updates anyhow, but the expected, automatic updates were blocked.) However, as the Register notes: The thought of a computer manufacturer disabling Windows Update will have had the Microsoft security team on edge. But there's also Windows 10 to consider. When the new operating system comes out, Windows Update will feed in fixes continuously, and if you're not a business customer those updates are going to be coming over the wires constantly. Enterprise users get Windows Update for Business, which allows them to choose when to patch, presumably after the plebs have beta-tested them.
News

Drone Diverts Firefighting Planes, Incurring $10,000 Cost 268 268

An anonymous reader writes: Fire is raging through thousands of acres of forest in California. A few days ago we discussed how a man's personal drone was shooed away from a fire site. Now, the drone situation has gotten worse. The U.S. Forest Service is helping to fight the fire by sending planes full of fire retardant to drop on the surrounding area. Unfortunately, one of the missions had to be diverted because a private drone had encroached upon the planes's airspace. The mission involved three planes, all loaded with retardant. One was large enough to find another target on which to drop its payload, but the other two simply had to jettison and return to base. Officials say the failed mission wasted at least $10,000. They're now having to spend extra time keeping an eye out for these drones and trying to educate operators on the temporary restrictions in place around forest fires.
Transportation

After Protest, France Cracks Down On Uber 177 177

An anonymous reader writes: Just a day after taxi drivers began a high-profile protest of Uber in France, the nation's interior minister has issued a ban on the car-sharing service UberPop. The minister stated that the service was illegal, and ordered police to begin seizing vehicles defying the order. French president Francois Hollande agrees that UberPOP "should be dismantled," but says the state isn't legally permitted to seize cars itself without court authorization. "UberPOP is a car-sharing service offered by Uber, which brings together customers and private drivers at prices lower than those charged by both traditional taxi firms and even other Uber services. UberPOP differs because it allows non-professional drivers to register their car and transport other passengers. It has been illegal in France since January, but the law has proved difficult to enforce and the service continues to operate, AFP news agency reports."
Security

My United Airlines Website Hack Gets Snubbed 187 187

Bennett Haselton writes: United Airlines announced that they will offer up to 1 million air miles to users who can find security holes in their website. I demonstrated a way to brute-force a user's 4-digit PIN number and submitted it to them for review, emailing their Bugs Bounty contact address on three occasions, but I never heard back from them. Read on for the rest. If you've had a different experience with the program, please chime in below.
Space

OneWeb Secures "Largest Ever" Rocket Acquisition For Satellite Internet Launch 45 45

Mickeycaskill writes: Virgin, Airbus and Qualcomm-backed satellite Internet venture OneWeb has acquired 65 rockets and $500 million in funding to launch its satellites by 2019. OneWeb has partnered with Airbus to produce 900 microsatellites which will provide "affordable", fast, low-latency Internet to remote parts of the world and to ships, planes and oil rigs. It has also been suggested the network will be a cheaper way for mobile operators to expand coverage in rural areas. Other partners include Bharti Enterprises, Hughes Network Systems, Intelsat, Coca-Cola and Totalplay, all of whom have committed financial, technical or manufacturing support to the project.
Medicine

Students Win Prize For Color-Changing Condoms That Detect STDs 171 171

New submitter PJ6 writes: Three students attending the Isaac Newton Academy in the UK won the Healthcare Category of the Teen Tech Awards, for their idea to use antibodies to create color-changing condoms to recognize STDs. They say the material, which is still in the concept stage, will turn green for chlamydia, yellow for herpes, purple for HPV, and blue for syphilis. The BBC reports: "The boys said they still have to test the science and feasibility of their idea. They want to work with a university on the science and say they've already been contacted by a condom company which is interested in working with them on developing the concept further."
Businesses

Average Duration of Hiring Process For Software Engineers: 35 Days 179 179

itwbennett writes: Despite the high demand for tech workers of pretty much all stripes, the hiring process is still rather drawn out, with the average time-to-hire for Software Engineers taking 35 days. That's one of the findings of a new study from career site Glassdoor. The study, led by Glassdoor's Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, analyzed over 340,000 interview reviews, covering 74,000 unique job titles, submitted to the site from February 2009 through February 2015. Glassdoor found that the average time-to-hire for all jobs has increased 80% (from 12.6 days to 22.9 days) since 2010. The biggest reason for this jump: The increased reliance on screening tests of various sorts, from background checks and skills tests to drug tests and personality tests, among others.
Windows

