Technology News

Three Geeks Rescue a 50-Year-Old IBM 360 Mainframe From an Abandoned Building

(6 days ago)
In late April of 2019 Slashdot reader Adam Bradley and engineer Chris Blackburn were "sitting in a pub on a Monday night when Chris happened across a somewhat unusual eBay listing..." They eventually submitted the winning bid for an IBM 360 Model 20 mainframe -- €3,710 (about $4,141 USD) -- and proceeded to pick it up from an abandoned building "in the backstreets of Nuremberg, Germany." (Where they tackled several issues with a tiny door that hadn't been opened since the 1970s.) By day Adam is a railway software engineer, but he's also been involved in computer history for over a decade at The National Museum of Computing in Bletchley, England. Along with engineer Peter Vaughan, the three are now blogging "the saga that unfurled...and how we eventually tackled the problems we discovered." But after much beer, whisky, and Weiner Schnitzel, Adam assures us the story ends with a victory:The machine will shortly be headed to the UK for a full restoration to working order. We're planning to blog the entire process and hope some of you might be interested in reading more about it.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Is The Global Internet Disintegrating?

(6 days ago)
'The global internet is disintegrating," argues BBC Future, calling Russia "one of a growing number of countries that has had enough of the Western-built, Western-controlled internet backbone...aided as much by advances in technology as by growing global misgivings about whether the open internet was ever such a good idea to start with." "The new methods raise the possibility not only of countries pulling up their own drawbridges, but of alliances between like-minded countries building on these architectures to establish a parallel internet..."It's DNS that Russia has been setting its sights on... The plan -- which was met with skepticism from much of the engineering community, if not dismissed outright -- was to create a Russia-only copy of the DNS servers (the internet's address book, currently headquartered in California) so that citizens' traffic would be exclusively directed to Russian sites, or Russian versions of external sites. It would send Russian internet users to Yandex if they typed in Google, or the social network VK instead of Facebook. To lay the groundwork for this, Russia spent years enacting laws that force international companies to store all Russian citizens' data inside the country -- leading some companies such as LinkedIn to be blocked when they refused to comply... According to estimates from the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, China is now engaged in some 80 telecommunications projects around the world -- from laying cables[..]

Hundreds Are Alreadying Using Waymo's Driver-less Taxis In Arizona

(6 days ago)
The commercial rollout of Waymo's driver-less taxi service in Chandler, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix with a population of 260,000 people, has more than a thousand customers already signed up -- including the mayor, reports Forbes:Each of the several hundred Waymo One vans in Chandler arrives with a safety driver at the wheel. But that may be more about public relations than technical necessity. During a recent trip, the human in the driver's seat didn't take her hands off her lap during a trip from the library to a shopping mall a few miles away in light, late morning traffic. "Part of it's just education and getting people really comfortable right out of the gate," a Waymo spokeswoman said. There's another piece of the Arizona program that's closer to Waymo's long-term plans of full autonomy. A few hundred people are getting rides in Pacificas with no safety driver through its Early Rider program, an earlier test rollout. Unlike Waymo One users, Early Riders have to sign nondisclosure agreements and aren't allowed to discuss the program. Early Riders are also a way for the company to observe how people adapt to a robotic service and the options they want. Recently Waymo integrated Google Play music into the Waymo One app to let riders automatically listen to their preferred songs and artists. Video streaming, games and other in-vehicle options that leverage Google's many services are likely additions, though Waymo won't verify that... "Beyond the initial shock of not seeing[..]

10-Year-Old's Reality-Show Victory Revoked After Automated Bot Voting

(6 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes ABC News:The final result of Russia's version of the popular TV singing talent show, "The Voice Kids," has been cancelled after it was found that thousands of automated calls and text messages were used to rig voting in favor of its 10-year-old winner. Moscow-based cybersecurity firm Group-IB was brought in to examine the results after complaints were raised over the victory of Mikella Abramova, the daughter of well-known Russian popstar Alsou and millionaire Yan Abramov... On Thursday, Group-IB's researchers said that, after analyzing the voting data, there had been "massive automated sending of SMS messages in favour of one participant." Sequential phone numbers were used to make more than 30,000 automated calls into the show's voting line for the contestant, IB Group wrote in a statement on its website. Another 300 telephone numbers were used to send 8,000 text messages, the statement said, noting that the automated calls and messages were made by so-called 'bots' -- software programs that can be directed to repeat tasks over and over. The findings prompted Channel 1 to announce that it was annulling the results, saying the investigation had confirmed there was "an outside influence" that had affected the outcome. In a statement on its website, the channel said it would now organize a new "special show" in which all the contestants would compete again on May 24. One of show's hosts warned their audience not to take the reality competition too[..]

