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Bug

More Details On The 3rd-Party Apps That Led to Snapchat Leaks 101

Posted by timothy
from the you-didn't-really-think-they-were-secure-did-you dept.
Yesterday we posted a link to Computerworld's reports that (unnamed) third-party apps were responsible for a massive leak of Snapchat images from the meant-to-be-secure service. An anonymous reader writes with some more details: Ars Technica identifies the culprit as SnapSaved, which was created to allow Snapchat users to access their sent and received images from a browser but which also secretly saved those images on a SnapSaved server hosted by HostGator. Security researcher Adam Caudill warned Snapchat about the vulnerability of their API back in 2012, and although the company has reworked their code multiple times as advised by other security researchers, Caudill concludes that the real culprit is the concept behind Snapchat itself. "Without controlling the endpoint devices themselves, Snapchat can't ensure that its users' photos will truly be deleted. And by offering that deletion as its central selling point, it's lured users into a false sense of privacy."
Government

Ex-NSA Director Keith Alexander's Investments In Tech Firms: "No Conflict" 59

Posted by timothy
from the picking-winners dept.
Presto Vivace (882157) writes "No conflicts appear to exist" among Keith Alexander's investments, the NSA said. "New financial disclosure documents released this month by the National Security Agency (NSA) show that Keith Alexander, who served as its director from August 2005 until March 2014, had thousands of dollars of investments during his tenure in a handful of technology firms." Don't worry, the NSA assures us that there was no conflict of interest.
Education

AnandTech's Intro To Semiconductor Tech 21

Posted by Soulskill
from the absolutely-fab dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Computer hardware site AnandTech has posted a detailed introduction to semiconductor technology. It's deep enough to be insightful for understanding the chips that run your devices and the industry that built them, but also short enough that your eyes won't start bleeding in the process. The article starts by explaining why silicon is so important, and how a board is set up, structurally. Then it walks through transistor design and construction, and the underpinnings of CMOS logic. Finally, the article describes the manufacturing steps, including wafer creation, photolithography, and how metal is added/shaped at the end. They then go into the physics behind improving these components. It's a geeky and informative read.
The Internet

Why the Trolls Will Always Win 728

Posted by Soulskill
from the emboldened-and-protected-by-anonymity dept.
maynard writes: Kathy Sierra spent a tech career developing videogames and teaching Java programming in Sun Microsystems masterclasses. Up until 2007, she'd been a well regarded tech specialist who happened to be female. Until the day she opined on her private blog that given the crap-flood of bad comments, maybe forum moderation wasn't a bad idea. This opinion made her a target. A sustained trolling and harassment campaign followed, comprised of death and rape threats, threats against her family, fabricated claims of prostitution, and a false claim that she had issued a DMCA takedown to stifle criticism. All of this culminated in the public release of her private address and Social Security Number, a technique known as Doxxing. And so she fled from the public, her career, and even her home.

It turned out that a man named Andrew Auernheimer was responsible for having harassed Sierra. Known as 'Weev', he admitted it in a 2008 New York Times story on Internet Trolls. There, he spoke to the lengths which he and his cohorts went to discredit and destroy the woman. "Over a candlelit dinner of tuna sashimi, Weev asked if I would attribute his comments to Memphis Two, the handle he used to troll Kathy Sierra, a blogger. Inspired by her touchy response to online commenters, Weev said he "dropped docs" on Sierra, posting a fabricated narrative of her career alongside her real Social Security number and address. This was part of a larger trolling campaign against Sierra, one that culminated in death threats."

