Mars

NASA Is Building a Virtual Mars For VR Viewing (unrealengine.com) 36

An anonymous reader writes: NASA will release a free virtual reality program this year that will simulate exploring the surface of Mars. "Players will be able to walk on the Red Planet as well as drive the Mars Rover..." reads the official announcement at UnrealEngine.com. The Mars 2030 Experience will be available on Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, and Samsung Gear VR, and will also "expand" to Sony PlayStation VR and HTC Vive, with additional versions for Android and iOS devices, and it will even be streamed on Twitch. NASA plans to reveal more details at this year's South by Southwest conference in March.
Google

Google Targets Fake "Download" and "Play" Buttons (torrentfreak.com) 117

AmiMoJo writes: Google says it will go to war against the fake 'download' and 'play' buttons that attempt to deceive users on file-sharing and other popular sites. According to a new announcement from the company titled 'No More Deceptive Download Buttons', Google says it will expand its eight-year-old Safe Browsing initiative to target some of the problems highlighted above. 'You may have encountered social engineering in a deceptive download button, or an image ad that falsely claims your system is out of date. Today, we're expanding Safe Browsing protection to protect you from such deceptive embedded content, like social engineering ads,' the company says.
Technology

Ask Slashdot: How Can We Improve Slashdot? 1829

Hi all. Most of you are already aware that Slashdot was sold by DHI Group last week, and I very much enjoyed answering questions and reading feedback in the comments of that announcement story. There's no doubt that the Slashdot community is one of the most thoughtful, intelligent, and prolific communities on the web.

I wanted to use this opportunity to get a discussion going on how we can improve Slashdot moving forward. I am not talking about a full re-design that will detract from the original spirit of Slashdot, but rather: user experience, bug fixes, and feature improvements that are requested from actual /. users. We appreciated many of your suggestions in the story announcing the sale, and I have taken note of those suggestions. This story will serve as a more master list for feature requests and improvement suggestions.

We welcome any and all suggestions. Some ideas mentioned in the sale story were, in no particular order: Unicode support, direct messaging, increased cap on comment scores, put more weight on firehose voting to determine which stories make the front page, reduced time required between comments, and many more. We'd love a chance to discuss these suggestions and feature improvements and pros and cons here before we bring them back to our team for implementation.
Power

There's a Wind Turbine On the Horizon With Blades the Size of Trump Tower 179

merbs writes: Imagine a stretch of open ocean, populated by a swath of wind turbines with skyscraper-sized blades, whipping into the gusts like enormous palm trees. The vision is partly terrifying, partly inspiring, and being taken entirely seriously by the federal government and one of our top research laboratories. [Sandia National Labs, in an effort led by the University of Virginia] has unveiled the preliminary design for a new offshore wind turbine with 650-foot turbine blades. That, as its announcement points out, is twice the size of an American football field. It's also roughly the size of Trump Tower in New York.
Wikipedia

Arnnon Geshuri, Newest Wikimedia Trustee, Forced To Resign 104

New submitter Mdann52 writes: Following an earlier vote of no confidence, it was announced that the recent appointee, Arnnon Geshuri, had stepped down from the board. This was following community criticism into his background. Says the announcement: The Board Governance Committee is working to improve and update our selection processes before we fill the vacancy left by Arnnonâ(TM)s departure. We are sorry for the distress and confusion this has caused to some in our community, and also to Arnnon.
Businesses

Slashdot and SourceForge Sold, Now Under New Management (bizx.info) 1305

kodiaktau writes with a link to today's announcement that DHI Group, Inc. (which you might know better as Dice, the company that bought Slashdot and sister site SourceForge in 2012) today announced that it completed the sale of its Slashdot and SourceForge businesses (together referred to as 'Slashdot Media') to BIZX, LLC in a transaction that closed on January 27, 2016. Financial terms were not disclosed. DHI first announced its plan to sell Slashdot Media in July 2015 as part of its strategy to focus on its core brands, as Slashdot Media no longer fits within the Company's core strategic initiatives. KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc. served as the Company's exclusive financial advisor for the transaction. (FOSS Force has a short article with some more info BIZX and the sale.)
Businesses