Amazon Begins Moving Warehouses Into Malls It Helped Put Out of Business

(6 days ago)
"It's easy to think of Amazon executives going home every night and bathing in their cynicism," writes Inc. columnist Chris Matyszczyk:It's often contended that Amazon has put an enormous amount of pressure on shopping malls. So much so that many of those malls are shutting their doors. Yet, as the Wall Street Journal reports, Amazon is now moving into precisely those derelict malls. Why? To use the space for its vast and, some might say heartless, fulfillment centers... It's the perfect way to ramp up Amazon's promise to make one-day delivery the norm. The malls were specifically built to give access to large urban swathes. To make that even easier, they were built with good access to highways. Amazon's avowed intention to offer free one-day delivery for Prime members involves creating the reverse flow. Where hordes once flowed toward the malls, now convoys of vans carrying packages will flow from the malls to the malls' former customers... Meanwhile, we sit back, mourn the death of malls and can't wait to get our new underwear delivered just that little bit more quickly. The article concludes that Amazon's move "would delight the most Machiavellian of cynics with its sheer beautiful gall."Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Basketball: Blazers' Lillard left in limbo by Warriors’ wall of defense

(6 days ago)
Portland leading scorer Damian Lillard has had a difficult time with a hovering Golden State defense and, with his team facing elimination from the NBA Western Conference finals, the Trail Blazer All-Star has a decision to make.

Bitcoin 'Roars Back', Surges 50% in 30 Days

(6 days ago)
A week ago bitcoin was trading at $6,000. Today Forbes reports bitcoin "which has been swinging wildly throughout this week, has suddenly rallied back to over $8,000 per bitcoin, somewhat putting to rest investor and trader fears the recent bitcoin bull run may have already ended":The bitcoin price has risen around 50% over the last 30 days, pulling many other major cryptocurrencies with it, including ethereum, Ripple's XRP, bitcoin cash, litecoin, EOS and binance coin... The total bitcoin and cryptocurrency market capitalization, which lost some $30 billion in a matter of minutes on Friday morning, has now recovered almost all of that value and is back around $250 billion, according to data from CoinMarketCap which tracks most major cryptocurrencies... The bitcoin and cryptocurrency sector has been celebrating a raft of positive news all this week, from retail adoption [at Starbucks, Nordstrom And Whole Foods] to legendary investor support. Bitcoin and cryptocurrency technical data is also showing the bitcoin price could be heading higher, with well-known bitcoin trader Eric Choe saying he expects the digital token to reach $22,600 sometime in 2020, which would be a fresh bitcoin all-time. Mark Mobius, the investor cofounder of Mobius Capital Partners who once branded bitcoin a "real fraud", now says instead that in the future bitcoin will be "alive and well."Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Ends Android Collaboration With Huawei. No Gmail, Play Store For Future Huawei Phones

(6 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes Reuters:Alphabet Inc's Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware and software products except those covered by open source licenses, a source close to the matter told Reuters on Sunday, in a blow to the Chinese technology company that the U.S. government has sought to blacklist around the world. Huawei Technologies Co Ltd will immediately lose access to updates to the Android operating system, and the next version of its smartphones outside of China will also lose access to popular applications and services including the Google Play Store and Gmail app... Huawei will continue to have access to the version of the Android operating system available through the open source license that is freely open to anyone who wishes to use it. But Google will stop providing any technical support and collaboration for Android and Google services to Huawei going forward, the source said.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Exclusive: Google suspends some business with Huawei after Trump blacklist - source

(6 days ago)
Alphabet Inc's Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware and software products except those covered by open source licenses, a source close to the matter told Reuters on Sunday, in a blow to the Chinese technology company that the U.S. government has sought to blacklist around the world.

