posted about 6 hours ago on slashdot
wabrandsma writes about Google's new system for ranking the truthfulness of a webpage. "Google's search engine currently uses the number of incoming links to a web page as a proxy for quality, determining where it appears in search results. So pages that many other sites link to are ranked higher. This system has brought us the search engine as we know it today, but the downside is that websites full of misinformation can rise up the rankings, if enough people link to them. Google research team is adapting that model to measure the trustworthiness of a page, rather than its reputation across the web. Instead of counting incoming links, the system – which is not yet live – counts the number of incorrect facts within a page. 'A source that has few false facts is considered to be trustworthy,' says the team. The score they compute for each page is its Knowledge-Based Trust score. The software works by tapping into the Knowledge Vault, the vast store of facts that Google has pulled off the internet. Facts the web unanimously agrees on are considered a reasonable proxy for truth. Web pages that contain contradictory information are bumped down the rankings."

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posted about 8 hours ago on slashdot
schwit1 writes A 20-year-old U.S. military weather satellite apparently exploded for no obvious reason. The incident has put several dozen pieces of space junk into orbit. From the article: "A 20-year-old military weather satellite apparently exploded in orbit Feb. 3 following what the U.S. Air Force described as a sudden temperature spike. The “catastrophic event” produced 43 pieces of space debris, according to Air Force Space Command, which disclosed the loss of the satellite Feb. 27 in response to questions from SpaceNews. The satellite, Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 13, was the oldest continuously operational satellite in the DMSP weather constellation."

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posted about 9 hours ago on slashdot
First time accepted submitter irl_4795 (4020741) writes At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona NXP Semiconductors will demonstrate Near Field Magnetic Induction technology in a truly wireless earbud including wireless audio streaming from ear to ear. From the article: "The wireless technology being used to enable truly wireless earbuds is based on Near Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI). NFMI features important properties such as ultra-low power consumption and the ability to create a very reliable network in and around the human body, with both high-quality audio and data streaming supported over small distances. An additional integration advantage is also that it requires few external components. NFMI is a short range technology and as such also creates a private network, making it is much less susceptible to interference than 2.4 GHz transceivers.

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posted about 10 hours ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes news about a three-day cable job completed outside the International Space Station. "Spacewalking astronauts successfully completed a three-day cable job outside the International Space Station on Sunday, routing several-hundred feet of power and data lines for new crew capsules commissioned by NASA. It was the third spacewalk in just over a week for Americans Terry Virts and Butch Wilmore, and the quickest succession of spacewalks since NASA's former shuttle days. The advance work was needed for the manned spacecraft under development by Boeing and SpaceX. A pair of docking ports will fly up later this year, followed by the capsules themselves, with astronauts aboard, in 2017."

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posted about 12 hours ago on slashdot
msm1267 (2804139) writes Pharming attacks are generally network-based intrusions where the ultimate goal is to redirect a victim's web traffic to a hacker-controlled webserver, usually through a malicious modification of DNS settings. Some of these attacks, however, are starting to move to the web and have their beginnings with a spam or phishing email. Proofpoint reported on the latest iteration of this attack, based in Brazil. The campaign was carried out during a five-week period starting in December when Proofpoint spotted phishing messages, fewer than 100, sent to customers of one of the country's largest telecommunications companies.

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posted about 13 hours ago on slashdot
jones_supa writes A study of Finnish men suggests that frequent sauna baths may help you live longer. Previous research has suggested that saunas might improve blood vessel function and exercise capacity, or even lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension. The new study links long, hot sauna baths with more benefits, including fewer deaths from heart attacks, strokes, various heart-related conditions and other causes. The study tracked 2315 Finnish men for nearly 20 years on average. Most participants used saunas at least once weekly. Those who used them four to seven times weekly received the greatest benefits. The study published in JAMA Internal Medicine wraps up by saying that further studies are warranted to establish the potential mechanism that links sauna bathing and the aforementioned cardiovascular benefits.