Apple To Launch First European Development Center (thestack.com) 43

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has announced plans to launch its first iOS app development center in Europe. The location will be in Naples, Italy, with the center aiming to teach youngsters how to code. The announcement was made 21 January and explained how the center would provide students (children and young adults) the practical skills and training required for developing iOS apps for "the world's most innovative and vibrant app ecosystem". The center will support teachers and provide a specialized curriculum that will prepare the youths to be a part of Apple's developer community.
Businesses

Whatsapp Will Become Free, Companies Can Pay To Reach Users (nytimes.com) 92

speedplane writes: The popular messaging service Whatsapp will soon become free (they previously charged $0.99 per year after the first). The troubling news is that to compensate for the lost revenue, companies will now be able to pay to contact users directly. "[Whatsapp founder] Mr. Koum said that his team was still experimenting with how such services could work, and that many companies were already using the messaging service, particularly in developing countries, to connect with mobile-savvy customers." If this smells like advertising, Whatsapp vehemently disagrees. A portion of their statement reads: "...people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today's announcement means we're introducing third-party ads. The answer is no."
Programming

Microsoft Announces R Tools For Visual Studio (technet.com) 105

theodp writes: A year after its acquisition of Revolution Analytics, Microsoft announced a slew of R-related product offerings, and noted that Revolution R Open is giving up her maiden name and will henceforth be known as Microsoft R Open. Tucked away in the announcement was the news that R is coming to Visual Studio. Microsoft has released a teaser video for R Tools for Visual Studio (RTVS) and is taking sign-ups for early access.
Bitcoin

Cryptsy Bitcoin Trader Robbed, Blames Backdoor In the Code of a Wallet (softpedia.com) 90

An anonymous reader writes: Cryptsy, a website for trading Bitcoin, Litecoin, and other smaller crypto-currencies, announced a security incident, accusing the developer of Lucky7Coin of stealing 13,000 Bitcoin and 300,000 Litecoin, which at today's rate stands more than $5.7 million / €5.2 million. Cryptsy says "the developer of Lucky7Coin had placed an IRC backdoor into the code of [a] wallet, which allowed it to act as a sort of a Trojan, or command and control unit." Coincidentally this also explains why two days after the attack was carried out, exactly 300,000 Litecoin were dumped on the BTC-e exchange, driving Litecoin price down from $9.5 to $2.
Businesses

Netflix Decides To Crack Down On VPN Users (netflix.com) 249

An anonymous reader writes: Netflix have announced they'll be taking further steps to ensure users are not circumventing geo-restrictions. David Fullagar, Vice President of Content Delivery and Architecture at Netflix says "Some members use proxies or "unblockers" to access titles available outside their territory. To address this, we employ the same or similar measures other firms do. This technology continues to evolve and we are evolving with it. That means in coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are. This announcement comes just days after Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt said that a VPN blocking policy might be impossible to enforce."
Privacy

IRS: Identity Theft Protection a Tax Deductible Benefit - Even Without a Breach (wordpress.com) 51

chicksdaddy writes: The U.S. Internal Revenue Service has announced that it will treat identity theft protection as a non-taxable, non-reportable benefit that companies can offer — even when the company in question hasn't experienced a data breach, and regardless of whether it is offered by an employer to employees, or by other businesses (such as online retailers) to its customers, the blog E for ERISA reports. In short: companies can now deduct the cost of offering identity theft protection as a benefit for employees or extending it to customers, even if their data hasn't been exposed to hackers.

The announcement comes only four months after an earlier announcement by the IRS that it would treat identity theft protection offered to employees or customers in the wake of a data breach as a non-taxable event. Comments to the IRS following the earlier decision suggested that many businesses view a data breach as "inevitable" rather than as a remote risk.