Samsung Cripples Windows Update To Prevent Incompatible Drivers 289 289

jones_supa writes: A file called Disable_Windowsupdate.exe — probably malware, right? It's actually a "helper" utility from Samsung, for which their reasoning is: "When you enable Windows updates, it will install the Default Drivers for all the hardware no laptop which may or may not work. For example if there is USB 3.0 on laptop, the ports may not work with the installation of updates. So to prevent this, SW Update tool will prevent the Windows updates." Too bad that the solution means disabling all critical security updates as well. This isn't the first time an OEM has compromised the security of its users. From earlier this year, we remember the Superfish adware from Lenovo, and system security being compromised by the LG split screen software.
Technology

Your Next Allstate Inspector Might Be a Drone 54 54

New submitter cameronag writes: Following on the heels of EasyJet's plan to inspect planes with drones, insurance giant Allstate has received FAA clearance to test drones for insurance inspections. The company plans to use drones to inspect roofing, weather damage, and collapsed structures, among other things, and says the technology will ultimately speed up claims processing.
Data Storage

When Will Your Hard Drive Fail? 297 297

jfruh writes: Tech writer Andy Patrizio suffered his most catastrophic hard drive failure in 25 years of computing recently, which prompted him to delve into the questions of which hard drives fail and when. One intriguing theory behind some failure rates involve a crisis in the industry that arose from the massive 2011 floods in Thailand, home to the global hard drive industry.
Microsoft

Microsoft Attempts To Clarify the Windows 10 For Everyone Rumor 96 96

Ammalgam writes: Over the weekend, Microsoft caused a web explosion by seeming to imply that they were going to relax their licensing rules and offer Windows 10 for free to everyone. This caused an uproar of controversy online that Microsoft had to address. The company issued a statement in an attempt to clarify the Windows 10 licensing situation. The language is still a little confusing so on Windows10update.com, Onuora Amobi tries to simplify the language and sort out the distinction between users on the Windows Insider Program and non Windows Insiders.
Privacy

Louisiana Governor Vetoes License Plate Reader Bill, Citing Privacy Concerns 131 131

An anonymous reader writes: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has vetoed a plan to acquire license plate reading cameras in the state. Law enforcement agencies nationwide use such cameras to scan cars and compare them to a "hot list" of stolen or wanted vehicles. That data is kept for weeks, or even years In some cases. Jindal wrote in a signing statement: "Senate Bill No. 250 would authorize the use of automatic license plate reader camera surveillance programs in various parishes throughout the state. The personal information captured by these cameras, which includes a person’s vehicle location, would be retained in a central database and accessible to not only participating law enforcement agencies but other specified private entities for a period of time regardless of whether or not the system detects that a person is in violation of vehicle insurance requirements. Camera programs such as these that make private information readily available beyond the scope of law enforcement, pose a fundamental risk to personal privacy and create large pools of information belonging to law abiding citizens that unfortunately can be extremely vulnerable to theft or misuse. For these reasons, I have vetoed Senate Bill No. 250 and hereby return it to the Senate."
Government

Mayday PAC's Benjamin Singer Explains How You can Help Reform American Politics (Video) 233 233

Larry Lessig's Mayday PAC is a SuperPac that is working to eliminate the inherent corruption of having a government run almost entirely by people who manage to raise -- or have their "non-connected" SuperPACs raise -- most of the money they need to run their campaigns. The Mayday PAC isn't about right or left wing or partisan politics at all. It's about finding and supporting candidates who are in favor of something like last year's Government by the People Act. As we noted in our Mayday Pac interview with Larry Lessig last June, a whole panoply of tech luminaries, up to and including Steve Wozniak, are in favor of Mayday PAC.

This interview is being posted, appropriately, just before the 4th of July, but it's also just one day before the Mayday PAC Day of Action to Reform Congress. They're big on calling members of Congress rather than emailing, because our representatives get email by the (digital) bushel, while they get comparatively few issue-oriented phone calls from citizens. So Mayday PAC makes it easy for you to call your Congressional representatives and even, if you're too shy to talk to a legislative aide in person, to record a message Mayday PAC will leave for them after hours.

The five specific pieces of legislation Mayday PAC currently supports are listed at the RepsWith.US/reforms page. Two are sponsored by Republicans, two by Democrats, and one by an Independent. That's about as non-partisan as you can get, so no matter what kind of political beliefs you hold, you can support Mayday PAC with a clear conscience. (Note: the transcript has more information than the video, which is less than six minutes long.)
Security

Cyberattack Grounds Planes In Poland 40 40

itwbennett writes: While the alleged hacking of in-flight systems has been much discussed recently, "there are many more areas of vulnerability to address in the aviation industry," says Tim Erlin of security firm Tripwire. "Like most industries today, aviation relies on a wide variety of interconnected systems, from air traffic control to reservations systems." Case in point: LOT Polish Airlines was forced to cancel 10 flights scheduled to depart from Warsaw's Chopin airport on Sunday after hackers attacked its ground computer systems.
Earth

3D Printing Might Save the Rhinoceros 163 163

GordonShure.com writes: San Francisco based biotech startup Pembient have released details of their 3D printing led method to derail the market for Rhinoceros horns. Presently the bulk of demand originates from China, where said horns — gathered in the wild by poachers who usually kill the rhinos — are revered for supposed medicinal qualities. The new firm intends to mix keratin with Rhino DNA, then machine the combination with a 3D printer in a way that their counterfeit horns are difficult to detect by customers and traffickers alike.

