posted 6 days ago on slashdot
Catalin Cimpanu, writing for BleepingComputer: A group of hackers has stolen over $20 million worth of Ethereum from Ethereum-based apps and mining rigs, Chinese cyber-security firm Qihoo 360 Netlab reported today. The cause of these thefts is Ethereum software applications that have been configured to expose an RPC [Remote Procedure Call] interface on port 8545. The purpose of this interface is to provide access to a programmatic API that an approved third-party service or app can query and interact or retrieve data from the original Ethereum-based service -- such as a mineror wallet application that users or companies have set up for mining or managing funds. Because of its role, this RPC interface grants access to some pretty sensitive functions, allowing a third-party app the ability to retrieve private keys, move funds, or retrieve the owner's personal details.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
The longest continuous daily satellite observation record of Earth ever compiled is now available for all of us to peruse. Tom Yulsman, writing for Discover Magazine: Multiple instruments aboard NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites, launched in 1999 and 2002, respectively, have kept close watch on the virtually the entire planet for nearly 20 years. Now, for the first time, the entire treasure trove of imagery and scientific information is available for exploration in Worldview, an engaging, interactive web-based application. I've been using Worldview regularly to find imagery for use here at ImaGeo since I launched the blog in 2013. But until now, there was a significant limitation: The data available went back only to 2012. Now, after more than five years of work, NASA has extended what's available on Worldview back to the year 2000, when the Terra satellite first became operational. Terra was lofted into polar orbit with a suite of five remote sensors. The most comprehensive is an instrument called the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
Programming languages such as Lua, Objective-C, Erlang, and Ruby (on Rails) offer distinct features, but they are also riddled with certain well-documented drawbacks. However, writes respected critic Dominik Wagner, their origination and continued existence serves a purpose. In 2014, Apple introduced Swift programming language. It has been four years, but Wagner and many developers who have shared the blog post over the weekend, wonder what exactly is Swift trying to solve as they capture the struggle at least a portion of developers who are writing in Swift face today. Writes Wagner: Swift just wanted to be better, more modern, the future -- the one language to rule them all. A first red flag for anyone who ever tried to do a 2.0 rewrite of anything. On top of that it chose to be opinionated about features of Objective-C, that many long time developers consider virtues, not problems: Adding compile time static dispatch, and making dynamic dispatch and message passing a second class citizen and introspection a non-feature. Define the convenience and elegance of nil-message passing only as a source of problems. Classify the implicit optionality of objects purely as a source of bugs. [...] It keeps defering the big wins to the future while it only offered a very labour intensive upgrade path. Without a steady revenue stream, many apps that would have just compiled fine if done in Objective-C, either can't take advantage of new features of the devices easily, or had to be taken out of the App Store alltogether, because upgrading would be to costly. If you are working in the indie dev-scene, you probably know one of those stories as well. And while this is supposed to be over now, this damage has been done and is real. On top of all of this, there is that great tension with the existing Apple framework ecosystem. While Apple did a great job on exposing Cocoa/Foundation as graspable into Swift as they could, there is still great tension in the way Swift wants to see the world, and the design paradigms that created the existing frameworks. That tension is not resolved yet, and since it is a design conflict, essentially can't be resolved. Just mitigated. From old foundational design patterns of Cocoa, like delegation, data sources, flat class hierarchies, over to the way the collection classes work, and how forgiving the API in general should be. If you work in that world you are constantly torn between doing things the Swift/standard-library way, or the Cocoa way and bridging in-between. To make matters worse there are a lot of concepts that don't even have a good equivalent. This, for me at least, generates an almost unbearable mental load.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
The Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net neutrality rules, which had required internet service providers to offer equal access to all web content, took effect on Monday. The rules, enacted by the administration of President Barack Obama in 2015, prohibited internet providers from charging more for certain content or from giving preferential treatment to certain websites. CNET: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has called the Obama-era rules "heavy-handed" and "a mistake," and he's argued that they deterred innovation and depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks. To set things right, he says, he's taking the FCC back to a "light touch" approach to regulation, a move that Republicans and internet service providers have applauded. But supporters of net neutrality -- such as big tech companies like Google and Facebook, as well as consumer groups and pioneers of the internet like World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee -- say the internet as we know it may not exist without these protections. "We need a referee on the field who can throw a flag," former FCC Chairman and Obama appointee Tom Wheeler said at MIT during a panel discussion in support of rules like those he championed. Wheeler was chairman when the rules passed three years ago. We expect to see some protests today as the tussle to convince House representatives to reinstate the regulations continues. Some members of Congress are still fighting to overturn the ruling, so there's hope for a net neutrality return if legislators agree to it. Further reading: The Washington Post published an interview of Pai over the weekend. In the interview, Pai remained bullish that the FTC could stop abuses. He also criticized Senate Dems and others for spreading misinformation during net neutrality debate. Over at CNET, Ajit Pai has written an op-ed, in which ... he is defending his move.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader shares a report: Microsoft has announced that starting next month it will no longer be participating in the technical support forums for Windows 7, 8.1, 8.1 RT and numerous other products. On the software front, the company says that it will also no longer provide support for Microsoft Security Essentials, Internet Explorer 10, Office 2010 and 2013 as of July. It is not just software that is affected. Microsoft is also stopping support for Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2, Surface RT, Surface 2, Microsoft Band and Zune. Some forums will be locked, preventing users from helping each other as well.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader shares a report: A city in northern China has introduced a special pedestrian lane on one of its roads, exclusively for slow-walking smartphone users, it's reported. According to the Shaanxi Online News, the pavement along the Yanta Road in Xi'an has now got itself a special lane for "phubbers" -- people who stare at their phones and ignore everything else around them. The lane is painted red, green and blue, and is 80cm wide and 100m long. Pictures of smartphones along the route distinguish it from an ordinary pedestrian lane. Shaanxi Online says that a large shopping mall, which looks onto the street, had been pushing to have the lane for a month. It says that cars often come onto the pavement, which is a busy channel for pedestrians who might not be paying attention to their surroundings. News website The Paper interviewed locals, who welcomed the introduction of the lane. Wei Xiaowei said it was the first time he had seen such a thing and said he thought it was "pretty good." "Everybody walking along here thinks that it's very safe; at the side of the road, there are cars, and the vehicles also come onto here, and sometimes only just avoid you."

