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Iraq Shuts Down Internet In Entire Country To Prevent Exam Cheating

An anonymous reader writes: The Iraqi government has ordered ISPs to shut down Internet access in the entire country to prevent exam cheating for Iraq's official exams for secondary and high schools. This is the second year in a row when Iraq does this, after the same thing happened in 2015. Companies like Akamai and Dyn also noted the government's poor decision on Twitter. It appears that Iraqi officials never heard of signal jammers and video cameras to combat exam cheating. The country's Internet went dark May 14-16th, between 05:00 AM and 08:00 AM GMT. An Iraqi ISP leaked on Facebook the content of an email it received from state officials.

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Live-Action Tetris Movie Secures $80 Million Funding, Plans To Be Part Of A Trilogy

An anonymous reader writes: In 2014, Threshold Entertainment announced it would be producing a live-action film based on the Russian stacking game Tetris. Today, Threshold Entertainment announced it had secured $80 million in funding for the project. Threshold's Larry Kasanoff has worked on the Mortal Kombat film in 1995, which grossed $70 million. Media mogul Bruno Wu, will serve as co-producer on the film ensuring that the movie will be able to sustain any unplanned budget overruns. According to Deadline, the film is planned for a 2017 release with Chinese locations and a Chinese case. However, Kasanoff notes "the goal is to make world movies for the world market." What's more is that the movie could be the basis of a trilogy, the producer says, with a plot that's "not at all what you think; it will be a cool surprise." Kasanoff told the Wall Street Journal that "this isn't a movie with a bunch of lines running around the page. We're not giving feet to the geometric shapes... What you [will] see in Tetris is the teeny tip of an iceberg that has intergalactic significance."

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Connecting Everyone To Internet 'Would Add $6.7 Trillion To Global Economy'

An anonymous reader writes: A report, titled Connecting the world: Ten mechanisms for global inclusion, and prepared for Facebook by PwC, says that global economic output would increase by $6.7 trillion if internet access was brought to the 4.1 billion people in the world who do not currently have it. It's estimated that this would raise 500 million people out of poverty. The company behind the report says affordability, rather than infrastructure, is the main barrier to internet adoption in most areas. More than 90% of people live in areas where the infrastructure exists to get them online, but most of them can't afford to do so. The report describes a 500MB data plan that costs more than 5% of one's monthly income as "unaffordable." Ethiopia, Nigeria and the Philippines, for example, would need to cut the price of internet access by over 90% in order for 80% of their populations to get online. Improved technology, or even installing existing technology in developing nations, will be sufficient in bringing much of this cost reduction. Facebook's Internet.org project, aimed at partnering carriers in developing nations to give low-cost internet access, has been criticized for allowing users to access some websites, like Wikipedia and Facebook, without paying for the data they use. Others say such an approach is worth it in the long run. "The important thing here is to get things moving," says Jonathan Tate, technology consulting leader at PwC. The report' authors estimate that the last 500 million people to get online won't be able to rely on piecemeal improvements. Instead, they'll need new "disruptive technologies" being created by companies like Google, with its Project Loon plan to mount internet access points on balloons, and Facebook, with its solar-powered, laser-armed 4G drone called Aquila.

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Genetically Modified Crops Are Safe, Report Says

