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The Tech Failings of Hawaii's Missile Alert

Slashdot - Mon, 15/01/2018 - 16:10
Over the weekend, Hawaii incorrectly warned citizens of a missile attack via their phones. According to The Washington Post, the error was a result of a staffer picking the wrong option -- missile alert instead of test missile alert -- from a drop down software menu. Hawaiian officials say they have already changed protocols to avoid a repeat of the scenario. The report goes on to add: Part of what worsened the situation Saturday was that there was no system in place at the state emergency agency for correcting the error, HEMA (Hawaii Emergency Management Agency) spokesman Richard Rapoza said. The state agency had standing permission through FEMA to use civil warning systems to send out the missile alert -- but not to send out a subsequent false alarm alert, he said. Though the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency posted a follow-up tweet at 8:20 a.m. saying there was "NO missile threat," it wouldn't be until 8:45 a.m. that a subsequent cellphone alert was sent telling people to stand down. Motherboard notes that new regulations require telecom companies to offer a testing system for local and state alert originators, but because of lobbying by Verizon and CTIA, this specific regulation does not go into effect until March 2019. In a piece, The Atlantic argues that the 90-character messages sent by the system aren't suited to the way we use our devices.

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Which JavaScript Framework is the Most Popular?

Slashdot - Mon, 15/01/2018 - 14:34
An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld's report on which JavaScript frameworks are the most widely-used: In a study of 28-day download cycles for front-end JavaScript frameworks, NPM, which oversees the popular JavaScript package registry, found that React has been on a steady upward trajectory; it now accounts for about 0.05 percent of the registry's 13 billion downloads per month as of the fourth quarter of 2017. Web developers as well as desktop and mobile developers are adopting the library and it has spawned an ecosystem of related packages. Preact, a lightweight alternative to React, also has seen growth and could become a force in the future. On the down side, Backbone, which accounted for almost 0.1 percent of all downloads in 2013, now comprises only about 0.005 percent of downloads (about 750,000 per month). Backbone has declined steeply but is kept afloat by the long shelf life of projects using it, NPM reasoned. The jQuery JavaScript library also remains popular but has experienced decreasing interest. Angular, the Google-developed JavaScript framework, was the second-most-popular framework behind React, when combining the original Angular 1.x with the rewritten Angular 2.x. Version 1.x was at about 0.0125 percent of downloads last month while version 2.x was at about 0.02 percent. Still, Angular as a whole is showing just modest growth. They also report that the four JavaScript frameworks with the fastest growth rates for 2017 were Preact, Vue, React, and Ember. But for back end services written in JavaScript, npm reports that Express "is the overwhelmingly dominant solution... The next four biggest frameworks are so small relative to Express that it's hard to even see them."

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Jelly Deals: Get a six-month Xbox Live Gold subscription for half price

Eurogamer - Mon, 15/01/2018 - 13:50

A note from the editor: Jelly Deals is a deals site launched by our parent company, Gamer Network, with a mission to find the best bargains out there. Look out for the Jelly Deals roundup of reduced-price games and kit every Saturday on Eurogamer.

If you're an Xbox owner and you're one of these folks that likes to play multiplayer games online with other humans for some reason - or you just happen to like getting a stack of free games on a monthly basis - you're going to want an Xbox Live Gold subscription.

If you don't have one of those already or you just fancy extending it a little more, you can take advantage of Microsoft's current offer of a six-month Xbox Live Gold subscription for half price.

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Categories: Video Games

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp changes coming in response to user feedback

Eurogamer - Mon, 15/01/2018 - 13:12

Nintendo has heard your feedback on Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, the slightly underbaked smartphone spin-off of its popular life sim series.

A forthcoming update will improve two of the app's fiddly features: asking for help to enter the Shovelstrike Quarry without spending Leaf Tickets and the largely-forgotten Market Box.

Gardening will be getting an unspecified tune-up, while Nintendo will add new fish and bugs.