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posted about 15 hours ago on slashdot
retroworks writes "Washington Post reporter Caitlin Dewey leads with, "Revenge-porn impresario Craig Brittain is learning the hard way that karma is a real witch." The report states that the Federal Trade Commission has settled a complaint against Brittain, whose defunct site, "Is Anybody Down" was accused of unfair business practices. From the article: "The site paid its bills by soliciting women's nude photos on Craigslist and/or from their exes, publishing the photos without the women's permission (and often with their names and phone numbers attached), and then charging fees of $200 to $500 to take the photos down." Brittain agreed to destroy the image and never operate a revenge porn site again. However, On Feb. 9, "Brittain filed a takedown request to Google, demanding that the search engine stop linking to nearly two dozen URLs — including a number of news articles, and files on the case from the FTC — because they used photos of him and information about him without his permission." Ars Technica explains. "In this instance, fair use and general First Amendment principles are on Google's and the media's side."

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posted about 16 hours ago on slashdot
motang writes: After two years of hard work (and much to the dismay of naysayers who worried the project has been abandoned), the Xfce team has announced the release of Xfce 4.12. Highlights include improvements to the window switcher dialog, intelligent hiding of the panel, new wallpaper settings, better multi-monitor support, improved power settings, additions to the file manager, and a revamped task manager. Here is a quick tour, the full changelog, and the download page. I have been running it since Xubuntu 15.04 beta 1 was released two days ago. It is much improved over 4.10, and the new additions are great."

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posted about 18 hours ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: In light of recent revelations from Kaspersky Labs about the Equation Group and persistent hard drive malware, I was curious about how easy it might be to verify my own system's drives to see if they were infected. I have no real reason to think they would be, but I was dismayed by the total lack of tools to independently verify such a thing. For instance, Seagate's firmware download pages provide files with no external hash, something Linux distributions do for all of their packages. Neither do they seem to provide a utility to read off the current firmware from a drive and verify its integrity. Are there any utilities to do such a thing? Why don't these companies provide verification software to users? Has anyone compiled and posted a public list of known-good firmware hashes for the major hard drive vendors and models? This seems to be a critical hole in PC security. I did contact Seagate support asking for hashes of their latest firmware; I got a response stating, "...If you download the firmware directly from our website there is no risk on the file be tampered with." (Their phrasing, not mine.) Methinks somebody hasn't been keeping up with world events lately.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
jfruh writes: Foxconn, which supplies much of Apple's manufacturing muscle and has been criticized for various labor sins, is now moving to hire employees who won't complain because they're robots. The company expects 70 percent of its assembly line work to be robot-driven within three years.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
New submitter SwampApe tips news that Uber has revealed a database breach from 2014. The company says the database contained names and diver's license numbers of their drivers, about 50,000 of which were accessed by an unauthorized third party. As part of their investigation into who was behind the breach, Uber has filed a lawsuit which includes a subpoena request for GitHub. "Uber's security team knows the public IP address used by the database invader, and wants to link that number against the IP addresses and usernames of anyone who looked at the GitHub-hosted gist in question – ID 9556255 – which we note today no longer exists. It's possible the gist contained a leaked login key, or internal source code that contained a key that should not have been made public."

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
SpzToid writes: Following up on an earlier Slashdot story, the Oracle Corporation has filed a rather timely suit against five of former governor John Kitzhaber's staff for their "improper influence" in the decision to shutter the Cover Oregon healthcare website, while blaming Oracle to defuse the political consequences. Oracle argues the website was ready to go before the state decided to switch to the federal exchange in April. "The work on the exchange was complete by February 2014, but going live with the website and providing a means for all Oregonians to sign up for health insurance coverage didn't match the former-Governor's re-election strategy to 'go after' Oracle," Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger said in a statement. Kitzhaber resigned last week amid criminal probes into an influence-peddling scandal involving allegations that his fiancée used her position in his office for personal gain.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
New submitter seoras sends news that PayPal is now refusing to handle payments for Mega, Kim Dotcom's cloud storage service. A report (PDF) issued in September of last year claimed Mega and other "cyberlocker" sites made a great deal of illicit money off piracy. Mega disputes this, of course, and says the report caused U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy to pressure credit card companies to stop working with Mega. Those companies then pressured PayPal to stop as well. The hosting company claims, "MEGA provided extensive statistics and other evidence showing that MEGA’s business is legitimate and legally compliant. After discussions that appeared to satisfy PayPal’s queries, MEGA authorised PayPal to share that material with Visa and MasterCard. Eventually PayPal made a non-negotiable decision to immediately terminate services to MEGA."