Now, seven years later, Kathy Sierra has returned to explain why she left and what recent spates of online harassment against women portend for the future if decent people don't organize. The situation has grown much more serious since she went into hiding all those years ago. It's more than just the threat of Doxxing to incite physical violence by random crazies with a screw loose.
Read on for the rest of maynard's thoughts.
Input Devices

Reverse Engineering the Oculus Rift DK2's Positional Tracking Tech 26

Posted by timothy
from the blink-and-you-won't-miss-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Oculus Rift DK2 VR headset hides under its IR-transparent shell an array of IR LEDs which are picked up by the positional tracker. The data is used to understand where the user's head is in 3D space so that the game engine can update the view accordingly, a critical function for reducing sim sickness and increasing immersion. Unsurprisingly, some endeavoring folks wanted to uncover the magic behind Oculus' tech and began reverse engineering the system. Along the way, they discovered some curious info including a firmware bug which, when fixed, revealed the true view of the positional tracker.
Science

No Nobel For Nick Holonyak Jr, Father of the LED 276

Posted by timothy
from the only-the-blue-baby-gets-the-prize dept.
szotz writes Nick Holonyak Jr. doesn't want to go gently into that good night. Widely regarded as the father of the LED (for his work on early visible-light devices), he's been making strongly-worded comments about being passed over for the Nobel Prize. His wife said he'd given up on getting it. But, he says, this year's physics award, to inventors of the blue LED, was just plain 'insulting'. The history the LED goes beyond and back further than Holonyak (all the way to the beginning of the 20th century), but a number of his colleagues are disappointed and/or surprised by the snub.
Perl

Goodbye, World? 5 Languages That Might Not Be Long For This World 547

Posted by timothy
from the glib-claims-are-easy-to-make dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes As developers embrace new programming languages, older languages can go one of two ways: stay in use, despite fading popularity, or die out completely. So which programming languages are slated for history's dustbin of dead tech? Perl is an excellent candidate, especially considering how work on Perl6, framed as a complete revamp of the language, began work in 2000 and is still inching along in development. Ruby, Visual Basic.NET, and Object Pascal also top this list, despite their onetime popularity. Whether the result of development snafus or the industry simply veering in a direction that makes a particular language increasingly obsolete, time comes for all platforms at one point or another. Which programming languages do you think will do the way of the dinosaurs in coming years? With COBOL still around, it's hard to take too seriously the claim that Perl or Ruby is about to die. A prediction market for this kind of thing might yield a far different list.
Google

Google Takes the Fight With Oracle To the Supreme Court 146

Posted by timothy
from the by-the-power-your-black-robe-we-beseech-thee dept.
whoever57 writes Google has asked the Supreme Court to review the issue of whether APIs can be copyrighted. Google beat Oracle in the trial court, where a judge with a software background ruled that APIs could not be copyrighted. but the Appeals court sided with Oracle, ruling that APIs can be copyrighted. Now Google is asking the Supreme Court to overturn that decision. (Also of interest.)
AI

Outsourced Tech Jobs Are Increasingly Being Automated 236

Posted by timothy
from the ban-farm-equipment dept.
Jason Koebler writes Yahoo announced [Tuesday] it would be laying off at least 400 workers in its Indian office, and back in February, IBM cut roughly 2,000 jobs there. Meanwhile, tech companies are beginning to see that many of the jobs it has outsourced can be automated, instead. Labor in India and China is still cheaper than it is in the United States, but it's not the obvious economic move that it was just a few years ago: "The labor costs are becoming significant enough in China and India that there are very real discussions about automating jobs there now," Mark Muro, an economist at Brookings, said. "Companies are seeing that automated replacements are getting to be 'good enough.'"
The Internet

Eric Schmidt: Anxiety Over US Spying Will "Break the Internet" 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the this-is-why-we-can't-have-nice-things dept.
jfruh writes Oregon Senator Ron Wyden gathered a group of tech luminaries to discuss the implications of U.S. surveillance programs, and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt didn't mince words. He said that worries over U.S. surveillance would result in servers with different sets of data for users from different countries multiplying across the world. "The simplest outcome is that we're going to end up breaking the Internet."
United States

