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Updated: 20 min 50 sec ago

Did Alcatraz Escapees Survive? Computer Program Says They Might Have

24 min 1 sec ago
In June of 1962, three prisoners escaped the penitentary on Alcatraz, in an elaborate plot that was dramatized in a Clint Eastwood movie. A question that has long puzzled the public is whether these men ever made it to shore; the many factors that made Alcatraz a secure prison include sharks, cold water, and contrary currents. Still, some artifacts from the attempt, and perhaps the appeal of stories about survival against high odds, have led many people to believe that the men actually landed safely and faded into society. coondoggie writes This week Dutch scientists from Delft University of Technology presented findings from a computer modeling program they were working on, unrelated to the mystery, that demonstrated the escapees could have survived the journey. "In hindsight, the best time to launch a boat from Alcatraz was [11:30 am], one and a half hours later than has generally been assumed. A rubber boat leaving Alcatraz at [11:30 am] would most likely have landed just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The model also shows that debris in that scenario would be likely to wash up at Angel Island, exactly where one of the paddles and some personal belongings were found.

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Hackers Compromise ICANN, Access Zone File Data System

29 min 1 sec ago
Trailrunner7 writes with this news from ThreatPost: Unknown hackers were able to compromise vital systems belonging to ICANN, the organization that manages the global top-level domain system, and had access to the system that manages the files with data on resolving specific domain names. The attack apparently took place in November and ICANN officials discovered it earlier this month. The intrusion started with a spear phishing campaign that targeted ICANN staffers and the email credentials of several staff members were compromised. The attackers then were able to gain access to the Centralized Zone Data System, the system that allows people to manage zone files. The zone files contain quite bit of valuable information, including domain names, the name server names associated with those domains and the IP addresses for the name servers. CANN officials said they are notifying any users whose zone data might have been compromised." (Here's ICANN's public note on the compromise.)

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Reaction To the Sony Hack Is 'Beyond the Realm of Stupid'

1 hour 11 min ago
rossgneumann writes North Korea may really be behind the Sony hack, but we're still acting like idiots. Peter W. Singer, one of the nations foremost experts on cybersecurity, says Sony's reaction has been abysmal. "Here, we need to distinguish between threat and capability—the ability to steal gossipy emails from a not-so-great protected computer network is not the same thing as being able to carry out physical, 9/11-style attacks in 18,000 locations simultaneously. I can't believe I'm saying this. I can't believe I have to say this."

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To Fight Currency Mismatches, Steam Adding Region Locking to PC Games

1 hour 34 min ago
will_die writes Because of recent currency devaluation Steam has now added region locking for games sold in Russia and CIS. Brazil and local area and Indonesia and local area are also being locked. If you purchase a game from one of those regions you cannot gift it to somone outside of the area. So someone from Russia can gift a game to someone to Georgia [Note: This Georgia, rather than this one, that is.] but not to someone in the USA. You want to see the prices in the Russia store and compare them to the Steam Christmas Sale which should be starting in a few hours.

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Who's To Blame For Rules That Block Tesla Sales In Most US States?

1 hour 53 min ago
cartechboy writes The common assumption among Tesla fans seems to be that state auto-dealer lobbyists are working with Republican legislators to enact laws banning direct sales of Tesla's electric cars to retail buyers. Is it true? The New York Times published an article with some data points that assesses the supposition. While the article mainly focuses on the conflict between Uber and the Republican party, some quotes could be easily applied to Tesla. For instance, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Preibus said, "It should be consumers, not government bureaucrats or legislators, that deicde what companies get our business." The author of the article, Josh Barro, wrote that 22 states permit direct sales of automobiles by Tesla to retail buyers, and of those the majority--14 of them-- voted for President Obama. He suggested that Democratic California, Illinois, and New York "have freer markets in auto retailing than Texas," which is presently Republican. When looking at a five-year-old article by Nate Silver that looked at political donations by car dealers, fully 88 percent of those donations went to Republican candidates, and just 12 percent to Democrats. That possibly suggests a propensity among Republican state legislators to support the interests for car dealers over those of electric-car buyers. Is the small bit of evidence enough to make a case? Good background on the current system of dealership sinecure can be found in this short 2009 Competition Advocacy Paper from the U.S. Department of Justice, which delves into the history and effects of the dealers-only system which still prevails.