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
sarahnaomi writes: Most of us grew up believing that tiny, distant Pluto was the outermost planet in our solar system. Then, one day, the scientific powers that be decreed that it wasn't. But it seems the matter is far from settled. David Weintraub—who describes Pluto's exile as a stunt organized by a "very small clique of Pluto-haters"—would have the dwarf world rejoin the ranks of our Solar System's fully-fledged planets today. But solid evidence that Pluto deserves the title may come in July, when NASA's New Horizons spacecraft slingshots around the icy rock and sends us back a detailed picture of its composition. Pluto's planethood was revoked by majority vote on the final day of the 2006 IAU conference. Over 2,500 astronomers attended the meeting throughout the week, but only 394 votes ultimately decided Pluto's fate: 237 in favor of demoting the planet and 157 against.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Some Blu-Ray disc interactive features use a Java variant for UIs and applications. Stephen Tomkinson just posted a blog discussing how specially created Blu-Ray discs can be used to hack various players using exploits related to their Java usage. He hacked one Linux-based, network-connected player to get root access through vulnerabilities introduced by the vendor. He did the same thing against Windows Blu-Ray player software. Tomkinson was then able to combine both, along with detection techniques, into a single disc.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
New submitter Sardaukar86 sends this excerpt from a Washington Post report: In the middle of last summer came news of a bizarre occurrence no one could explain. Seemingly out of nowhere, a massive crater appeared in one of the planet's most inhospitable lands. Early estimates said the crater, nestled in a land called "the ends of the Earth" where temperatures can sink far below zero, yawned nearly 100 feet in diameter. The saga deepened. The Siberian crater wasn't alone. There were two more, ratcheting up the tension in a drama that hit its climax as a probable explanation surfaced. Global warming had thawed the permafrost, which had caused methane trapped inside the icy ground to explode. Now, however, researchers fear there are more craters than anyone knew — and the repercussions could be huge. Russian scientists have now spotted a total of seven craters, five of which are in the Yamal Peninsula. Two of those holes have since turned into lakes. And one giant crater is rimmed by a ring of at least 20 mini-craters, the Siberian Times reported.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
DoofusOfDeath writes I work on a fully distributed software development team with 5-10 people. Normally it's great, but when we're doing heavy design work, we really need to all be standing in front of a whiteboard together. This is expensive and time consuming, because it involves airplanes and hotels. Conference calls, editing shared Google docs, etc. just don't seem to be the same. Have people found any good tools or practices to replace standing in front of a real whiteboard?

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
bobo the hobo writes: In the corner of the internet where people care about DNS, there is a bit of an uproar at Google's application for over a hundred new top-level domains, including .dev, .lol, .app, .blog, .cloud and .search. Their application includes statements such as: "By contrast, our application for the .blog TLD describes a new way of automatically linking new second level domains to blogs on our Blogger platform – this approach eliminates the need for any technical configuration on the part of the user and thus makes the domain name more user friendly." They also mention limiting usage of .dev to Google only: "Second-level domain names within the proposed gTLD are intended for registration and use by Google only, and domain names under the new gTLD will not be available to the general public for purchase, sale, or registration. As such, [Google's shell company] intends to apply for an exemption to the ICANN Registry Operator Code of Conduct as Google is intended to be the sole registrar and registrant."