US Remains Top Country For Global Workers 123

Posted by samzenpus
from the we're-number-one dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes The Boston Consulting Group and The Network recently surveyed 200,000 people in 189 countries to figure out the global willingness to work abroad. Their conclusion? People will indeed set down professional roots in another country—although younger workers seem far more willing to expatriate than their older peers. Where do the majority of global workers want to head? The United States, which 42 percent of respondents listed as their top potential work destination, followed by the U.K. (37 percent), Canada (35 percent), Germany (33 percent), Switzerland (29 percent), and France (29 percent). But citizens in the United States seemed a bit more reluctant to return the favor—less than 50 percent said they either lived abroad or would consider doing so for work. That's in sharp contrast to countries such as France, where a significant majority of citizens seemed willing to explore jobs in other nations. Of course, those who work in tech already know that globalization is a huge issue.
Science

Co-Founder of PayPal Peter Thiel: Society Is Hostile To Science and Technology 238

Posted by samzenpus
from the burn-the-witch dept.
dcblogs writes Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, billionaire investor and author, says "we live in a financial, capitalistic age, we do not live in a scientific or technological age. We live in a period where people generally dislike science and technology. Our culture dislikes it, our government dislikes it. The easiest way to see "how hostile our society is to technology" is to look at Hollywood. Movies "all show technology that doesn't work, that ... kills people, that it is bad for the world," said Thiel. He argues that corporations and the U.S. government are failing at complex planning.
United States

US Says It Can Hack Foreign Servers Without Warrants 335

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-to-win-friends dept.
Advocatus Diaboli tips news that the U.S. government is now arguing it doesn't need warrants to hack servers hosted on foreign soil. At issue is the current court case against Silk Road operator Ross Ulbricht. We recently discussed how the FBI's account of how they obtained evidence from Silk Road servers didn't seem to mesh with reality. Now, government lawyers have responded in a new court filing (PDF). They say that even if the FBI had to hack those servers without a warrant, it doesn't matter, because the Fourth Amendment does not confer protection to servers hosted outside the U.S. They said, "Given that the SR Server was hosting a blatantly criminal website, it would have been reasonable for the FBI to 'hack' into it in order to search it, as any such 'hack' would simply have constituted a search of foreign property known to contain criminal evidence, for which a warrant was not necessary."
GNOME

GNOME 3 Winning Back Users 267

Posted by Soulskill
from the out-of-the-doghouse dept.
Mcusanelli writes: GNOME 3, the open source desktop environment for Linux systems that once earned a lot of ire, is receiving newfound praise for the maturity of GNOME Shell and other improvements. The recent release of version 3.14 capped off a series of updates that have gone a long way toward resolving users' problems and addressing complaints. One of the big pieces was the addition of "Classic mode" in 3.8, which got it into RHEL 7, and Debian is switching back as well.
Twitter

Twitter Sues US Government Over National Security Data Requests 57

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-hashtags-could-prevent-the-next-9/11 dept.
mpicpp sends news that Twitter is suing the U.S. government to fight their rules on what information can be shared about national security-related requests for user data. Service providers like Twitter are prohibited from telling us the exact number of National Security Letters and FISA court orders they've received. Google has filed a challenge based on First Amendment rights, and Twitter's lawsuit (PDF) is taking a similar approach. Twitter VP Ben Lee says, "We've tried to achieve the level of transparency our users deserve without litigation, but to no avail. In April, we provided a draft Transparency Report addendum to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a report which we hoped would provide meaningful transparency for our users. After many months of discussions, we were unable to convince them to allow us to publish even a redacted version of the report."
Cellphones

Studies Conclude Hands-Free-calling and Apple Siri Distract Drivers 208

Posted by timothy
from the popular-delusions dept.
New submitter operator_error writes with a story at the L.A. Times that echoes some previous research on the relative risks of hand-held vs. hands-free phones by drivers, and comes to an even grimmer conclusion: In many cars, making a hands-free phone call can be more distracting than picking up your phone, according to a new study from AAA and the University of Utah. In-dash phone systems are overly complicated and prone to errors, the study found, and the same is true for voice-activated functions for music and navigation. A companion study also found that trying to use Siri — the voice control system on Apple phones — while driving was dangerously distracting. Two participants in the study had virtual crashes in an automotive simulator while attempting to use Siri, the study's authors reported. In response, Toyota said the study did not show a link between cognitive distraction and car crashes. "The results actually tell us very little about the relative benefits of in-vehicle versus hand-held systems; or about the relationship between cognitive load and crash risks," said Mike Michels, a Toyota spokesman. Meanwhile, many states treat hand-held devices very differently from hands-free ones; in New York, for instance, both texting and talking on a hand-held mobile phone are put in the same category, while talking on a hands-free device is covered only by more general distracted driving laws. If the Utah study is correct, maybe that's backwards. (And some evidence suggests that phone use in cars is not quite the straightforward danger that it's sometimes presented as, despite the correlation of phone use with accidents.)
Businesses

