Government

Think Tanks: How a Bill [Gates Agenda] Becomes a Law 22

Posted by Soulskill
from the daily-dose-of-cynicism dept.
theodp writes: The NY Times' Eric Lipton was just awarded a 2015 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting that shed light on how foreign powers buy influence at think tanks. So, it probably bears mentioning that Microsoft's 'two-pronged' National Talent Strategy (PDF) to increase K-12 CS education and the number of H-1B visas — which is on the verge of being codified into laws — was hatched at an influential Microsoft and Gates Foundation-backed think tank mentioned in Lipton's reporting, the Brookings Institution. In 2012, the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings hosted a forum on STEM education and immigration reforms, where fabricating a crisis was discussed as a strategy to succeed with Microsoft's agenda after earlier lobbying attempts by Bill Gates and Microsoft had failed. "So, Brad [Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith]," asked the Brookings Institution's Darrell West at the event, "you're the only [one] who mentioned this topic of making the problem bigger. So, we galvanize action by really producing a crisis, I take it?" "Yeah," Smith replied (video). And, with the help of nonprofit organizations like Code.org and FWD.us that were founded shortly thereafter, a national K-12 CS and tech immigration crisis was indeed created.
Censorship

Irish Legislator Proposes Law That Would Make Annoying People Online a Crime 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the turn-yourselves-in-at-the-local-pub dept.
An anonymous reader sends this report from TechDirt: Is Ireland looking to pass a law that would "outlaw ebooks and jail people for annoying others?" Well, no, not really, but that's the sort of unintended consequences that follow when laws are updated for the 21st century using little more than a word swap. Ireland has had long-standing laws against harassment via snail mail, telephones and (as of 2007) SMS messages. A 2014 report by the government's somewhat troublingly-named "Internet Content Governance Advisory Group" recommended updating this section of the law to cover email, social media and other internet-related transmissions. ... The broad language -- if read literally -- could make emailing an ebook to someone a criminal offense. Works of fiction are, by definition, false. ... It's the vestigial language from previous iterations of the law -- words meant to target scam artists and aggressive telemarketers -- that is problematic. Simply appending the words "electronic communications" to an old law doesn't address the perceived problem (cyberbullying is cited in the governance group's report). It just creates new problems.
Businesses

Comcast Officially Gives Up On TWC Merger 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the keeping-them-small-enough-to-govern dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Confirming speculation from yesterday, Comcast announced this morning that its attempt to merge with Time Warner Cable has been terminated. The announcement was very brief, but indicated that regulatory pressure was the reason they killed the deal. CEO Brian Roberts said, "Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn't agree, we could walk away." The Washington Post adds, "The move by regulators to throw up roadblocks shows that the government has grown concerned about massive media conglomerates bigfooting rivals that are finding success by streaming content over the Internet, analysts said. And after years of approving a wave of mergers in the industry — including that of Comcast and NBC Universal in 2011 — federal officials are taking a new tone, they said."
Intel

Intel 'Compute Stick' PC-Over-HDMI Dongle Launched, Tested 172

Posted by Soulskill
from the minimally-elegant-product-names dept.
MojoKid writes: Intel has officially announced the availability of their Compute Stick HDMI dongle, and has lifted the embargo on early tests with the device. The Compute Stick is essentially a fully-functional, low-power, Atom-based system with memory, storage, and an OS, crammed into a dongle about 10cm long. There will initially be two compute sticks made available: one running Windows (model STCK1A32WFC) and another running Ubuntu (model STCK1A8LFC). The Windows 8.1 version of the Compute Stick is packing an Intel Atom Z3735F processor, with a single-channel of 2GB of DDR3L-1333 RAM and 32GB of internal storage, though out of the box only 19.2GB is usable. The Ubuntu version of the Compute Stick has as a similar CPU, but is packing only 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. All sticks have USB and MicroSD expansion capability. It doesn't burn through any benchmarks, but for multi-media playback, basic computing tasks, web browsing, HD video, or remote access, the Compute Stick has enough muscle to get the job done, and it's cheap, too: $99 — $149.
Youtube