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Councilmen Introduce Bills Strongly Regulating UAV Use in NYC

2 hours 34 min ago
SternisheFan passes on this excerpt from an Ars Technica article: On Wednesday Councilman Dan Garodnick introduced a bill to the New York City council seeking to ban all use of drones except those operated by police officers who obtain warrants. A second, parallel bill introduced by councilman Paul Vallone would place more stringent restrictions on drone use but stop short of banning drones for hobbyists and companies altogether. Both bills have been passed to the city's committee on public safety. An all-out ban on drones within the metropolis would be a quite wide-reaching step, especially as the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) seems poised to adopt more permissive rules, with respect to commercial interests in particular. Earlier this year, the FAA formally granted six Hollywood companies exemptions to drone ban rules. A couple of months later, the FAA granted similar exemptions for construction site monitoring and oil rig flare stack inspections. The article explains that Vallone's bill is less restrictive, and rather than propose an outright ban "lists 10 instances where operating a UAV would be illegal, including at night, out of the operator's eyesight, or above 400 ft high. Outside of those conditions, hobbyists and commercial interests would be free to fly drones."

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US Links North Korea To Sony Hacking

3 hours 16 min ago
schwit1 writes Speaking off the record, senior intelligence officials have told the New York Times, CNN, and other news agencies that North Korea was "centrally involved" in the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment. It is not known how the US government has determined that North Korea is the culprit, though it is known that the NSA has in the past penetrated North Korean computer systems. Previous analysis of the malware that brought down Sony Pictures' network showed that there were marked similarities to the tools used in last year's cyber-attack on South Korean media companies and the 2012 "Shamoon" attack on Saudi Aramco. While there was speculation that the "DarkSeoul" attack in South Korea was somehow connected to the North Korean regime, a firm link was never published.

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Startup Helps You Build Your Very Own Picosatellite On a Budget

5 hours 50 min ago
Zothecula writes A Glasgow-based startup is reducing the cost of access to space by offering "satellite kits" that make it easier for space enthusiasts, high schools and universities alike to build a small but functional satellite for as little as US$6,000 and then, thanks to its very small size, to launch for significantly less than the popular CubeSats.

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RFID-Blocking Blazer and Jeans Could Stop Wireless Identity Theft

8 hours 20 min ago
An anonymous reader writes A pair of trousers and blazer have been developed by San Francisco-based clothing company Betabrand and anti-virus group Norton that are able to prevent identity theft by blocking wireless signals. The READY Active Jeans and the Work-It Blazer contain RFID-blocking fabric within the pockets' lining designed to prevent hacking through radio frequency identification (RFID) signals emitted from e-passports and contactless payment card chips. According to the clothing brand, this form of hacking is an increasing threat, with "more than 10 million identities digitally pick pocketed every year [and] 70% of all credit cards vulnerable to such attacks by 2015."

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Terrestrial Gamma Ray Bursts Very Common

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 12:28am
Rambo Tribble writes It was long thought that gamma ray bursts were the exclusive province of deep space sources. More recently it was found that storms could produce such emissions, but such occurrences were thought rare. Now, data from NASA's Fermi satellite suggest such events happen over a thousand times a day. Per Prof. Joseph Dwyer, from the University of New Hampshire, "These are big, monster bursts of gamma rays, and one would think these must be monster storms producing them. But that's not the case. Even boring-looking, garden-variety, little storms can produce these."

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Over 9,000 PCs In Australia Infected By TorrentLocker Ransomware

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:04pm
First time accepted submitter River Tam writes Cybercriminals behind the TorrenLocker malware may have earned as much as $585,000 over several months from 39,000 PC infections worldwide, of which over 9,000 were from Australia. If you're a Windows user in Australia who's had their files encrypted by hackers after visiting a bogus Australia Post website, chances are you were infected by TorrentLocker and may have contributed to the tens of thousands of dollars likely to have come from Australia due to this digital shakedown racket.

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Over 9,000 PCs In Australia Infected By TorrentLocker Ransomware

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:04pm
First time accepted submitter River Tam writes Cybercriminals behind the TorrenLocker malware may have earned as much as $585,000 over several months from 39,000 PC infections worldwide, of which over 9,000 were from Australia. If you're a Windows user in Australia who's had their files encrypted by hackers after visiting a bogus Australia Post website, chances are you were infected by TorrentLocker and may have contributed to the tens of thousands of dollars likely to have come from Australia due to this digital shakedown racket.

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Google Proposes To Warn People About Non-SSL Web Sites

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 8:11pm
mrspoonsi writes The proposal was made by the Google developers working on the search firm's Chrome browser. The proposal to mark HTTP connections as non-secure was made in a message posted to the Chrome development website by Google engineers working on the firm's browser. If implemented, the developers wrote, the change would mean that a warning would pop-up when people visited a site that used only HTTP to notify them that such a connection "provides no data security". Currently only about 33% of websites use HTTPS, according to statistics gathered by the Trustworthy Internet Movement which monitors the way sites use more secure browsing technologies. In addition, since September Google has prioritised HTTPS sites in its search rankings.