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
Wired has a story on Windows' red team, which consists of a group of hackers (one of whom jailbroke Nintendo handhelds in a former life, another has more than one zero-day exploit to his name, and a third signed on just prior to the devastating Shadow Brokers leak), who are tasked with finding holes in the world's most used desktop operating system. From the story: The Windows red team didn't exist four years ago. That's around the time that David Weston, who currently leads the crew as principal security group manager for Windows, made his pitch for Microsoft to rethink how it handled the security of its marquee product. "Most of our hardening of the Windows operating system in previous generations was: Wait for a big attack to happen, or wait for someone to tell us about a new technique, and then spend some time trying to fix that," Weston says. "Obviously that's not ideal when the stakes are very high." [...] Together, the red teamers spend their days attacking Windows. Every year, they develop a zero-day exploit to test their defensive blue-team counterparts. And when emergencies like Spectre or EternalBlue happen, they're among the first to get the call. Again, red teams aren't novel; companies that can afford them -- and that are aware they could be targeted -- tend to use them. If anything, it may come as a surprise that Microsoft hadn't sicced one on Windows until so recently. Microsoft as a company already had several other red teams in place by the time Weston built one for Windows, though those focused more on operational issues like unpatched machines. "Windows is still the central repository of malware and exploits. Practically, there's so much business done around the world on Windows. The attacker mentality is to get the biggest return on investment in what you develop in terms of code and exploits," says Aaron Lint, who regularly works with red teams in his role as chief scientist at application protection provider Arxan. "Windows is the obvious target."

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
Digital IDs should be brought in to end online anonymity that permits "mob rule" and lawlessness online, the security minister of United Kingdom has said. From a report: Ben Wallace said authentication used by banks could also by employed by internet firms to crack down on bullying and grooming, as he warned that people had to make a choice between "the wild west or a civilised society" online. He also took aim at the "phoniness" of Silicon Valley billionaires, and called for companies such as WhatsApp to contribute to society over the negative costs of their technology, such as end-to-end encryption. It comes after Theresa May took another step against tech giants, saying they would be ordered to clamp down on vile attacks against women on their platforms. The prime minister will target firms such as Facebook and Twitter as she makes the pitch at the G7 summit this weekend, where she will urge social media firms to treat violent misogyny with the same urgency as they do terror threats. Mr Wallace told The Times: "A lot of the bullying on social media and the grooming is because those people know you cannot identify them. It is mob rule on the internet. You shouldn't be able to hide behind anonymity."