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Categories: Video Games

'Don't Fear the Robopocalypse': the Case for Autonomous Weapons

Slashdot - Mon, 15/01/2018 - 11:39
Lasrick shares "Don't fear the robopocalypse," an interview from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists with the former Army Ranger who led the team that established the U.S. Defense Department policy on autonomous weapons (and has written the upcoming book Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War). Paul Scharre makes the case for uninhabited vehicles, robot teammates, and maybe even an outer perimeter of robotic sentries (and, for mobile troops, "a cloud of air and ground robotic systems"). But he also argues that "In general, we should strive to keep humans involved in the lethal force decision-making process as much as is feasible. What exactly that looks like in practice, I honestly don't know." So does that mean he thinks we'll eventually see the deployment of fully autonomous weapons in combat? I think it's very hard to imagine a world where you physically take the capacity out of the hands of rogue regimes... The technology is so ubiquitous that a reasonably competent programmer could build a crude autonomous weapon in their garage. The idea of putting some kind of nonproliferation regime in place that actually keeps the underlying technology out of the hands of people -- it just seems really naive and not very realistic. I think in that kind of world, you have to anticipate that there are, at a minimum, going to be uses by terrorists and rogue regimes. I think it's more of an open question whether we cross the threshold into a world where nation-states are using them on a large scale. And if so, I think it's worth asking, what do we mean by"them"? What degree of autonomy? There are automated defensive systems that I would characterize as human-supervised autonomous weapons -- where a human is on the loop and supervising its operation -- in use by at least 30 countries today. They've been in use for decades and really seem to have not brought about the robopocalypse or anything. I'm not sure that those [systems] are particularly problematic. In fact, one could see them as being even more beneficial and valuable in an age when things like robot swarming and cooperative autonomy become more possible.

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Off Grid is about the principles of hacking

Eurogamer - Mon, 15/01/2018 - 10:00

In the mid 1990's, after what lawmen rather fancifully described as a "countrywide hacking spree" across the United States, a man called Kevin Mitnick was arrested. He was charged with 25 counts of computer-related crimes which, legend has it, included hacking into NORAD, North America's aerospace defence system, inspiring the '80s flick War Games along the way. Legend or not, Mitnick served five years in prison that included eight months in solitary confinement and restricted access to the telephone.

Mitnick was a 'phone freak'. By recording the sounds played by a payphone when coins were dropped in, he could then play them back to the phone to call whoever he wanted, and also use the then-extortionate internet for free. The problem, Mitnick has since claimed, is that a judge got wind of this particular talent and came to believe that, if granted access to a phone in prison, he could whistle into the receiver to launch a nuclear missile. One version of the story is that the judge actually watched War Games, wherein young Matthew Broderick accidentally hacks into a NORAD-equivalent over the phone, and was so influenced by its portrayal that he was overcome with paranoia, handing out Mitnick's overly harsh sentence as a result.

What people do agree on - at least they do now - is the fact that despite its wide reportage in the press, Kevin Mitnick never hacked into NORAD, and he had nothing to do with the inspiration for War Games. In a weird, ironic combination of rumour and sensationalism, it would appear that Mitnick spent eight months alone in prison, with no access to a phone, because a judge heard about the exploits of fictional hackers in a film he had also fictionally inspired.

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Categories: Video Games

City of Barcelona Dumps Windows For Linux and Open Source Software

Slashdot - Mon, 15/01/2018 - 07:39
An anonymous reader quotes Open Source Observatory: The City of Barcelona is migrating its computer systems away from the Windows platform, reports the Spanish newspaper El País. The City's strategy is first to replace all user applications with open-source alternatives, until the underlying Windows operating system is the only proprietary software remaining. In a final step, the operating system will be replaced with Linux... According to Francesca Bria, the Commissioner of Technology and Digital Innovation at the City Council, the transition will be completed before the current administration's mandate ends in spring 2019. For starters, the Outlook mail client and Exchange Server will be replaced with Open-Xchange. In a similar fashion, Internet Explorer and Office will be replaced with Firefox and LibreOffice, respectively. The Linux distribution eventually used will probably be Ubuntu, since the City of Barcelona is already running 1,000 Ubuntu-based desktops as part of a pilot... Barcelona is the first municipality to have joined the European campaign 'Public Money, Public Code'. This campaign is an initiative of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and revolves around an open letter advocating that publicly funded software should be free. Currently, this call to public agencies is supported by more than 100 organisations and almost 15,000 individuals. With the new open-source strategy, Barcelona's City Council aims to avoid spending large amounts of money on licence-based software and to reduce its dependence on proprietary suppliers through contracts that in some cases have been closed for decades.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

California Will Close Its Last Nuclear Power Plant

Slashdot - Mon, 15/01/2018 - 06:09
An anonymous reader quotes the San Francisco Chronicle: California's last nuclear power plant -- Diablo Canyon, whose contentious birth helped shape the modern environmental movement -- will close in 2025, state utility regulators decided Thursday. The unanimous vote by the California Public Utilities Commission will likely bring an end to nuclear energy's long history in the state. State law forbids building more nuclear plants in California until the federal government creates a long-term solution for dealing with their waste, a goal that remains elusive despite decades of effort. The decision comes even as California expands its fight against global warming. Owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Diablo Canyon is the state's largest power plant, supplying 9 percent of California's electricity while producing no greenhouse gases. "With this decision, we chart a new energy future by phasing out nuclear power here in California," said commission President Michael Picker. "We've looked hard at all the arguments, and we agree the time has come."