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: Genetically modified crops on the market are not only safe, but appear to be good for people and the environment, experts determined in a report released Tuesday. "The committee delved into the relevant literature, heard from 80 diverse speakers, and read more than 700 comments from members of the public to broaden its understanding of issues surrounding GE crops," the report reads. Panel members read more than 900 reports. A lot of concern centered on health effects. The committee determined the following: there is no evidence of large-scale health effects on people from genetically modified foods; there is some evidence that crops genetically engineered to resist bugs have benefited people by reducing cases of insecticide poisoning; genetically engineered crops to benefit human health, such as those altered to produce more vitamin A, can reduce blindness and deaths due to vitamin A deficiency; using insect-resistant or herbicide-resistant crops did not damage plant or insect diversity and in some cases increased the diversity of insects; sometimes the added genes do leak out to nearby plants -- a process called gene flow -- but there is no evidence it has caused harm; in general, farmers who use GM soybean, cotton, and corn make more money but it does depend on how bad pests are and farming practices; GM crops do reduce losses to pests, and if farmers use insect-resistant crops but don't take enough care, sometimes pest insects develop resistance. The National Academics of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have put the evidence up on a website for skeptics of the report. The report also includes a 'Summarized Comments Received from Members of the Public' section for people to look up the facts to answer their concerns.

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Google Unveils 'Gigapixel' Camera To Preserve and Archive Art

An anonymous reader writes: The Google Institute has developed an ultra-high resolution gigapixel Art Camera which can automatically recompose images into single works of extraordinary detail. The first thousand images are released today, and include works by Rembrandt and Van Gogh. A gigapixel contains over one billion pixels, providing a level of detail unavailable even to the naked eye. The Art Camera has increased the number of available gigapixel art images from 200 to 1000 since 2011. The Art Camera consists of a robot camera that automatically takes hundreds of high resolution close-up photos of the details of an image, using laser and sonar technology to ensure that each image is in focus. Software is then used to take the hundreds of individual close-up pictures and combine them into one whole image. With this technology, one can view photos produced by classical artists from a computer or mobile device without needing to travel around the world to do so. These digital gigapixel images are intended to be available for viewing and studying for years. In the future, we may see Google use machine-learning algorithms to analyze influential classical painters and create new masterpieces.

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Firefox Tops Microsoft Browser Market Share For First Time

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: For the first time, Firefox has pulled ahead of Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Edge browsers. Mozilla's Firefox grabbed 15.6 percent of worldwide desktop browser usage in April, according to the latest numbers from Web analytics outfit StatCounter. Google Chrome continues to dominate two thirds of the market. StatCounter, which analyzed data from three million websites, found that Firefox's worldwide desktop browser usage last month was 0.1 percent ahead of the combined share of Internet Explorer and Edge at 15.5 percent. Firefox has reportedly been losing market share over the last three months, but Microsoft's Edge and Internet Explorer browsers appear to be declining faster. Last week, Mozilla launched Test Pilot, a program for trying out experimental Firefox features. They've also been fighting the FBI in court for details about a vulnerability in the Tor Browser hack, which may affect the company since the Tor browser is partially based on the Firefox browser code.

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Theoretical Breakthrough Made In Random Number Generation

msm1267 quotes a report from Threatpost: Two University of Texas academics have made what some experts believe is a breakthrough in random number generation that could have longstanding implications for cryptography and computer security. David Zuckerman, a computer science professor, and Eshan Chattopadhyay, a graduate student, published a paper in March that will be presented in June at the Symposium on Theory of Computing. The paper describes how the academics devised a method for the generation of high quality random numbers. The work is theoretical, but Zuckerman said down the road it could lead to a number of practical advances in cryptography, scientific polling, and the study of other complex environments such as the climate. "We show that if you have two low-quality random sources -- lower quality sources are much easier to come by -- two sources that are independent and have no correlations between them, you can combine them in a way to produce a high-quality random number," Zuckerman said. "People have been trying to do this for quite some time. Previous methods required the low-quality sources to be not that low, but more moderately high quality. We improved it dramatically." The technical details are described in the academics' paper "Explicit Two-Source Extractors and Resilient Functions."