Remembering Radio Shack's 1983 Training Film For the TRS-80 Model 100

(6 days ago)
Fast Company's technology editor Harry McCracken is also Slashdot reader #1,641,347. He contacted us Thursday with a story about Radio Shack's Model 100 -- and a rare training film from 36 years ago:Radio Shack's Model 100 wasn't the first laptop -- but it was the first popular one, and an innovative machine on multiple fronts. It was also the last computer to ship with Microsoft software personally coded by Bill Gates. I recently came across an internal training film intended to help Radio Shack staffers explain the Model 100's benefits to potential customers. I've shared it -- and some thoughts on the system's importance -- over at Fast Company. The article calls it "an even more important computer than it generally gets credit for," noting portable computers at the time weighed a whopping 24 pounds -- and required a wall outlet to run. So a four-pound PC that ran off batteries and could fit in a briefcase "introduced people to mind-bending ideas such as using a PC on an airplane" -- even if it only had 8K of memory.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Internal 'Civil War' Pits Google Against Its Own Employees

(6 days ago)
Google employees "want a say in and control over the products they build," reports Fortune, in an article headlined "Inside Google's Civil War":As the so-called techlash has cast a pall over the entire sector, organized employee pushback is slowly becoming part of the landscape: Amazon workers are demanding more action from the company on battling climate change; at Microsoft, employees say they don't want to build technology for warfare; at Salesforce, a group has lobbied management to end its work with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency... But nowhere has the furor been as loud, as public, and as insistent as it has been at Google. That's no surprise to Silicon Valley insiders, who say Google was purpose-built to amplify employee voices. With its "Don't be evil" mantra, Google was a central player in creating the rosy optimism of the tech boom. "It has very consciously cultivated this image," says Terry Winograd, a professor emeritus of computer science at Stanford who was Google cofounder Larry Page's grad school adviser and would go on to serve on the company's technical advisory board. "It makes them much more prone to this kind of uprising." Page, now 46, and cofounder Sergey Brin, 45, intentionally created a culture that encouraged the questioning of authority and the status quo, famously writing in their 2004 IPO letter that Google was not a conventional company and did not intend to become one... Now Google finds itself in the awkward position of trying[..]

Group Seeks Investigation of Deep Packet Inspection Use By ISPs

(6 days ago)
wiredmikey writes: European Digital Rights (EDRi), together with 45 NGOs, academics and companies across 15 countries, has sent an open letter to European policymakers and regulators, warning about widespread and potentially growing use of deep packet inspection (DPI) by internet service providers (ISPs). DPI is far more than is required by the ISP to perform its basic purpose, and by its nature privacy invasive, and not strictly legal within the EU. Nevertheless, many are concerned that its practice and use within Europe is growing, and that "some telecom regulators appear to be pushing for the legalization of DPI technology." One of the drivers appears to be the growing use of 'zero-rating' by mobile operators. "A mapping of zero-rating offers in Europe conducted by EDRi member Epicenter.works identified 186 telecom services which potentially make use of DPI technology," writes EDRi. [PDF here]Read more of this story at Slashdot.

PlayStation Gamers Are Now Authoring Their Own Games With 'Dreams' For PS4

(6 days ago)
dryriver explains the new buzz around "Dreams" for PS4 (now in open access). Created by the studio that made PS4's Big Little World, Dreams "is not a game. It is more of an end to end, create-your-own-3D-game toolkit that happens to run on PS4 rather than a PC... essentially an easy to use game-engine a la Unity or UnrealEngine."Dreams lets you 3D model/sculpt, texture, animate and create game logic, allowing complete 3D games to be authored from scratch. Here is a Youtube video showing someone 3D modeling a fairly sophisticated game character and environment in Dreams. Everything from platformers to FPS games to puzzle, RPG and Minecraft type games can be created. What is interesting about Dreams is that everything anybody creates with it becomes available and downloadable in the DreamVerse and playable by other Dreams users -- so Dreams is also a distribution tool like Steam, in that you can share your creations with others. While PC users have long had access to 3D modeling and game authoring tools, Dreams has for the first time opened up creating console games from scratch to PS4 owners, and appears to have made the processs quicker, easier and more intuitive than, say, learning 3D Studio Max and Unity on a PC. Dreams comes with hours of tutorial walkthroughs for beginners, so in a sense it is a game engine that also teaches how to make games in the first place. Back in January Push Square gushed that "There's simply nothing like this that's ever been done before... This[..]