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Hackers Hijack DNS For Lumens Cryptocurrency Site 'BlackWallet', Steal $400,000

Slashdot - Mon, 15/01/2018 - 04:39
An anonymous reader quotes BleepingComputer: Unknown hackers (or hacker) have hijacked the DNS server for BlackWallet.co, a web-based wallet application for the Stellar Lumen cryptocurrency (XLM), and have stolen over $400,000 from users' accounts. The attack happened late Saturday afternoon (UTC timezone), January 13, when the attackers hijacked the DNS entry of the BlackWallet.co domain and redirected it to their own server. "The DNS hijack of Blackwallet injected code," said Kevin Beaumont, a security researcher who analyzed the code before the BlackWallet team regained access over their domain and took down the site. "If you had over 20 Lumens it pushes them to a different wallet," Beaumont added... According to Bleeping Computer's calculations, as of writing, the attacker collected 669,920 Lumens, which is about $400,192 at the current XML/USD exchange rate. The BlackWallet team and other XLM owners have tried to warn users via alerts on Reddit, Twitter, GitHub, the Stellar Community and GalacticTalk forums, but to no avail, as users continued to log into the rogue BlackWallet.co domain, enter their credentials, and then see funds mysteriously vanish from their wallets.

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20 Years Later, Has Open Source Changed the World?

Slashdot - Mon, 15/01/2018 - 02:39
"Most code remains closed and proprietary, even though open source now dominates enterprise platforms," notes Matt Asay, former COO at Canonical (and an emeritus board member of the Open Source Initiative). "How can that be?" he asks, in an essay noting it's been almost 20 years since the launch of the Open Source Initiative, arguing that so far open source "hasn't changed the world as promised." [T]he reason most software remains locked up within the four walls of enterprise firewalls is that it's too costly with too small of an ROI to justify open-sourcing it. At least, that's the perception. Such a perception is impossible to break without walking the open source path, which companies are unwilling to walk without upfront proof. See the problem? This chicken-and-egg conundrum is starting to resolve itself, thanks to the forward-looking efforts of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other web giants that are demonstrating the value of open-sourcing code. Although it's unlikely that a State Farm or Chevron will ever participate in the same way as a Microsoft, we are starting to see companies like Bloomberg and Capital One get involved in open source in ways they never would have considered back when the term "open source" was coined in 1997, much less in 2007. It's a start. Let's also not forget that although we have seen companies use more open source code over the past 20 years, the biggest win for open source since its inception is how it has changed the narrative of how innovation happens in software. We're starting to believe, and for good reason, that the best, most innovative software is open source. The article strikes a hopeful note. "We're now comfortable with the idea that software can, and maybe should, be open source without the world ending. The actual opening of that source, however, is something to tackle in the next 20 years.

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VMware Bug Allowed Root Access

Slashdot - Mon, 15/01/2018 - 01:39
c4231 quotes Ars Technica: While everyone was screaming about Meltdown and Spectre, another urgent security fix was already in progress for many corporate data centers and cloud providers who use products from Dell's EMC and VMware units. A trio of critical, newly reported vulnerabilities in EMC and VMware backup and recovery tools -- EMC Avamar, EMC NetWorker, EMC Integrated Data Protection Appliance, and vSphere Data Protection -- could allow an attacker to gain root access to the systems or to specific files, or inject malicious files into the server's file system. These problems can only be fixed with upgrades. While the EMC vulnerabilities were announced late last year, VMware only became aware of its vulnerability last week.

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How Millions of Iranians Are Evading Internet Censors

Slashdot - Mon, 15/01/2018 - 00:39
schwit1 quotes the Wall Street Journal: Authorities in Tehran have ratcheted up their policing of the internet in the past week and a half, part of an attempt to stamp out the most far-reaching protests in Iran since 2009. But the crackdown is driving millions of Iranians to tech tools that can help them evade censors, according to activists and developers of the tools. Some of the tools were attracting three or four times more unique users a day than they were before the internet crackdown, potentially weakening government efforts to control access to information online. "By the time they wake up, the government will have lost control of the internet," said Mehdi Yahyanejad, executive director of NetFreedom Pioneers, a California-based technology nonprofit that largely focuses on Iran and develops educational and freedom of information tools. Wired calls it "the biggest protest movement in Iran since the 2009 Green Movement uprising," criticing tech companies which "continue to deny services to Iranians that could be crucial to free and open communications."