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SourceForge Tightens Security With Malware Scans

Christine Hall at FOSS Force reports: It appears as if the new owners at SourceForge are serious about fixing the mistakes made by the sites previous owners. FOSS Force has just learned that as of today, the software repository used by many free and open source projects is scanning all hosted projects for malware. Projects that don't make the grade will be noticeably flagged with a red warning badge located beside the project's download button. According to a notice posted on the SourceForge website this afternoon, the scans look for "adware, viruses, and any unwanted applications that may be intentionally or inadvertently included in the software package." Account holders with projects flagged as containing malware will be notified by SourceForge. In today's announcement, SourceForge said that a thousand or so of the sites most popular projects [representing 84% of all SourceForge traffic] have so far been scanned, with scans continuing to eventually include "every last project, even dating back years." As the site hosts somewhere around 500,000 projects, this first scanning is expected to take several weeks. The company also says that beginning immediately, all new projects will be scanned during the uploading process. This latest move is in keeping with promises made to the community when the new owners, SourceForge Media, took control of SourceForge and Slashdot on January 28, 2016.

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It's Trivially Easy To Identify You Based On Records of Your Calls and Texts

Reader erier2003 shares an article on Daily Dot: Contrary to the claims of America's top spies, the details of your phone calls and text messages -- including when they took place and whom they involved -- are no less revealing than the actual contents of those communications. In a study published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Stanford University researchers demonstrated how they used publicly available sources -- like Google searches and the paid background-check service Intelius -- to identify "the overwhelming majority" of their 823 volunteers based only on their anonymized call and SMS metadata. The results cast doubt on claims by senior intelligence officials that telephone and Internet "metadata" -- information about communications, but not the content of those communications -- should be subjected to a lower privacy threshold because it is less sensitive. Contrary to those claims, the researchers wrote, "telephone metadata is densely interconnected, susceptible to reidentification, and enables highly sensitive inferences."IEEE has more details.

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Microsoft Releases Big 'Convenience Rollup' Update For Windows 7

Microsoft has released a "convenience rollup" update for Windows 7 computers. The update to the nearly seven-year-old operating system brings with it a number of security fixes and patches that Microsoft labels as "recommended." Mary Jo Foley, reporting for ZDNet: The convenience rollup -- officially known as Windows 7 SP1 convenience rollup -- isn't Service Pack 2 for Windows 7, but it's the next best thing. The new Windows 7 convenience rollup is cumulative back to Service Pack 1, which Microsoft released in 2011. (Editor's note, the convenience rollup consists of all security and non-security fixes all through April 2016.) It doesn't include updates to IE 11 (which are released separately) or updates to .NET releases. But it does include core Windows fixes, security fixes and hot fixes.Microsoft says that convenience rollup package is completely optional. "Install this one update, and then you only need new updates released after April 2016."

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IBM's Optical Storage Is 50 Times Faster Than Flash, And Also Cheaper

Flash storage is not as fast as the main memory (RAM); but RAM can't be used to store your regular files because of its volatile nature (and also because it's expensive). It appears we may soon have the perfect middle ground of the two. Scientists at IBM have demonstrated reliably storing 3 bits of data per cell using a relatively new memory technology known as phase-change memory (PCM). Engadget reports: To store PCM data on a Blu-ray disk, you apply a high current to amorphous (non-crystalline) glass materials, transforming them into a more conductive crystal form. To read it back, you apply a lower voltage to measure conductivity -- when it's high, the state is "1," and when it's low, it's "0." By heating up the materials, more states can be stored, but the problem is that the crystals can "drift" depending on the ambient temperature. IBM's team figured out how to track and encode those variations, allowing them to reliably read 3-bits of data per cell long after it was written. That suddenly makes PCM a lot more interesting -- its speed is currently much better than flash, but the costs are as high as RAM thanks to the low density.

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Gadget Claims To Fit In Your Ear and Translate Foreign Languages In Real-Time

An anonymous reader cites a report on the Telegraph about a tiny gadget that lets two people who speak a different language understand each other. The gadget dubbed Pilot translates English, French, Spanish and Italian. Pilot, which is yet to be launched, is priced at $129. From the report: It works by being connected to two different people, speaking two different languages, and translates what they are saying in your ear. Pilot is supposedly the first 'smart earpiece' capable of translating between two languages. Waverly Labs, who have developed the technology, said on their website: "This little wearable uses translation technology to allow two people to speak different languages but still clearly understand each other." They have not said how it works except for that it uses "translation technology" embedded in an app. We have reached out to them to find out more.