Who Killed America's Demo Scene?

(6 days ago)
Jason Koebler shares Vice's analysis of demoparties -- "gatherings where programmers showcase artistic audiovisual works, known as demos, after a day- or days-long coding marathon that is part bacchanal and part competition" -- starting with a visit to New York's Synchrony.I had arrived just in time to catch the end of a set by the electronic musician Melody Loveless, who was at a folding table near the front of the room writing code that generated the music. These sorts of live coding performances have been a staple of demoparties -- gatherings organized by and for the creative computing underground -- for decades... Demos are often made by teams of programmers and are almost always rendered in real time (as opposed to, say, an animated movie, which is a pre-rendered recording). Demoparty competitions, or compos, are generally divided into categories where demo submissions must adhere to certain restrictions. For example, some compos only allow demos that were made on a Commodore 64 computer or demos that were created using under 4,000 bytes of data. In every case, however, the point of the competition is to push computing hardware to its limits in the service of digital art... Given the abundance of digital art institutions in New York -- Eyebeam, Rhizome, LiveCode.NYC, and the School for Poetic Computation -- the lack of demoparties is conspicuous and in stark contrast to the European demoscene, which boasts dozens of annual demoparties, some of which attract thousands of[..]

Salesforce Triggers 15-Hour Shutdown After Faulty Script Starts Granting View/Modify Access

(6 days ago)
Friday Salesforce "was forced to shut down large chunks of its infrastructure," ZDNet reports, calling it one of the company's biggest outages ever:At the heart of the outage was a change the company made to its production environment that broke access permission settings across organizations and gave employees access to all of their company's files. According to reports on Reddit, users didn't just get read access, but they also received write permissions, making it easy for malicious employees to steal or tamper with a company's data... Salesforce said the script only impacted customers of Salesforce Pardot -- a business-to-business (B2B) marketing-focused CRM. However, out of an abundance of caution, the company decided to take down all other Salesforce services, for both current and former Pardot customers. "As a result, customers who were not affected may have also experienced service disruption, including customers using Marketing Cloud integrations," Salesforce said. A status update at Salesforce.com reports that the final duration of the service disruption was 15 hours and 8 minutes.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple CEO Tim Cook Tells Graduates To 'Push Back' Against Belief-Reinforcing Algorithms

(6 days ago)
CNBC reports:Apple CEO Tim Cook challenged Gen Z to clean up the messes Baby Boomers have left behind. "In some important ways, my generation has failed you," Cook said Saturday in his commencement speech at Tulane University in New Orleans, La., at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. He emphasized climate change, according to the article -- though he also shared a memory about how Steve Jobs had convinced him to leave Compaq in 1998 "to join a company that was on the verge of bankruptcy." Cook gave some advice while remembering all the hard work that followed:"There is a saying that if you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life," Cook said Saturday in his commencement speech at Tulane University in New Orleans, La., at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. "At Apple, I learned that is a total crock," Cook said. Rather, when you find a job you are passionate about, you will work hard, but you won't mind doing so, Cook says. "You will work harder than you ever thought possible, but the tools will feel light in your hands," Cook says. Cook also emphasized the importance of listening to other opinions, according to Business Insider:In what could have been a reference to Facebook, which has been under scrutiny in recent years over how it chooses the information displayed in its News Feed, the Apple CEO urged students to open their eyes. "Today, certain algorithms pull you toward the things you already know, believe, or like, and they push away everything else," he said. "Push[..]

Facebook bans "inauthentic" accounts targeting Africa

(7 days ago)
Facebook blocked an Israeli firm it said was behind fake accounts mostly targeting elections in Africa.

Global education X-Prize awards $10m

(7 days ago)
A British charity wins $5m for an app designed to monitor how children learn.

Russian bots rigged Voice Kids TV talent show result

(7 days ago)
A 10-year-old singer wins a Russian TV talent show thanks to thousands of fraudulent votes.

Five seater self-flying air taxi unveiled

(7 days ago)
Lilium says the craft, which had its first test flight this month, could travel 300km in an hour.