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Japan's Latest Sensation is a Cryptocurrency Pop Group

Slashdot - Sun, 14/01/2018 - 23:39
An anonymous reader quotes Engadget: If you're starting a pop group in Japan, where giant rosters and virtual superstars are par for the course, how do you stand out? By tying yourself to something trendy -- and in 2018, that means cryptocurrency. Meet Kasotsuka Shojo (Virtual Currency Girls), a J-pop group where each of the eight girls represents one of the larger digital monetary formats. Yes, you're supposed to cheer for bitcoin or swoon over ethereum (what, no litecoin?). The group played its first concert on January 12th, and naturally you had to pay in cryptocurrency to be one of the few members of the general public to get in. The group's first single, "The Moon and Virtual Currencies and Me," warns listeners about the perils of fraud and extols the virtues of good online security. "It isn't clear how French maid outfits symbolize cryptocurrency or blockchain technology," notes Quartz, "but they're popular costumes in Japan's anime and cosplay circles."

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Calls to Action on the Fifth Anniversary of the Death of Aaron Swartz

Slashdot - Sun, 14/01/2018 - 22:39
On the fifth anniversary of the death of Aaron Swartz, EFF activist Elliot Harmon posted a remembrance: When you look around the digital rights community, it's easy to find Aaron's fingerprints all over it. He and his organization Demand Progress worked closely with EFF to stop SOPA. Long before that, he played key roles in the development of RSS, RDF, and Creative Commons. He railed hard against the idea of government-funded scientific research being unavailable to the public, and his passion continues to motivate the open access community. Aaron inspired Lawrence Lessig to fight corruption in politics, eventually fueling Lessig's White House run... It's tempting to become pessimistic in the face of countless threats to free speech and privacy. But the story of the SOPA protests demonstrates that we can win in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. He shares a link to a video of Aaron's most inspiring talk, "How We Stopped SOPA," writing that "Aaron warned that SOPA wouldn't be the last time Hollywood attempted to use copyright law as an excuse to censor the Internet... 'The enemies of the freedom to connect have not disappeared... We won this fight because everyone made themselves the hero of their own story. Everyone took it as their job to save this crucial freedom. They threw themselves into it. They did whatever they could think of to do.'" On the anniversary of Aaron's death, his brother Ben Swartz, an engineer at Twitch, wrote about his own efforts to effect change in ways that would've made Aaron proud, while Aaron's mother urged calls to Congress to continue pushing for reform to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. And there were countless other remembrances on Twitter, including one fro Cory Doctorow, who tweeted a link to Lawrence Lessig's analysis of the prosecution. And Lessig himself marked the anniversary with several posts on Twitter. "None should rest," reads one, "for still, there is no peace."

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Text Message Scammer Gets Five Years in Prison

Slashdot - Sun, 14/01/2018 - 21:34
36-year-old Fraser Thompson is going to prison, according to Reuters, after receiving a five-year sentence for "defrauding" cellphone customers out of millions of dollars. An anonymous reader quotes Reuters: Prosecutors said Thompson engaged in a scheme to sign up hundreds of thousands of cellphone customers for paid text messaging services without their consent. The customers were subsequently forced to pay more than $100 million for unsolicited text messages that included trivia, horoscopes and celebrity gossip, according to the prosecutors. They said the scheme was headed by Darcy Wedd, Mobile Messenger's former chief executive, who was found guilty by a jury in December but has not yet been sentenced. "They ripped off everyday cellphone users, $10 a month, netting over $100 million in illegal profits, of which Thompson personally received over $1.5 million," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. Thompson was ordered to forfeit $1.5 million in "fraud proceeds," according to the article, and was convicted of conspiracy, wire fraud, identity theft and money laundering. Seven other people also pleaded guilty to participating in the scam -- and one has already been sentenced to 33 months in prison.