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Symantec Antivirus Products Vulnerable To Horrid Overflow Bug

An anonymous reader writes: Tavis Ormandy of Google's Project Zero team has discovered a vulnerability in Symantec Antivirus Engine. The said engine is vulnerable to a buffer overflow when parsing malformed portable-executable (PE) header files, reports ZDNet. "Such malformed PE files can be received through incoming email, downloading of a document or application, or by visiting a malicious web site," Symantec said. "No user interaction is required to trigger the parsing of the malformed file." For Linux, OS X, and other Unix-like systems, the exploit results in a remote heap overflow as root in the Symantec or Norton process, Ormandy said in the Project Zero issue tracker. "On Windows, this results in kernel memory corruption, as the scan engine is loaded into the kernel (wtf!!!), making this a remote ring0 memory corruption vulnerability -- this is about as bad as it can possibly get," he said.The vulnerability, if exploited, results in kernel memory corruption without user action and instant blue-screening on Windows.

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YouTube Is Guilty Of Criminal Racketeering, Grammy Winner Says

An anonymous reader cites a TorrentFreak report (edited and condensed): YouTube is guilty of criminal racketeering. That's the headline-grabbing claim of Grammy award winning musician Maria Schneider, who claims that the Google-owned site is abusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to siphon money away from musicians into its own pockets. Over the years, Google has transformed into the new bad guy and the pressure is mounting in a way never witnessed before. The U.S. Copyright Office's request for comments into the efficacy of the DMCA's safe harbor provisions has resulted in a wave of condemnation for both Google search and the company's YouTube platform, with everyone from the major record labels to the MPAA and back again attacking the technology giant. Grammy award-winning musician Maria Schneider really ups the ante by stating that YouTube is guilty of the same criminal acts that Megaupload is currently accused of. "YouTube is guilty of criminal racketeering," Schneider wrote in an open letter to the platform. "YouTube has thoroughly twisted, contorted, and abused the original meaning of the outdated DMCA 'safe harbor' to create a massive income redistribution scheme, where income is continually transferred from the pockets of musicians and creators of all types, and siphoned directly into their own pockets."Digital Music News has more information.

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Face Recognition App Taking Russia By Storm May Bring End To Public Anonymity

An anonymous reader writes: Anonymity in public could soon become a thing of the past. A service called FindFace allows users to photograph people in a crowd and work out their identities with 70% reliability. It works by comparing photographs to profile pictures on Vkontakte, a social network popular in Russia and the former Soviet Union, with more than 200 million accounts. In future, the designers imagine a world where people walking past you on the street could find your social network profile by sneaking a photograph of you, and shops, advertisers and the police could pick your face out of crowds and track you down via social networks. In the short time since the launch, FindFace has amassed 500,000 users and processed nearly 3m searches.The Newsweek wrote about this app last month. The publication reported on an abuse of the app in which porn stars and sex workers were targeted. Some wanted to use FindFace for the purpose of "outing" these sex workers to their families and social media contacts.

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Microsoft Needs To Fix Skype

It's no secret that Microsoft has long stopped caring about Skype for Linux. But the VoIP and instant messaging service isn't exactly working well on other platforms either. Microsoft reporter and critic Tom Warren lists a number of issues he continues to face on Skype. These issues include infrequent restarts, too many update prompts, and just having to deal with the unimpressive user interface that Skype throws at everyone's face. "I'm not sure what Microsoft has done to Skype, but it sucks now," he writes. Warren adds: Recently, friends and family have started experiencing some of the many issues I experience, including calls simply not connecting properly and every device in a home ringing non-stop even when a call is activated. Microsoft had promised to fix notifications blasting out to both your desktop machine and mobile, but I still frequently receive them in real-time on multiple devices. [...] I regularly have to restart the app just to make a call, or have my microphone detected correctly. This isn't a single device with driver issues, it's consistent across machines. I can't even scroll up and down on the contacts section of the Skype app with my trackpad, it just doesn't work. Those are bugs that should be easy to address, but Microsoft has also struggled to get the UI right with Skype.