YouTube Going Dark On Older Devices 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the making-your-smart-TV-a-bit-dumber dept.
PC Mag reports on changes to the YouTube API, which have rendered YouTube apps inoperable on older consoles, smart TVs, and other video streaming devices. They're doing this because the old version of the API doesn't support some of YouTube's newer features. Newer devices might be able to upgrade — Apple handhelds that can run iOS 7 or later will have no problem, nor will 3rd-gen Apple TVs and devices running Google TV 3 or 4. But earlier Apple TVs and Google TVs running version 2 or earlier will be out of luck.
Television

Netflix Is Betting On Exclusive Programming 214

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-did-say-you-wanted-a-la-carte dept.
An anonymous reader writes: You may have heard of the recent launch of the new Daredevil TV show, and possibly the hit shows House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. They're all original programming from Netflix — the company that used to just mail DVDs to your door. But Netflix is now running a lot more than just those three shows — it has 320 hours of original programming planned for this year. This article discusses how Netflix is betting big on original, exclusive content, and what that means for the future of television. "Traditionally, television networks needed to stand for something to carve out an audience, he said, whereas the Internet allows brands to mean different things to different people because the service can be personalized for individual viewers. That means that for a conservative Christian family, Netflix should stand for wholesome entertainment, and, for a 20-year-old New York college student, it should be much more on the edge, he said.... 'We've had 80 years of linear TV, and it's been amazing, and in its day the fax machine was amazing,' he said. "The next 20 years will be this transformation from linear TV to Internet TV.'"
United Kingdom

Assange Talk Spurs UK Judges To Boycott Legal Conference 190

Posted by timothy
from the didn't-get-a-harrumph-outta-that-guy dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Commonwealth Law Conference in Glasgow was subjected to walk outs and boycott once it became known that Julian Assange was to appear by video link from the Ecuadorian embassy to give a talk at the conference. The Guardian reports that, "Judges from Scotland, England and Wales and the UK supreme court had agreed to speak at or chair other sessions but withdrew – in some cases after arriving at the conference centre– when they found out about Assange's appearance. Among those to boycott the conference were the most senior judge in Scotland, Lord Gill, and two judges on the supreme court, Lord Neuberger and Lord Hodge. A spokesperson for the Judicial Office for Scotland said: "The conference programme was changed to include Mr Assange's participation at short notice and without consultation. Mr Assange is, as a matter of law, currently a fugitive from justice, and it would therefore not be appropriate for judges to be addressed by him. "Under these circumstances, the lord president, Lord Gill, and the other Scottish judicial officeholders in attendance have withdrawn from the conference." A spokesman for the UK supreme court added: "Lord Neuberger and Lord Hodge share the concerns expressed by Lord Gill and his fellow senior Scottish judges ... "As a result of this unfortunate development, they trust that delegates will understand their decision to withdraw from the conference. ..." A spokesman for judiciary of England and Wales said: "The lord chief justice shares the concerns expressed by Lord Gill and Lord Neuberger ... He agreed with the position taken by both, and the judges of England and Wales also withdrew from the conference. ...""
Space

Rocket Lab Unveils "Electric" Rocket Engine 75

Posted by timothy
from the partially-electric-is-still-cool dept.
New submitter Adrian Harvey writes The New Zealand based commercial space company Rocket Lab has unveiled their new rocket engine which the media is describing as battery-powered. It still uses rocket fuel, of course, but has an entirely new propulsion cycle which uses electric motors to drive its turbopumps.

To add to the interest over the design, it uses 3D printing for all its primary components. First launch is expected this year, with commercial operations commencing in 2016.
GUI

KDE Plasma 5.3 Beta Brings Lot of Improvements 64

Posted by timothy
from the gui-not-gooey dept.
jones_supa writes: The KDE project today announced the release of KDE Plasma 5.3 beta. It brings better power management, improved Bluetooth support, improved widgets, Wayland support, new media center, and nearly 350 bugfixes. The power management improvements include settings that can be independently configured per activity, there is a new energy usage monitor available in KInfoCenter, and a battery applet identifies applications that hog power. Bluetooth applet brings added support for blocking and unblocking devices. New touchpad module has been added as well. The combined window manager and compositor KWin is now able to start a nested XWayland server, which acts as a bridge between the old X11 and the new Wayland world.
Wikipedia

