An anonymous reader sends this quote from a Reuters report: "Software giant Microsoft is ready to introduce measures that would address the European Union's antitrust concerns about users' ability to chose between different browsers, European Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said on Saturday. EU antitrust regulators are investigating whether Microsoft blocks computer makers from installing rival web browsers on its upcoming Windows 8 operating system, following complaints from several companies. Almunia is in charge of antitrust enforcement at the European Commission. 'In my personal talks with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer he has given me assurances that they will comply immediately regardless of the conclusion of the anti trust probe,' Almunia said at an economic conference in northern Italy, adding that he considered the matter a 'very, very serious issue.'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "Uber is a company that creates apps to connect taxi and limo drivers with potential passengers. They've been rapidly expanding their service to cities across the country, but they're now getting pushback from New York City. This week the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission issued a public notice saying, 'A driver must not use any electronic communication device (PDF), including a cell phone or smartphone running a hail or payment app, while operating a taxicab.' The commission says its current contractual obligations forbid the use of such technology."
mpol writes "In the past, WhatsApp has been criticized over their insecure use of XMPP. Recently, new versions of their app have incorporated encryption. It seems the trouble isn't over yet for WhatsApp and its users. Sam Granger writes on his blog that WhatsApp is using IMEI numbers as passwords. This is at least the case with the Android app, but other platforms are probably using similar methods. Since someone's IMEI number is easily readable, this isn't really secret information that should be used for authentication."
New submitter InPursuitOfTruth writes with news that the Obama administration has been circulating a draft of an executive order focused on cybersecurity. This follows the recent collapse of an attempt at cybersecurity legislation in the Senate. According to people who have seen the draft, the order would codify standards and best practices for critical infrastructure. That said, it's questionable how effective it would be, since participation would be voluntary, and the standards would be set by "an inter-agency council that would be led by the Department of Homeland Security." The other agencies involved would include NIST, the DoD, and the Commerce Dept. "It would be left up to the companies to decide what steps they want to take to meet the standards, so the government would not dictate what type of technology or strategy they should adopt."
redletterdave writes "The Yangtze River, the third longest river in the world traditionally known as the 'golden watercourse,' mysteriously blushed for the first time on Sept. 6. Residents in the surrounding area near the city of Chongqing, where the Yangtze connects to the Jialin River, literally stopped in their tracks when they noticed their once golden river had turned a shocking shade of red. Residents have carefully crept down to the riverbanks for the past few days to save some of the red, tomato juice-like river water in bottles. Early predictions from scientists say the red water was likely a result of pollution, but investigators are still investigating the unknown cause."
An anonymous reader writes "Lost amid the announcements for Amazon's new tablets and e-readers was the news that their latest Kindle Fire tablets would include advertisements. So-called 'Special Offers' would place ads on the devices' lock screens in a similar fashion to the lowest price Kindle e-readers. However, on the e-readers, you had the option to 'buy out' the ads by simply paying the difference in price between the cheaper device and the regular version. But Amazon has no confirmed there is no way to opt out of the ads on the new Kindle Fire tablets." Update: 09/09 03:02 GMT by S : Reader Aoreias sends words that Amazon has now changed its mind. A spokesman announced that users will have the ability to opt-out for a fee of $15.
mhore writes "Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have created the first all optical, nanowire-based NAND gate, which paves the way towards photonic devices that manipulate light to perform computations. From the release: 'The research team began by precisely cutting a gap into a nanowire. They then pumped enough energy into the first nanowire segment that it began to emit laser light from its end and through the gap. Because the researchers started with a single nanowire, the two segment ends were perfectly matched, allowing the second segment to efficiently absorb and transmit the light down its length.' The gate works by shining light on the nanowire structure to turn on and off information transported through the wire. The research appeared this month in Nature Nanotechnology (abstract)."
Underholdning writes "It's been five years since Radiohead brought the pay what you want model to the public with their successful sale of their 'In Rainbows' album. Now, here's a fresh example of how a game developer is making The Pirate Bay work for him by offering his game, McPixel, for free and letting people pay what they want. Currently TPB has more than 5000 applicants wanting to do the same. 'Sosowski isn't worried that promoting a game on a site known for piracy might be more effective at attracting more pirates than actual paying customers. "The game was already available on TPB beforehand, and I believe if someone didn't want to pay, he just didn't ... It is up to people to decide how much they would like to pay for the game, and I have no worries. I am happy that more people can enjoy my game. ... TPB is one of the most visited sites in the Internet, and simply having a game there is a form of advertisement and promotion."'"
unixluv writes "Evidently, Wikipedia doesn't believe an author on his own motivations when trying to correct an article on his own book. A Wikipedia administrator claimed they need 'secondary sources.' I'm not sure where you would go to get a secondary source when you are the only author of a work. Thus, in a lengthy blog post for The New Yorker, Roth created his own secondary source. He wrote, 'My novel The Human Stain was described in the entry as "allegedly inspired by the life of the writer Anatole Broyard." ... This alleged allegation is in no way substantiated by fact. The Human Stain was inspired, rather, by an unhappy event in the life of my late friend Melvin Tumin, professor of sociology at Princeton for some thirty years.' The Wikipedia page has now been corrected."