Why Military Personnel Make the Best IT Pros 299

Posted by samzenpus
from the office-army dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes Every year, approximately 250,000 military personnel leave the service to return to civilian life. When the home front beckons, many will be looking to become IT professionals, a role that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is among the fastest growing jobs in the country. How their field skills will translate to the back office is something to ponder. With the advent of virtualization, mobile, and the cloud, tech undergoes rapid changes, as do the skill sets needed to succeed. That said, the nature of today's military—always on the go, and heavily reliant on virtual solutions—may actually be the perfect training ground for IT. Consider that many war-fighters already are IT technicians: They need to be skilled in data management, mobile solutions, security, the ability to fix problems as they arise onsite, and more. Military personnel used to working with everything from SATCOM terminals to iPads are ideally suited for handling these issues; many have successfully managed wireless endpoints, networks, and security while in the field. Should programs that focus on placing former military personnel in civilian jobs focus even more on getting them into IT roles?
Facebook

Ask Slashdot: Is There an Ethical Way Facebook Can Experiment With Their Users? 141

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-gets-the-placebo dept.
An anonymous reader writes: This summer, news broke that Facebook had conducted an experiment on some of their users, tweaking which posts showed up in their timeline to see if it affected the tone of their later posts. The fallout was extensive — Facebook took a lot of flack from users and the media for overreaching and violating trust. (Of course, few stopped to think about how Facebook decided what to show people in the first place, but that's beside the point.) Now, Wired is running a somewhat paranoid article saying Facebook can't help but experiment on its users. The writer says this summer's blowback will only show Facebook they need to be sneakier about it.

At the same time, a study came out from Ohio State University saying some users rely on social media to alter their moods. For example, when a user has a bad day, he's likely to look up acquaintances who have it worse off, and feel a bit better that way. Now, going on social media is going to affect your mood in one way or another — shouldn't we try to understand that dynamic? Is there a way Facebook can run experiments like these ethically? (Or Twitter, or Google, or any similarly massive company, of course.)
Media

Redbox Streaming Service To Shut Down October 7th 64

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-you're-going-to-copy,-at-least-try-to-do-it-well dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Redbox, the company behind the giant red boxes at malls and grocery stores that dispense DVD and game rentals, partnered with Verizon in 2013 to launch a video streaming service to compete with Netflix. This naturally led to accusations that Verizon was throttling Netflix to tilt the scales in favor of Redbox. Well, as of Tuesday, they're packing it in. Redbox's streaming service will shut down at the end of the day on October 7th. They'll be refunding all current customers, though that number took a hit over the past several months as a credit card fraud problem caused Redbox to shut down their billing servers. This meant no new customers could sign up, and existing customers couldn't renew their subscriptions.
Science

Is an Octopus Too Smart For Us To Eat? 481

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-use-crying-over-spilled-ink dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The New Yorker is running a piece on the ethical dilemma we face when considering octopus intelligence alongside our willingness to eat them. "Octopus intelligence is well documented: they have been known to open jars, guard their unhatched eggs for months or even years, and demonstrate personalities. Most famously, they can blast a cloud of ink to throw off predators, but even more impressive is the masterfully complex camouflage employed by several members of Cephalopoda (a class that also includes squid and cuttlefish)." While humans eat animals ranging widely in mental faculties, the octopus remains one of the smartest ones we do consume. And unlike pigs, for example, their population is not dependent on humanity to survive. As our scientific understanding of intelligence grows, these ethical debates will only come into sharper focus. Where do we draw the line?

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

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