How Many Hoaxes Are On Wikipedia? No One Knows 186

Posted by timothy
from the citation-not-sufficient dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Washington Post's Caitlin Dewey has written a lengthy feature covering one of Wikipedia's most intractable problems: carefully inserted hoax information that is almost impossible to detect. Dewey's investigation starts with the recent discovery of the nonexistent Australian god "Jar'Edo Wens" (which lasted almost ten years), and discusses a Wikipediocracy post about a recent experiment by critic Greg Kohs, in which 30 articles received cleverly-chosen minor falsehoods. More than half survived for more than two months. Included is also a chart showing that editing participation in Wikipedia has "atrophied" since 2007. It is quite rare to see a feature in a major media outlet as critical as this, of Wikipedia and its little-known internal problems. Especially on the heels of a very favorable CBS 60 Minutes report. As Kohs says, "I think this has proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it's not fair to say Wikipedia is 'self-correcting.'"
The Internet

India's Net Neutrality Campaign Picks Up Steam, Sites Withdraw From Internet.org 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the leaving-the-ship dept.
First time accepted submitter arvin (916235) writes The Huffington Post reports on prominent Indian websites withdrawing from Facebook's internet.org initiative. The net neutrality debate in the country has focused on zero-rating, where ISPs offer a free data plan which provides access to a set of websites that pay to be included. Internet.org provides free access to Facebook, Bing, Wikipedia and a few other websites. Another similar service, Airtel Zero, lost its flagship partner as e-commerce company Flipkart withdrew following a social media backlash.

Net neutrality activists believe that as these plans proliferate, access to the open internet will become extremely expensive or unavailable, innovation will slow as for startups are prevented from reaching the market, and the competitive consumer ISP market will be replaced with a cartel negotiating against internet companies. In a campaign similar to that in the US, over 630,000 Indians sent responses to their regulator through the website savetheinternet.in.
Movies

Jack Thompson Will Be Featured In BBC Film 'Grand Theft Auto' 118

Posted by Soulskill
from the enjoy-your-legacy-buddy dept.
New submitter requerdanos writes: Former attorney and professional troll Jack Thompson is set to become a major motion picture figure, played by Bill Paxton, in the upcoming film Grand Theft Auto. According to Cinema Blend, "Paxton is in line to play Jack Thompson. A Miami lawyer, Thompson came into the public eye by frequently blasting Grand Theft Auto, creator Rockstar Games, and video game violence in general. Before that, he was known for attacking media companies who promoted both hip hop and sex. In 2008, allegations of professional misconduct, including harassment, defamation, intimidation, and false statements led to Thompson being disbarred."
Data Storage

New Samsung SSD 840 EVO Read Performance Fix Coming Later This Month 72

Posted by Soulskill
from the slower-than-fastest-but-faster-than-slowest dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Samsung SSD 840 EVO read performance bug has been on the table for over six months now. Initially Samsung acknowledged the issue fairly quickly and provided a fix only a month after the news hit the mainstream tech media, but reports of read performance degradation surfaced again a few weeks after the fix had been released, making it clear that the first fix didn't solve the issue for all users. Two months ago Samsung announced that a new fix is in the works and last week Samsung sent out the new firmware along with Magician 4.6 for testing, which will be available to the public later this month.
The Military

US Navy Researchers Get Drones To Swarm On Target 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the teaching-skynet-how-to-kill-us dept.
coondoggie writes: The Office of Naval Research today said it had successfully demonstrated a system that lets small-unmanned aircraft swarm and act together over a particular target. The system, called Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology (LOCUST) features a tube-based launcher that can send multiple drones into the air in rapid succession. The systems then use information sharing between the drones, allowing autonomous collaborative behavior in either defensive or offensive missions, the Navy said.
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: Best Medium For Storing Data To Survive a Fire (or Other Disaster) 445

Posted by samzenpus
from the burning-down-the-house dept.
First time accepted submitter aka_bigred writes Every year as I file my taxes, I replicate my most important financial data (a couple GB of data) to store an offline copy in my fire-rated home safe. This gets me thinking about what the most reliable data media would be to keep in my fire-rated home safe.