The company already mulls expanding its production principle to other, lucrative wild animal trades such as the claws of tigers and lions. Pembient is however a young company — for all their ingenuity, will their ambitions to take on such a colossal black market be realized?
The Courts

Illinois Supreme Court: Comcast Must Identify Anonymous Internet Commenter 233 233

An anonymous reader writes: In 2011, an anonymous person on the internet posted a comment to the Freeport Journal Standard newspaper's website implying that a local political candidate was a pedophile. The candidate, Bill Hadley, took offense to this, and tried to get Comcast to tell him who the commenter was. Comcast refused, so Hadley took it to the courts. The Illinois Supreme Court has now ruled (PDF) that Comcast must divulge the commenter's identity. "Illinois' opinion was based in large part on a pair of earlier, lower-court decisions in the state, which held that the anonymity of someone who makes comments in response to online news stories isn't guaranteed if their opinions are potentially defamatory, according to Don Craven, an attorney for the Illinois Press Association."
Windows

Windows 10 Will Be Free To Users Who Test It 280 280

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has been making a big push to change its business model for Windows — likely due to the low/no cost updates you can get for competing operating systems. The company surprised everyone when it said legit copies of Windows 7 and 8 would be supplied with free upgrades, but now they're extending that even further: anyone who tests the Windows 10 Technical Preview will get a free upgrade to the full version of Windows 10 when it comes out. In a blog post, Microsoft's Gabe Aul said, "As long as you are running an Insider Preview build and connected with the [Microsoft account] you used to register, you will receive the Windows 10 final release build and remain activated. Once you have successfully installed this build and activated, you will also be able to clean install on that PC from final media if you want to start over fresh."
Businesses

Where Is Europe's Silicon Valley? 266 266

An anonymous reader writes: A New York Times story delves into the conundrum faced by Europeans: Why are there few, if any, technology companies from Europe with the size and reach of American tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Apple? The article hypothesizes that, though employment regulations and other business and legal factors play a role, it's actually deeply embedded cultural differences that are the primary cause, citing less aversion to risk-taking, less stigma from business failures such as bankruptcies, little or no stigma from leaving and rejoining a company (seen as disloyal in European cultures), more acceptance of disruptive innovation, and a less rigid educational system that allows individuals to find their own form of success.
Education

Microsoft Funds First US-Based Chinese Research University Degree Program 27 27

theodp writes: Microsoft will give $40 million to help fund a graduate-school program with the Univ. of Washington and China's Tsinghua University. The Global Innovation Exchange, which will be located in the Seattle area, marks the first time a Chinese research university has established a physical presence in the U.S. The center will open in 2016 with the goal of attracting 3,000 students within a decade, according to Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith. UW Interim President Ana Mari Cauce and Tsinghua President Qiu Yong made the announcement Thursday afternoon in downtown Bellevue, accompanied by Gov. Jay Inslee and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Both Cauce and Smith waved off concerns about the possibility that a partnership with a Chinese university could lead to corporate espionage or hacking. "The solution to mistrust is more contact, not less," said Cauce, whose UW currently hosts 3,500+ students from China.
Graphics

AMD Reveals Radeon R9 Fury X Specs and Preliminary Benchmark Performance Results 87 87

MojoKid writes: AMD announced new Radeon R9 and R7 300 series of graphics cards earlier this week, and while they are interesting, they're not nearly as impressive as AMD's upcoming flagship of AMD GPU, code named Fiji. Fiji will find its way into three products this summer: the Radeon R9 Nano, Radeon R9 Fury, and the range-topping (and water-cooled) Radeon R9 Fury X. Other upcoming variants like, AMD's dual-Fiji board, were teased at E3 but are still under wraps. However, while full reviews are still under embargo, the official specification of the Radeon R9 Fury X have been revealed, along with an array of benchmark scores comparing the GPU to NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 980 Ti. Should the numbers AMD has released jibe with independent testing, the Radeon R9 Fury X looks strong and possibly faster than Nvidia's GeForce GTX 980 Ti.