Driverless lorry allowed on public Swedish roads

(7 days ago)
The lorry will move slowly but can carry tonnes of goods.

Big Bang Theory finally bows out

(7 days ago)
Fans say a [spoiler-free] goodbye to the US sitcom as its final episode airs in the US after 12 years.

Health: Apps and technology could help 'patient power'

(7 days ago)
Apps and wearable technology are starting to help patients monitor their health and medicines.

The doctor who invented 18 medical devices

(7 days ago)
Professionals are finding holes in the system and turning into entrepreneurs to fill gaps in the market.

Nasa plans first woman Moon mission and other news

(7 days ago)
BBC Click's Jen Copestake looks at some of the week's best technology stories.

College Requires All CS Majors To Take An Improv Class

(7 days ago)
Northeastern University requires all of its computer science majors to take improv -- a class in theatre and improvisation, taught by professors in the drama department. The Wall Street Journal says it "forces students to come out of their shells and exercise creative play" before they can get their diplomas. (Although when the class was made mandatory in 2016, "We saw a lot of hysterics and crying," says Carla E. Brodley, dean of the computer science department.) So what happens to the computer science majors at Northeastern?The course requires public speaking, lecturing on such nontechnical topics as family recipes. Students also learn to speak gibberish -- 'butuga dubuka manala phuthusa,' for instance... One class had students stare into a classmate's eyes for 60 seconds. If someone laughed, you had to try again... The class is a way to 'robot-proof' computer-science majors, helping them sharpen uniquely human skills, said Joseph E. Aoun, the university president. Empathy, creativity and teamwork help students exercise their competitive advantage over machines in the era of artificial intelligence, according to Mr. Aoun, who wrote a book about it... Other professionals agree that improv can teach the teamwork and communication required of working with others. Many software applications now are built in small teams, a collaboration of engineers, writers and designers.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Are Trendy Developers Ignoring Tradeoffs and Over-Engineering Workplaces?

(7 days ago)
An anonymous reader shares an article titled "Does IT Run on Java 8?" "After more than ten years in tech, in a range of different environments, from Fortune 500 companies, to startups, I've finally come to realize that most businesss and developers simply don't revolve around whatever's trending on Hacker News," argues one Python/R/Spark data scientist:Most developers -- and companies -- are part of what [programmer] Scott Hanselman dubbed a while ago as the 99%... "They don't read a lot of blogs, they never write blogs, they don't go to user groups, they don't tweet or facebook, and you don't often see them at large conferences. Lots of technologies don't iterate at this speed, nor should they. "Embedded developers are still doing their thing in C and C++. Both are deeply mature and well understood languages that don't require a lot of churn or panic on the social networks. Where are the dark matter developers? Probably getting work done. Maybe using ASP.NET 1.1 at a local municipality or small office. Maybe working at a bottling plant in Mexico in VB6. Perhaps they are writing PHP calendar applications at a large chip manufacturer." While some companies are using Spark and Druid and Airflow, some are still using Coldfusion... Or telnet... Or Microsoft TFS... There are reasons updates are not made. In some cases, it's a matter of national security (like at NASA). In others, people get used to what they know. In some cases, the old tech is better... In some cases, it's both[..]

Protect Solar System From Mining 'Gold Rush', Say Scientists

(7 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes the Guardian:Great swathes of the solar system should be preserved as official "space wilderness" to protect planets, moons and other heavenly bodies from rampant mining and other forms of industrial exploitation, scientists say. The proposal calls for more than 85% of the solar system to be placed off-limits to human development, leaving little more than an eighth for space firms to mine for precious metals, minerals and other valuable materials. While the limit would protect pristine worlds from the worst excesses of human activity, its primary goal is to ensure that humanity avoids a catastrophic future in which all of the resources within its reach are permanently used up. "If we don't think about this now, we will go ahead as we always have, and in a few hundred years we will face an extreme crisis, much worse than we have on Earth now," said Martin Elvis, a senior astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "Once you've exploited the solar system, there's nowhere left to go..." Working with Tony Milligan, a philosopher at King's College London, Elvis analysed how soon humans might use up the solar system's most accessible resources should space mining take off. They found that an annual growth rate of 3.5% would use up an eighth of the solar system's realistic resources in 400 years. At that point, humanity would have only 60 years to apply the brakes and avoid exhausting the supply completely.Read[..]