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
Randym writes: With the simultaneous announcement of a possible nitrogen-based, cell-like structure allowing life outside the "liquid water zone" (but within a methane atmosphere) announced by researchers at Cornell (academic paper) and the mystery of fluctuating methane levels on Mars raising the possibility of methane-respiring life, there now exists the possibility of a whole new branch of the tree of life that does not rely on either carbon or oxygen for respiration. We may find evidence of such life here on Earth down in the mantle where "traditional" life cannot survive, but where bacteria has evolved to live off hydrocarbons like methane and benzene.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
schwit1 sends this report from the National Journal: A federal court has again renewed an order allowing the National Security Agency to continue its bulk collection of Americans' phone records, a decision that comes more than a year after President Obama pledged to end the controversial program. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved this week a government request to keep the NSA's mass surveillance of U.S. phone metadata operating until June 1, coinciding with when the legal authority for the program is set to expire in Congress. The extension is the fifth of its kind since Obama said he would effectively end the Snowden-exposed program as it currently exists during a major policy speech in January 2014. Obama and senior administration officials have repeatedly insisted that they will not act alone to end the program without Congress.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
neanderslob writes: In 2013, Elon Musk told us about a theoretical transportation system he'd been thinking about for a while. It was called "hyperloop," and it was a tube-based system capable of sending people and things at speeds of up to 800mph. Now, a company called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies plans to start construction on an actual hyperloop next year. The idea is to build it to serve Quay Valley (a proposed 75,000-resident solar power city in Kings County, California). The project will be paid for with $100 million the company expects to raise through a direct public offering in the third quarter of this year. The track itself will be a 5-mile loop and won't reach anywhere close to the 800mph Musk proposed in his white paper — but it's a start.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes Color scientists already have a word for it: Dressgate. Now the Washington Post reports that a puzzling thing happened on Thursday night consuming millions — perhaps tens of millions — across the planet and trending on Twitter ahead of even Jihadi John's identification. The problem was this: Roughly three-fourths of people swore that this dress was white and gold, according to BuzzFeed polling but everyone else said it's dress was blue. Others said the dress could actually change colors. So what's going on? According to the NYT our eyes are able to assign fixed colors to objects under widely different lighting conditions. This ability is called color constancy. But the photograph doesn't give many clues about the ambient light in the room. Is the background bright and the dress in shadow? Or is the whole room bright and all the colors are washed out? If you think the dress is in shadow, your brain may remove the blue cast and perceive the dress as being white and gold. If you think the dress is being washed out by bright light, your brain may perceive the dress as a darker blue and black. According to Beau Lotto, the brain is doing something remarkable and that's why people are so fascinated by this dress. "It's entertaining two realities that are mutually exclusive. It's seeing one reality, but knowing there's another reality. So you're becoming an observer of yourself. You're having tremendous insight into what it is to be human. And that's the basis of imagination." As usual xkcd has the final word. It would make the comments more informatively scannable if you include your perceived color pair in the title of any comments below.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
AmiMoJo writes Twitter announced that its abuse-report system, which was recently refined to simplify and shorten the reporting process, has now expanded to allow users to report content such as self-harm incidents and "the sharing of private and confidential information" (aka doxing). The announcement, posted by Twitter Vice President of User Services Tina Bhatnagar, explained that December's report-process update was met with a "tripling" of the site's abuse support staff, which has led to a quintupling of abuse report processing. Chat logs recently revealed how Twitter is used by small groups to create vast harassment campaigns, thanks to sock puppet account and relative anonymity.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
mpicpp writes In a reversal, Google says that porn will continue to be allowed on its Blogger site. Google said it has received a big backlash after deciding earlier in the week that bloggers will no longer be able to "publicly share images and video that are sexually explicit or show graphic nudity." The ban was to have taken place on March 23. Instead, Google said that the company would simply double down on its crackdown of bloggers who use their sites to sell porn.In July, Google stopped porn from appearing in its online ads that appear on Blogger. And in 2013, Google decided to remove blogs from its Blogger network that contained advertisements for online porn sites. "We've had a ton of feedback, in particular about the introduction of a retroactive change (some people have had accounts for 10+ years), but also about the negative impact on individuals who post sexually explicit content to express their identities," wrote Jessica Pelegio, Google's social product support manager, in a post on Google product forums. "So rather than implement this change, we've decided to step up enforcement around our existing policy prohibiting commercial porn.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
schwit1 sends news that vandalism on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona knocked out internet and telephone service for hours across much of the state's northern region. ATMs, credit card functionality, and emergency services were all affected. Officers are trying to determine who cut through a pipe containing a fiber-optic cable on the outskirts of the city, leading to the outage on Wednesday, which hit northern Phoenix and large parts of the north of Arizona. ... The four-inch-thick pipe, which carries a CenturyLink cable, was found sliced through in an area where it is exposed to the elements as it crosses a desert wash about a quarter of a mile from a residential area, Holmes said. Police said the investigation is in its early stages, but that the pipe may have been vandalized by thieves looking to steal metal.

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