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Hackers' Website Breached by Hacker

The Nulled, one of the most popular hacker forums with more than 470,000 members has suffered a data breach. As a result of which, email addresses and private messages of all these members have leaked. According to a report on BBC, the leaked data contained more than 5,000 purchase records relating to the exchange of stolen information. From the BBC report: Researchers at Risk Based Security said the data dump contained the "complete forum's database" including 12,600 invoices, usernames, members' PayPal addresses and IP addresses. It also contained millions of forum posts and private messages detailing illegal activities. And some of the data could be used to work out members' identities, if they did not take steps to conceal it. Risk Based Security added the website had used message board software with known vulnerabilities, and the site also used a weak hashing algorithm to protect members' passwords.

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Campaign Demands Telecoms Unlock the FM Radio Found in Many Smartphones

An anonymous reader cites an article on CBC: Your smartphone may include an FM radio chip but, chances are, it doesn't work. Now, an online campaign has launched in Canada, putting pressure on telecoms and manufacturers to turn on the radio hidden in many cellphones. Titled, "free radio on my phone," the campaign says that most Android smartphones have a built-in FM receiver which doesn't require data or Wi-Fi to operate. The U.S. arm of the campaign believes iPhones also have a built-in radio chip but that it can't be activated. Apple wouldn't confirm this detail. The radio chip in many Android phones also lies dormant. But the campaign says it can easily be activated -- if telecom providers ask the manufacturers to do it. In Canada, however, most of the telecoms haven't made the move to get the radio turned on. They'd prefer that you stream your audio, depleting your phone's costly data plan, claims campaign organizer, Barry Rooke.

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Apple, Microsoft and Other US Tech Companies Undergoing 'Security Reviews' in China

An anonymous reader writes: Chinese government is keeping an ever watchful eye on the companies doing business in the country, especially when foreign companies compete with local ones. To that end, the Chinese authorities have begun a security review among many different American technology companies like Apple and others. These, while mostly done out of the public sphere, seem to target issues like encryption and data storage. According to a report from the New York Times (paywalled; alternate source), government representatives have been questioning engineers and executives from different technology companies with regards to these issues for the last nine months. The so-called security reviews are being done by the Cyberspace Administration of China, with the government committee including experts tied to the country's military and security agencies.The Verge has more details.

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Warren Buffett Buys $1 Billion Stake In Apple

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate run by Buffett, disclosed in a regulatory filing Monday that it purchased more than 9.8 million shares in Apple during the first quarter. It marks Berkshire's first investment in Apple. Berkshire acquired its position at an average price of about $109 a share. Apple's stock price has since fallen to just above $90, meaning that Berkshire's stake in Apple is now worth about $888 million. The Apple purchase is the second big tech investment by Berkshire, which has been steadily adding to its stake in IBM during the past few years. Until recently, Buffett had been famous for his lack of investments in the tech sector. But Apple fits perfectly in Buffett's wheelhouse. The company is a leader in its market and the stock is extremely cheap, trading for just 11 times this year's earnings estimates. Apple also has a pristine balance sheet, with $232.9 billion in cash. At the end of April, billionaire investor Carl Icahn sold his entire stake in Apple, citing the risk of China's influence on the stock. Last week, Didi, China's ride-sharing service and rival to Uber, announced Apple invested $1 billion in the company. There's been a lot of money shuffling taking place as of late as Apple tries to reinvigorate the market after it had its first earnings decline in more than a decade.

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