Ask Slashdot: Why Did It Take So Long For Cars To Become Aerodynamically Shaped?

(7 days ago)
Here's what dryriver wondered after hearing that the oldest Porsche T64 in the world -- built in 1939 -- was going to be auctioned:What stands out about this nearly 80 year old car is how curved and aerodynamically shaped it is. If you then Google 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s car images, you find that they are nowhere near as aerodynamic in shape. It took a while before production cars started to appear en masse that had a nicely-curved aerodynamic body, and before Bezier curves were invented, which allowed early CAD software to produce precisely curved designs. Why did it take so long for cars to become more curved if aircraft of that time already had aerodynamic curves and the benefits of an aerodynamically shaped land vehicle were also known? Was it an issue with actually manufacturing curved cars in great numbers below a certain cost level, or did the automotive industry simply not care about the aerodynamics of their vehicles for a long time? Long-time Slashdot reader MightyYar blames cheap gas, arguing that "When gas was nearly free, there was little incentive to make vehicles aerodynamic." (He also complains that "When they did go aerodynamic, they all started to look the same -- as there is an optimal aerodynamic design for a box on wheels so every designer with the same cost constraints and design tools will converge on that.") Z00L00K adds that "Until the 1930's aerodynamic drag wasn't really an issue for vehicles because the top speed wasn't that high and the roads[..]

Severe Linux Kernel Flaw Found In RDS

(7 days ago)
jwhyche (Slashdot reader #6,192) shared this article from Sophos:Linux systems running kernels prior to 5.0.8 require patching after news emerged of a high-severity flaw that could be remotely exploited. According to the NIST advisory, CVE-2019-1181 is a race condition affecting the kernel's rds_tcp_kill_sock in net/rds/tcp.c "leading to a use-after-free, related to net namespace cleanup." The RDS bit refers to systems running the Reliable Datagram Sockets (RDS) for the TCP module, which means only systems that run applications using this are affected. The attention-grabbing part is that this opens unpatched systems to remote compromise and denial of service without the need for system privileges or user interaction. On the other hand, the attack complexity is described as 'high', and any such attack would need to be launched from the local network.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Russia's Anti-5G Propaganda Campaign Is Spreading Across Social Media

(7 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes Fierce Wireless:Earlier this week, the New York Times published a story with the headline "Your 5G Phone Won't Hurt You. But Russia Wants You to Think Otherwise." [Non-paywalled MSN version here.] The story outlined how RT, the Russia-backed and U.S.-based television network, has been peddling 5G cancer fear-mongering stories, making claims that 5G causes brain cancer, infertility, autism, Alzheimer's and other health disorders. The Times reports RT has run seven such programs this year, including pieces entitled "5G Apocalypse" and "Experiment on Humanity." The Times article claims that disinformation in these news segments has spread across Facebook, YouTube and TV news channels, and that news outlets almost never mention RT's Russian origins. Anna Belkina, RT's head of communications in Moscow, told the Times in an email, "Unlike many other media, we show the breadth of debate." But, U.S. officials have accused RT of being the Kremlin's principal international propaganda outlet. VentureBeat adds that the New York Times "has accused Russian broadcaster RT America of stoking health-related 5G disinformation in an effort to delay other countries while Russia prepares to belatedly launch the new technology," adding that at least one of the programs told its viewers in America that 5G "might kill you...." "Meanwhile, efforts to launch 5G networks are underway within Russia itself, and the New York Times reports that Russians have embraced even more[..]