CDs/DVDs/tapes could easily melt or warp rendering them useless, so I'm very hesitant to use them. I've seen more exotic solutions that let you print your digital data to paper an optically re-import it later should you ever need it, but it seems overly cumbersome and error prone should it be damaged or fire scorched. That leaves my best options being either a classic magnetic platter drive, or some sort of solid state storage, like SD cards, USB flash drives, or a small SSD. The problem is, I can't decide which would survive better if ever exposed to extreme temperatures, or water damage should my house burn down.

Most people would just suggest to store it in "the cloud", but I'm naturally averse to doing so because that means someone else is responsible for my data and I could lose it to hackers, the entity going out of business, etc. Once it leaves my home, I no longer fully control it, which is unacceptable. My thought being "they can't hack/steal what they can't physically access." What medium do other Slashdot users use to store their most important data (under say 5GB worth) in an at-home safe to protect it from fire?
Bitcoin

MIT May Help Lead Bitcoin Standards Effort 67

Posted by Soulskill
from the rename-it-MITcoin dept.
gthuang88 writes: With everyone from PayPal merchants to Rand Paul starting to accept Bitcoins as payment, the race is on to develop technical standards for the virtual currency. Now MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito is getting ready to unveil a plan for MIT to become an independent, neutral home for standards development. Ito is enlisting cryptographer Ron Rivest and economist Simon Johnson to help with the effort, which could provide an academic alternative to the Bitcoin Foundation for conversations about the currency's future. Ito says, "I’m not pushing it, but I’m offering MIT as a neutral academic home for some of the conversations and the technical coordination. Which I think will give a lot more stability to Bitcoin, which right now is a little bit fragile."
Electronic Frontier Foundation

After EFF Effort, Infamous "Podcasting Patent" Invalidated 58

Posted by timothy
from the there-should-an-absurdity-check dept.
Ars Technica reports some good news on the YRO front. An excerpt: A year-and-a-half after the Electronic Frontier Foundation created a crowd-funded challenge to a patent being used to threaten podcasters, the patent has been invalidated. In late 2013, after small podcasters started getting threat letters from Personal Audio LLC, the EFF filed what's called an "inter partes review," or IPR, which allows anyone to challenge a patent at the US Patent and Trademark Office. The order issued today by the USPTO lays to rest the idea that Personal Audio or its founder, Jim Logan, are owed any money by podcasters because of US Patent No. 8,112,504, which describes a "system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence." The article points out, though, that the EFF warns Personal Audio LLC is seeking more patents on podcasting. Mentioned within: Adam Carolla's fight against these patents and our Q&A with Jim Logan.
Businesses

Amazon Gets Approval To Test New Delivery Drones 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the probably-equipped-with-defense-lasers-and-defense-grenades dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Amazon has been vocal in its complaints about how slow the FAA is in approving drones for test flights. In March they were finally given permission to test a drone they had developed six months prior, and they said the drone was already obsolete. Their complaints appear to have worked — yesterday, the FAA gave permission to test a new, updated delivery drone. According to the FAA's letter (PDF), the drone must stay at an altitude of less than 400 feet and at speeds of less than 100 mph.
Encryption

'Let's Encrypt' Project Strives To Make Encryption Simple 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the reaching-for-peak-encryption dept.
jones_supa writes: As part of an effort to make encryption a standard component of every application, the Linux Foundation has launched the Let's Encrypt project (announcement) and stated its intention to provide access to a free certificate management service. Jim Zemlin, executive director for the Linux Foundation, says the goal for the project is nothing less than universal adoption of encryption to disrupt a multi-billion dollar hacker economy. While there may never be such a thing as perfect security, Zemlin says it's just too easy to steal data that is not encrypted. In its current form, encryption is difficult to implement and a lot of cost and overhead is associated with managing encryption keys. Zemlin claims the Let's Encrypt project will reduce the effort it takes to encrypt data in an application down to two simple commands. The project is being hosted by the Linux Foundation, but the actual project is being managed by the Internet Security Research Group. This work is sponsored by Akamai, Cisco, EFF, Mozilla, IdenTrust, and Automattic, which all are Linux Foundation patrons. Visit Let's Encrypt official website to get involved.