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Startup Magic Leap Hires Sci-Fi Writer Neal Stephenson As Chief Futurist

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 7:36pm
First time accepted submitter giulioprisco writes Magic Leap, a secretive Florida augmented reality startup that raised $542 million in October, hired renowned science fiction writer Neal Stephenson as its "Chief Futurist." Stephenson offers hints at the company's technology and philosophy: "Magic Leap is bringing physics, biology, code, and design together to build a system that is going to blow doors open for people who create things." According to the Magic Leap website, their Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal technology permits generating images indistinguishable from real objects.

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Navy Develops a Shark Drone For Surveillance

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 6:51pm
An anonymous reader writes The Navy is testing a new underwater drone called GhostSwimmer, which is designed to a look like a shark and conduct surveillance work. It is being adapted by the chief of naval operations' Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC) project, Silent NEMO, in Norfolk, Va.. GhostSwimmer is 5 feet long and weighs almost 100 pounds. It can operate in water depths from 10 inches to 300 feet, and is designed to operate autonomously for long periods of time, according to the Navy.

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Google Strikes Deal With Verizon To Reduce Patent Troll Suits

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 6:05pm
mpicpp writes Google Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. struck a long-term patent cross-license agreement to reduce the risk of future patent lawsuits, the latest in a string of deals that signal a slowdown after years of aggressive patent wars. The deal effectively bars the companies from suing each other over any of the thousands of patents the companies currently own or acquire in the next five years. It also protects the companies if either sells a patent to another company, and that company attempts a lawsuit. "This cross license allows both companies to focus on delivering great products and services to consumers around the world," said Kirk Dailey, Google's head of patent transactions.

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Top Five Theaters Won't Show "The Interview" Sony Cancels Release

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 5:23pm
tobiasly writes The country's top five theater chains — Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas and Cineplex Entertainment — have decided not to play Sony's The Interview. This comes after the group which carried off a massive breach of its networks threatened to carry out "9/11-style attacks" on theaters that showed the film. Update: Sony has announced that it has cancelled the planned December 25 theatrical release.

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NASA Tests Feasibility of 3D Printing on the Moon and Other Planets

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 4:40pm
ErnieKey writes A major application of 3d printing that could revolutionize space travel would be using 3d printers to create structures on non-terrestrial bodies like the moon, other planets, and even asteroids. Researchers from NASA's Kennedy Space Center have been working to develop solutions to materials issues, and recently presented initial findings on the potential for using in-situ materials like basalt for 3D printing. Their innovative method is based on only using in-situ supplies, and not materials that need to be brought into space.

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Book Review: Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 3:58pm
MassDosage writes "At the the risk of exposing my age I remember building my first website using a rudimentary Unix text editor (Joe) and carefully handcrafting the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) while directly logged on to the web server it was being served from. Back then Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) weren't even a glint in the eyes of their creators. A lot has changed and there's now a world of fancy WYSIWYG web page editors to choose from as well as Content Management Systems that allow you to create websites without looking at the underlying code at all. While this is all very useful and allows less technical people to create websites I still feel that having at least some knowledge of how everything works under the hood is empowering — especially in situations where you want to go beyond the limits placed on you by a certain tool. This is where Build Your Own Website: A comic guide to HTML, CSS and Wordpress comes into the picture. Its aim is to enable people new to web development to learn the subject by teaching the fundamentals of HTML and CSS first and only then describing how to use a Content Management System (CMS) — in this case Wordpress. While Wordpress might not be everyone's kettle of fish it's a good choice as an example of a modern CMS that is easily accessible and very popular. The concepts presented are simple enough that it should be easy enough for a reader to apply them to a different CMS should they want to. Read below for The rest of MassDosage's review.

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Research Highlights How AI Sees and How It Knows What It's Looking At

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 3:16pm
anguyen8 writes Deep neural networks (DNNs) trained with Deep Learning have recently produced mind-blowing results in a variety of pattern-recognition tasks, most notably speech recognition, language translation, and recognizing objects in images, where they now perform at near-human levels. But do they see the same way we do? Nope. Researchers recently found that it is easy to produce images that are completely unrecognizable to humans, but that DNNs classify with near-certainty as everyday objects. For example, DNNs look at TV static and declare with 99.99% confidence it is a school bus. An evolutionary algorithm produced the synthetic images by generating pictures and selecting for those that a DNN believed to be an object (i.e. "survival of the school-bus-iest"). The resulting computer-generated images look like modern, abstract art. The pictures also help reveal what DNNs learn to care about when recognizing objects (e.g. a school bus is alternating yellow and black lines, but does not need to have a windshield or wheels), shedding light into the inner workings of these DNN black boxes.

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Categories: Geek News