New John the Ripper Cracks Passwords On FPGAs

(7 days ago)
Long-time Slashdot reader solardiz has long bring an advocate for bringing security to open environments. Wednesday he contacted Slashdot to share this update about a piece of software he's authored called John the Ripper:John the Ripper is the oldest still evolving password cracker program (and Open Source project), first released in 1996. John the Ripper 1.9.0-jumbo-1, which has just been announced with a lengthy list of changes, is the first release to include FPGA support (in addition to CPU, GPU, and Xeon Phi). This is a long-awaited (or long-delayed) major release, encompassing 4.5 years of development and 6000+ commits by 80+ contributors. From the announcement: "Added FPGA support for 7 hash types for ZTEX 1.15y boards [...] we support: bcrypt, descrypt (including its bigcrypt extension), sha512crypt & Drupal7, sha256crypt, md5crypt (including its Apache apr1 and AIX smd5 variations) & phpass. As far as we're aware, several of these are implemented on FPGA for the very first time. For bcrypt, our ~119k c/s at cost 5 in ~27W greatly outperforms latest high-end GPUs per board, per dollar, and per Watt. [...] We also support multi-board clusters (tested [...] for up to 16 boards, thus 64 FPGAs, [...] on a Raspberry Pi 2 host)."Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Bankrupt US Coal Producer Was Funding Climate Change Denial

(7 days ago)
The bankruptcy of one of America's largest coal producers revealed that the company was helping to fund "think tanks that have attacked the link between the burning of fossil fuels and climate change, as well as to several conservative advocacy groups that have attempted to undermine policies intended to shift the economy toward renewable energy," reports the Intercept.The document shows that Cloud Peak Energy helped fund the Institute of Energy Research, a Washington, D.C.-based group that has dismissed the "so-called scientific consensus" on climate change and regularly criticizes investments in renewable energy as a "waste" of resources. Several of the groups that receive funding from Cloud Peak Energy have used aggressive tactics to attempt to discredit environmentalists. The Center for Consumer Freedom, one of the groups listed in the coal company's filing, is part of a sprawling network of front groups set up by a lobbyist named Rick Berman geared toward attacking green groups such as the Sierra Club and Food & Water Watch as dangerous radicals. Other organizations quietly bankrolled by Cloud Peak Energy have directly shaped state policy... The Montana Policy Institute -- a local libertarian think tank that promotes a discredited claim that world temperatures are falling, not rising, and questions whether humans cause climate change -- also received funding from the firm.... Four years ago, falling coal prices led to a series of bankruptcies of the largest coal[..]

American Explorer Completes Deepest Submarine Dive In History

(7 days ago)
schwit1 quotes the maritime industry news site gCaptain:A private equity investor from Dallas, Texas and his team of explorers have completed a series of record-breaking dives to Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench, commonly known as the deepest place on earth. The initial record-setting dive took took place on April 28 when American, Victor Vescovo, a retired U.S. Navy officer, made a solo dive to the bottom of the 'Eastern Pool' of the Challenger Deep, reaching a depth of 10,928 meters (35,853 feet deep) and setting a new world record for the deepest dive by any human in history. Vescovo spent four hours (248 minutes) exploring the basin, setting another new record for the longest period of time ever spent on the bottom of the ocean by an individual. The 10,928-meter depth beats the previous manned dive record by 16 meters (52 feet). [A record set in 2012 by James Cameron.] CNN reports the explorer "returned to the surface with the depressing news that there appears to be plastic trash down there... As well as four new species that could offer clues about the origins of life on Earth, Vescovo said he observed a plastic bag and candy wrappers at the deepest point on the planet."Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Images + Facial Recognition Find Thief Who Looked Like Woody Harrelson

(7 days ago)
"The New York Police Department used a photo of Woody Harrelson in its facial recognition program in an attempt to identify a beer thief who looked like the actor," reports the Associated Press:Georgetown University's Center on Privacy and Technology highlighted the April 2017 episode in "Garbage In, Garbage Out," a report on what it says are flawed practices in law enforcement's use of facial recognition. The report says security footage of the thief was too pixelated and produced no matches while high-quality images of Harrelson, a three-time Oscar nominee, returned several possible matches and led to one arrest. The NYPD also used a photo of a New York Knicks player to search its database for a man wanted for a Brooklyn assault, the report said. "The stakes are too high in criminal investigations to rely on unreliable â" or wrong â" inputs," Georgetown researcher Clare Garvie wrote.... The Georgetown report says facial recognition has helped the NYPD crack about 2,900 cases in more than five years of using the technology. And in Florida, Vice reports, law enforcement agencies "run roughly 8,000 of these searches per month."Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Pushes Kotlin Over Java for Android Development