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Russian Military Base Attacked By Drones

Slashdot - Sun, 14/01/2018 - 20:34
A Russian military base in Syria was recently attacked -- 20 miles from the frontline. The only video of the attack is from a Facebook group for a nearby town, which identifies the noises as an "anti-aircraft response to a remote-controlled aircraft," while the Russian Ministry of Defence claims at least 13 drones were involved in the attack, displaying pictures of drones with a wingspan around 13 feet (four meters). Long-time Slashdot reader 0x2A shares a report from a former British Army officer who calls drones "the poor man's Air Force," who writes that the attack shows "a strategic grasp of the use of drones, as well as a high level of planning." The lack of cameras on the drones suggest that they are likely pre-loaded with a flight plan and then flown autonomously to their target, where they dropped their payload en masse on a given GPS coordinate... The lack of any kind of claim, or even rumours from the rebels, indicates that whoever is producing these drone and launching these attacks has a high level of discipline and an understanding of operational and personal security... Although some regard the threat from commerical off-the-shelf and improvised drones as negligible, they have the power to inflict losses at both a tactical and strategic level... Although the plastic sheeting, tape and simple design may belie the illusion of sophistication, it seems that the use of drones, whether military, commerical off-the-shelf or improvised, is taking another step to becoming the future of conflict. The article notes there's already been four weaponized drone attacks in Syria over the last two weeks, which according to CNBC may be part of a growing trend. "Experts said swarm-like attacks using weaponized drones is a growing threat and likely to only get worse. They also said the possibility exists of terrorists using these drones in urban areas against civilians."

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Following Other Credit Cards, Visa Will Also Stop Requiring Signatures

Slashdot - Sun, 14/01/2018 - 19:34
An anonymous reader quotes SiliconBeat: Visa, the largest U.S. credit card issuer, became the last of the major credit card companies to announce its plan to make signatures optional... Visa joined American Express, Discover, and Mastercard in the phase-out. Mastercard was the first one to announce the move in October, and American Express and Discover followed suit in December... However, this change does not apply to every credit card in circulation; older credit cards without EMV chips will still require signatures for authentication... Since 2011, Visa has deployed more than 460 million EMV chip cards and EMV chip-enabled readers at more than 2.5 million locations. "Businesses that accepted EMV cards reported a 66 percent decline in fraud in the first two years of EMV deployment," the article notes -- suggesting a future where fewer shoppers are signing their receipts. "In Canada, Australia and most of Europe, credit cards have long abandoned the signature for the EMV chip and a PIN to authenticate the transaction, like one does with a debit card."

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Is There a Warning in 'Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams'?

Slashdot - Sun, 14/01/2018 - 18:34
An anonymous reader quotes io9: That signature feeling feeling of queasy, slow-burning tumult comes through in Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, which originally aired in the UK last September, but is making its American premiere on Amazon Prime this Friday, January 12. The breadth of interpretations across the show's 10 episodes is the real draw for Electric Dreams. One episode will be set in something meant to recognizably stand in for the real world while others are trippy explorations into realities that could never exist. Unfortunately, Electric Dreams' episodes don't just vary in aesthetics; they vary wildly in quality, too... When Electric Dreams fires on all cylinders, it energizes these short story adaptations by drilling down into the minutiae of how science fiction concepts would alter our everyday existences in real life. The series' common theme is how scientific and technological advancement shears the soul away from our bodies...Electric Dreams' most important task is to show both new viewers and conversant fans why Dick's oeuvre matters, which is hard in a world where we're eerily close to some of his fictional realities... We're so busy trying to ground ourselves amid constant change that it can be hard to pull out and see society's sweeping shifts. In the '50s and beyond, Dick's science fiction writing mapped out the darker corners of where hi-speed techno-fetishes could take us. For all its unevenness, Electric Dreams adapts his work to show us where we are, relative to his prognostications. If you feel weirded out while watching, that just means the show is doing its job.

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Playing two Punch-Outs! on one pad: AGDQ 2018 raises $2.2m for charity

Eurogamer - Sun, 14/01/2018 - 18:31

Charity speedrunning drive Awesome Games Done Quick 2018 has been a huge success, raising more than $2.26m for the Prevent Cancer Foundation in one week. A late surge in donations helped AGDQ 2018 surpass the $2.22m raised last year.

Some of the AGDQ 2018 highlights include zallard1 playing Mike Tyson's Punch-Out! and Super Punch-Out! at the same time and on the same controller...

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Categories: Video Games

The Linux Kernel Mailing List is Down

Slashdot - Sun, 14/01/2018 - 17:48
Every page on LKML.org is currently displaying this error message along with a picture of Flits the cat. What started out as a power outage while I was on vacation (leading to the computer hosting the backend of this site being unable to boot) became a larger issue as the mainboard in that computer appears to be broken. Not wanting to let you wait for a spare part to arrive, I'm currently (while being assisted by our cat Flits) busy copying over all data to a VPS, and getting things working from there. The rsync is progressing slowly, having copied over the first 50% in three hours (at 14:30 CET). Please check back later for status updates.

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