The truth of that statement was made clear to the IRS itself, which had to provide identity theft protection earlier this year in response to a hack of its online database of past-filed returns and other filed documents which ultimately affected over 300,000 taxpayers. The new IRS guidance could be a boon to providers of identity protection services such as Experian and Lifelock, though maybe not as much as one would expect. Data from Experian suggests that consumer adoption rates for identity theft protection services is low. Fewer than 10% of those potentially affected by a breach opt for free identity protection services when they are offered. For very large breaches that number is even lower — in the single digit percentages.

Education

K12CS.org: Microsoft, Google, Apple Identifying What 1st Graders Should Know 145

theodp writes: On Sunday, The Simpsons declared computer coding class the nation's latest educational fad (script). Proving Principal Skinner's point, K12CS.org on Thursday announced a New Framework to Define K-12 Computer Science Education, the collaboration of participants from a number of states (MD, CA, IN, IA, AR, UT, ID, NE, GA, WA), large school districts (NYC, Chicago, San Francisco), technology companies (Microsoft, Google, Apple), organizations (Code.org, ACM, CSTA, ISTE, MassCAN, CSNYC), and individuals (higher ed faculty, researchers, K-12 teachers, and administrators). "A steering committee initially comprised of the Computer Science Teachers Association, the Association for Computing Machinery, and [tech bankrolled and led] Code.org will oversee this project," explained a CSTA blog post. "Funding for the project will be provided by Code.org and the ACM. The framework will identify key K-12 computer science concepts and practices we expect students exiting grades 2, 5, 8, and 12 to know."

In a FAQ, K12CS.org envisions a Programming and Algorithms standard for 1st Graders that calls for the 5-year-olds to "Work collaboratively in clear roles (e.g., pair programming) to construct a problem solution of a sequence of block-based programming commands." A day before the announcement, Politico reported that K-12 CS education is expected to get a State of the Union mention this year, and that the White House and U.S. Dept. of Education have been trolling for CS success stories in conjunction with the announcement of a broad set of new commitments to CS Education in early 2016.
Cellphones

Lenovo To Build Google's First Project Tango Phone (pcworld.com) 48

Press2ToContinue writes: Google and Lenovo announced plans Thursday night in Las Vegas for the first Project Tango phone to be released this summer for less than $500. Project Tango is Google's vision to bring augmented reality to phones by enabling devices to be able to sense where they are and what is around them. During the announcement, Google's Johnny Lee demonstrated measuring a room using a prototype Project Tango tablet and then shopping at Lowes for furniture that would fit it. Google also announced an app incubator for Project Tango, which they hope will encourage developers to start building apps that make use of the AR technology.
The Military

North Korea Claims It Detonated Its First Hydrogen Bomb (nytimes.com) 412

HughPickens.com writes: North Korea announced it has detonated its first hydrogen bomb, dramatically escalating the nuclear challenge from one of the world's most isolated and dangerous states. "This is the self-defensive measure we have to take to defend our right to live in the face of the nuclear threats and blackmail by the United States and to guarantee the security of the Korean Peninsula," said a North Korean announcer on the state-run network. "With this hydrogen bomb test, we have joined the major nuclear powers." The North's announcement came about an hour after detection devices around the world had picked up a 5.1 seismic event that South Korea said was 30 miles from the Punggye-ri site where the North has conducted nuclear tests in the past.

"North Korea's fourth test — in the context of repeated statements by U.S., Chinese, and South Korean leaders — throws down the gauntlet to the international community to go beyond paper resolutions and find a way to impose real costs on North Korea for pursuing this course of action," says Scott Snyder, a Korea expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. According to the NY Times, the test is bound to figure in the American presidential campaign, where several candidates have already cited the North's nuclear experimentation as evidence of American weakness — though they have not prescribed alternative strategies for choking off the program. The United States did not develop its first thermonuclear weapons — commonly known as hydrogen bombs — until 1952, seven years after the first and only use of nuclear weapons in wartime.