(7 days ago)
Google "officially declared Kotlin the go-to language for Android development last week at its Google I/O developer conference," reports Mike Melanson's "This Week in Programming" column, "and the company is backing that up with a couple of initiatives around making it easier (and free) to learn the language now used by a majority of Android developers."Google teamed up with Udacity to offer Developing Android Apps with Kotlin , a free, self-paced online course on how to build Android apps with Jetpack and Kotlin, meant for people who have programming experience and are comfortable with Kotlin basics. Google also announced "Kotlin/Everywhere, a series of community-driven events focussing on the potential of Kotlin on all platforms," which it is putting on in conjunction with JetBrains. Of course, this leaves the question that has been asked many times before -- why Kotlin? -- and IT consultant Kristen Carter offers a take on how Android app development became Kotlin-first. Carter offers some business angles, such as the 2010 lawsuit against Google by Oracle, which predates Kotlin by just a year, and she speculates may have been the impetus behind the language's development as "Google has always wanted to get away from the [Java] ecosystem." At the same time, Carter offers some language-specific reasoning too, such as the comparably succinct nature of Kotlin, the absence of Java's NullPointerExceptions, and the ease with which Java developers could transition to Kotlin.[..]

Critics Call White House Social Media Bias Survey A 'Data Collection Ploy'

(7 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes the Washington Post:Venky Ganesan, a partner at technology investor Menlo Ventures, told The Washington Post that the White House's new survey about bias on social media is "pure kabuki theatre" and an attempt to curry political points with conservatives. He said the Trump administration's repeated accusations that tech companies censor conservative voices are unfounded because even though most Silicon Valley executives are liberal or libertarian, they wouldn't let politics get in the way of their primary goal: making money... The Internet Association, a trade association representing Facebook, Google and other tech companies, also pushed back on President Trump's repeated accusations that their products are biased against conservatives. The association says the platforms are open and enable the speech of all Americans -- including the president himself. "That's why the president uses Twitter so much," said Michael Beckerman, the Internet Association's chief executive. "He actually used Twitter for this particular announcement, which is perhaps ironic." The article adds that the Trump administration "declined to tell The Washington Post what it planned to do with the data it's amassing." But on Twitter the New York Times technology columnist Kevin Roose argued that the survey "is just going to be used to assemble a voter file, which Trump will then pay Facebook millions of dollars to target with ads about how biased Facebook is." Vice also believes[..]

Chelsea Manning Sent Back To Jail For Refusing To Testify Before Grand Jury

(7 days ago)
After being released from jail earlier this month after the grand jury she refused to testify before expired, NPR reports that Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst who provided information to WikiLeaks, has been sent back to jail. An anonymous reader shares the report: Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was sent back to jail Thursday after refusing for a second time to comply with a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. "Facing jail again, potentially today, doesn't change my stance," Manning told reporters in Alexandria, Va., before U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga said she was in contempt of court. "I will not cooperate with this or any other grand jury," Manning insisted. "So it doesn't matter what it is or what the case is, I'm just not going to comply or cooperate." Manning said prosecutors had put her in an impossible position despite the Justice Department granting her immunity from self-incrimination. In addition to being held in custody for the duration of the grand jury's investigation or until Manning testifies, the judge ordered her to be fined $500 every day that she is in custody after 30 days and $1,000 every day in custody after 60 days, according to a statement by Manning's lawyers.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Why Play a Music CD? 'No Ads, No Privacy Terrors, No Algorithms'

(7 days ago)
Ben Sisario, American author, academic, and journalist who covers the music industry for The New York Times, shares why he still likes to list to compact discs: I try to keep an eye on all the major platforms out there, which means regularly poking around on about a dozen apps. My go-to sources are Spotify, SoundCloud, Bandcamp and Mixcloud, which has excellent D.J.-style mixes and to me feels more human than most. At home I have a Sonos Play:5 speaker, which plays streaming music and podcasts, and is a piece of cake to use. I also have Google Chromecast Audio, a little plug-in device (now discontinued) that allows me to send high-fidelity streams to my stereo. It sounds better that way, but it's not nearly as easy to use as the Sonos. To be honest, my preferred way to listen to music is on CD, as unfashionable as that might be. You push a button, the music plays, and then it's over -- no ads, no privacy terrors, no algorithms! Do you share the same sentiment as Sisario, or have you gone all in on music streaming? Why or why not?Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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