An anonymous reader writes "Ars reports on a decision from a district judge in Illinois, who ruled that sniffing traffic on an unencrypted Wi-Fi network is not wiretapping. In the ruling, the judge points out an exception in the Wiretap Act which allows people to 'intercept or access an electronic communication made through an electronic communication system that is configured so that such electronic communication is readily accessible to the general public.' He concludes that 'the communications sent on an unencrypted Wi-Fi network are readily available to the general public.' Orin Kerr disagrees with the ruling, saying that the intent of the person setting up the network is important: 'No one suggests that unsecured wireless networks are set up with the goal that everyone on the network would be free to read the private communications of others.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Patrick Wyatt led production efforts for several of Blizzard Entertainment's early games, including Warcraft 1 & 2 and StarCraft. Wyatt has just published an in-depth look at the development of StarCraft, highlighting many of the problems the team encountered, and several of the hacks they came to later regret. Quoting: 'Given all the issues working against the team, you might think it was hard to identify a single large source of bugs, but based on my experiences the biggest problems in StarCraft related to the use of doubly-linked linked lists. Linked lists were used extensively in the engine to track units with shared behavior. With twice the number of units of its predecessor — StarCraft had a maximum of 1600, up from 800 in Warcraft 2 — it became essential to optimize the search for units of specific types by keeping them linked together in lists. ... All of these lists were doubly-linked to make it possible to add and remove elements from the list in constant time — O(1) — without the necessity to traverse the list looking for the element to remove — O(N). Unfortunately, each list was 'hand-maintained' — there were no shared functions to link and unlink elements from these lists; programmers just manually inlined the link and unlink behavior anywhere it was required. And hand-rolled code is far more error-prone than simply using a routine that's already been debugged. ... So the game would blow up all the time. All the time.'" Wyatt also has a couple interesting posts about the making of Warcraft 1.
mbone writes "A very interesting paper (PDF) has just hit the streets (or, at least, Physics Review Letters) about the Heisenberg uncertainty relationship as it was originally formulated about measurements. The researchers find that they can exceed the uncertainty limit in measurements (although the uncertainty limit in quantum states is still followed, so the foundations of quantum mechanics still appear to be sound.) This is really an attack on quantum entanglement (the correlations imposed between two related particles), and so may have immediate applications in cracking quantum cryptography systems. It may also be easier to read quantum communications without being detected than people originally thought."
hypnosec writes "A new patch for Apache by Roy Fielding, one of the authors of the Do Not Track (DNT) standard, is set to override the DNT option if the browser reaching the server is Internet Explorer 10. Microsoft has by default enabled DNT in Internet Explorer 10 stating that it is to 'better protect user privacy.' This hasn't gone down well with ad networks, users and other browser makers. According to Mozilla, the DNT feature shouldn't be either in an active state or an inactive state until and unless a user specifically sets it. Along the same lines is the stance adopted by Digital Advertising Alliance. The alliance has revealed that it will only honor DNT if and only if it is not switched on by default. This means advertisers will be ignoring the DNT altogether no matter how a particular browser is set up. The DNT project has another member – Apache. It turns out that Microsoft's stance is like a thorn to Apache as well. Fielding has written a patch for the web server titled 'Apache does not tolerate deliberate abuse of open standards.' The patch immediately sparked a debate, which instigated Fielding to elaborate on his work: 'The only reason DNT exists is to express a non-default option. That's all it does. [...] It does not protect anyone's privacy unless the recipients believe it was set by a real human being, with a real preference for privacy over personalization.'"
linjaaho writes "Senja Larsen, who runs popular Facebook study group Senja teaches you Swedish, collected $14,161 via Kickstarter's crowd funding service. The project caught much media attention in Finland (TV and all major newspapers), since it is the first crowdfunded book project in this country, and among the first Finnish crowdfunded projects. (Previous ones include the movie Iron Sky, the role-playing game Myrskyn Sankarit, and the Wishbone headphone wire manager). Now, after successfully collecting the funds for the book (and after the book has been edited and printed), the National Police Board of Finland has asked Senja to submit a statement [PDF; Finnish] concerning using crowdfunding to finance a project [PDF; Finnish] and the terminology used. It is possible that all the funding collected must be returned. The main problem is that direct translations of terminology at Kickstarter, such as 'bounty' and 'support,' are interpreted to mean collecting money without giving anything back, and this kind of operation requires a permit which can be only given to associations, not to private persons, and it takes long to apply for such permit."
First time accepted submitter mrhelio writes "I work for a medium-sized helicopter company; we mainly fly tourists around on sightseeing flights. My company needs help finding a hacker-friendly portable music player for our helicopters. We have a problem with our onboard music players — mostly because it is an obsolete terrible design. The manufacturer has made an updated model, but it's basically the same obsolete design with the same terrible software and user interface. We are worried about spending $1000 per unit on these because the manufacturer will eventually stop making replacement units and then we will be force to buy upgrades for our entire fleet again and get everything recertified. (Any piece of equipment hard mounted in a commercial aircraft has to be certified by the FAA and it takes a lot of paper work, time and money for that to happen.) So we have a new plan: get portable music players like iPods, and plug those into the aux input in the intercom system. We need something that has nine hours of battery life, can hold at least three hours of music, and has remote control options for start, stop, volume, and selecting tracks and playlists, and a display that is visible in bright and sunny as well as dark conditions. The remote control option is the toughest part to find. The pilots need to be able to control the music without taking their hands off the flight controls for safety reasons. There are buttons and toggle switches already designed into the flight controls for these kind of purposes and we have mechanics/ engineers that can wire it all together, but the music player has to support the remote interface in the first place. Our first choice would be to give each pilot an iPod, but Apple is notoriously anti-hacking and anti-open source, plus you have to pay them ridiculous licensing fees to get access to their USB interface. So we are looking for a manufacturer that is open source / hacker friendly and makes something that meets our needs. Do you know of anything that would work for us? Maybe something that runs Rockbox? Should we just break down and design something from scratch like the Butterfly MP3 player?"