Cloud

Linode Resets Passwords After Credentials Leak (linode.com) 55

New submitter qmrq sends news that Linode, a major provider of virtual private servers, has been compromised again. In a blog post, they said, "A security investigation into the unauthorized login of three accounts has led us to the discovery of two Linode.com user credentials on an external machine. This implies user credentials could have been read from our database, either offline or on, at some point. The user table contains usernames, email addresses, securely hashed passwords and encrypted two-factor seeds." The Linode team said it found evidence of unauthorized access to three customer accounts. They don't yet know who is behind the attacks.

An employee for PagerDuty said they were compromised through Linode Manager all the way back in July. "In our situation the attacker knew one of our user's passwords and MFA secret. This allowed them to provide valid authentication credentials for an account in the Linode Manager. It's worth noting that all of our active user accounts had two-factor authentication enabled. ... We also have evidence from access logs provided by Linode that the attackers tried to authenticate as an ex-employee, whose username ONLY existed in the Linode database."
Medicine

Brazil Cautions Women To Avoid Pregnancy Over Zika Virus Outbreak (discovermagazine.com) 102

iONiUM writes: According to an article at Discover, "Authorities in Brazil have recently issued an unusual and unprecedented announcement to women: don't get pregnant, at least not just yet. Amidst an intractable outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, public health authorities in Brazil are highly suspicious of an unusual surge of cases of microcephaly among newborn children." There were over 3,000 cases in 2015.

It's believed this virus is linked to shrinking newborns brain, and it is spreading. "Zika virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, and it was first detected in Uganda in the 1940s. After spreading through Africa and parts of Asia, it has made its way to Latin America. There is no known vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat the disease caused by the virus. Since May 2015, the Brazilian government estimates that some 1.5 million people have been infected with the virus." The CDC has published an article about it, and travel warnings are now being issued for pregnant women.

Businesses

Oculus To Ship "Lucky's Tale" Game With Rift (oculus.com) 39

An anonymous reader writes: Oculus has announced that a second game, Lucky's Tale, will come bundled with their virtual reality headset. The system will also come with another free virtual reality game: EVE: Valkyrie from CCP Games. An announcement reads: "Today, we're excited to announce that Lucky's Tale, the incredible made-for-VR platformer by Playful, will be included free with every Oculus Rift! Lucky's Tale, an Oculus Studios title, takes you on an adventure of a lifetime with Lucky, the fun-loving fox. The game takes you to a charming new world, with dozens of locales and lush environments."
United Kingdom

Tech Companies Face Criminal Charges If They Notify Users of UK Government Spying (techspot.com) 152

An anonymous reader writes: Last week, Yahoo became the latest company promising to alert users who it suspected were being targeted by state-sponsored attacks (excepting Microsoft, who made a similar announcement just today). Twitter, Facebook and Google had previously assured their users that they would be warned of any potential government spying. The UK, it seems, isn't happy about this. They are pushing through a bill that will punish the leaders of any company that warns its users about British snooping with up to two years in prison. Specifically, UK ministers want to make it a criminal offense for tech firms to warn users of requests for access to their communication data made by security organizations such as MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.
Twitter

Twitter Bans 'Hateful Conduct' (reuters.com) 492

An anonymous reader writes: Twitter has updated their site rules to prohibit "behavior intended to harass, intimidate, or use fear to silence another user's voice." According to the new rules, "You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease." This follows criticism that Twitter (and other social networks) haven't done enough to prevent the ramblings of the Islamic State and other terrorist groups. "Tuesday's announcement did not disclose changes to Twitter's enforcement strategy. A company spokesman declined to say if any were in the works. The new rules also said that Twitter might respond to reports that somebody is considering 'self-harm' by contacting the person to express concern and provide contact information to mental health practitioners."

Slashdot Top Deals