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
Phil Spencer, Microsoft's gaming chief, revealed the company is building a streaming game service for any device. Our cloud engineers are building a game streaming network to unlock console gaming on any device, he said, adding this service will offer "console quality gaming on any device." From a report: "Gaming is now at its most vibrant," he said. "In this significant moment we are constantly challenging ourselves about where we can take gaming next." He said that Microsoft is recommitting and harnessing the full breath of the company to deliver on the future of play. That includes experts in Microsoft research working on developing the future of gaming AI and the company's cloud engineers building a game streaming network. He added that the company is also in the midst of developing the architecture for the next Xbox consoles. Further reading: Microsoft Acquires Four Gaming Studios, Including Ninja Theory, As It Looks To Bolster First-Party Catalog.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
Microsoft has never had as many internal studios as Sony or Nintendo, and that has prevented it from having many first-party exclusives this generation. That changes today. From a report: At E3 trade show in Los Angeles on Sunday, the company's gaming chief Phil Spencer announced the creation of a new studio called The Initiative led by industry veteran Daryl Gallagher. He then followed up with revealing the Microsoft acquisitions of Ninja theory, Playground Games, Compulsion Games, and Undead Labs. This bolsters the company's first-party efforts, and Spencer said it is evidence of his dedication to Xbox and its fans. Ninja Theory is best known for producing 2017's break out indie hit Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. Playground has long overseen the Forza Horizon series for Microsoft. Compulsion is responsible for We Happy Few. Undead Labs created State of Decay. Also at E3, Microsoft teased Halo Infinite, and announced Forza Horizon 4. It also announced the availability of Automata, and unveiled FromSoft's Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, a new Battletoads game, new downloadable content for its exclusive platforming shooter Cuphead, a crossover game that features some of the biggest anime franchises, including Dragon Ball, One Piece, and Naruto, Devil May Cry 5 , a skating game called Session, Tom Clancy's The Division 2 is hitting PC and consoles, Bethesda's Fallout 76, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and improvements to Xbox Game Pass.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
Anonymous readers share a report: As President Trump prepares to meet Kim Jong-un of North Korea to negotiate denuclearization, a challenge that has bedeviled the world for years, he is doing so without the help of a White House science adviser or senior counselor trained in nuclear physics. Mr. Trump is the first president since 1941 not to name a science adviser, a position created during World War II to guide the Oval Office on technical matters ranging from nuclear warfare to global pandemics. As a businessman and president, Mr. Trump has proudly been guided by his instincts. Nevertheless, people who have participated in past nuclear negotiations say the absence of such high-level expertise could put him at a tactical disadvantage in one of the weightiest diplomatic matters of his presidency. "You need to have an empowered senior science adviser at the table," said R. Nicholas Burns, who led negotiations with India over a civilian nuclear deal during the George W. Bush administration. "You can be sure the other side will have that." The lack of traditional scientific advisory leadership in the White House is one example of a significant change in the Trump administration: the marginalization of science in shaping United States policy. There is no chief scientist at the State Department, where science is central to foreign policy matters such as cybersecurity and global warming. Nor is there a chief scientist at the Department of Agriculture: Mr. Trump last year nominated Sam Clovis, a former talk-show host with no scientific background, to the position, but he withdrew his name and no new nomination has been made.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
In Silicon Valley, first-name-only email addresses have long been the ultimate status symbol, indicating a techie was an early hire at a new company. Now that startups are growing, the one-namers are wreaking havoc -- and the competition to snag them is fierce. From a report on WSJ: When Peter Szabo heard he and his co-workers would receive new email addresses after his tech company was launched from an incubator, he ran to his boss and confirmed he would get the "Peter" first-name email address. After years of failing to arrive at companies early enough to bag the prized address, Mr. Szabo negotiated getting the single-name email at the earliest opportunity. "As companies get bigger, if you can be the original Peter, absolutely that's bragging rights," said Mr. Szabo, who is chief revenue officer of mobile-entertainment network startup Mammoth Media. "It's huge." [...] Startups are growing faster than at any time since the dot-com boom thanks to a flood of venture capital. The system of using first names is leading to more email misfires at tech companies the more successful, and larger, they get. {...] Even techies are having a hard time figuring out how to disrupt the naming convention of corporate email. The growing pains usually set in when startups reach 25 to 50 employees, as names begin to overlap, according to Josh Walter, who has designed email services for companies for the past eight years. "That's when companies say, 'Oh no, what do we do now?'" Mr. Walter says. He is currently IT engineer at Second Measure, a Silicon Valley startup that analyzes consumer spending.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
Gloria Dickie, writing for Undark Magazine: A 30-meter Komelon-branded measuring tape, a pencil, and a yellow paper form are all Hallsteinn Haraldsson carries with him when he travels to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland. But unfurling the measuring tape before me at his home in Mosfellsbaer, a town just outside of Reykjavik, he says it is a significant upgrade from the piece of marked rope he used to bring along. With 11 percent of the landmass covered in ice, rapidly ebbing glaciers are threatening to reshape Iceland's landscape, and Haraldsson, 74, is part of a contingent of volunteer glacier monitors who are at the frontlines of tracking the retreat. Every autumn, Haraldsson, often accompanied by his wife and son, sets off on foot to measure the changes in his assigned glacier. Their rudimentary tools are a far cry from the satellites and time-lapse photography deployed around the world in recent decades to track ice loss, and lately, there's been talk of disbanding this nearly century-old, low-tech network of monitors. But this sort of ground-truthing work has more than one purpose: With Iceland's glaciers at their melting point, these men and women -- farmers, schoolchildren, a plastic surgeon, even a Supreme Court judge -- serve not only as the glaciers' guardians, but also their messengers. Today, some 35 volunteers monitor 64 measurement sites around the country. The numbers they collect are published in the Icelandic scientific journal Jokull, and submitted to the World Glacier Monitoring Service database. Vacancies for glacier monitors are rare and highly sought-after, and many glaciers have been in the same family for generations, passed down to sons and daughters, like Haraldsson, when the journey becomes too arduous for their aging watchmen. It's very likely one of the longest-running examples of citizen climate science in the world. But in an age when precision glacier tracking can be conducted from afar, it remains unclear whether, or for how long, this sort of heirloom monitoring will continue into the future. It's a question even some of the network's own members have been asking.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
EA CEO Andrew Wilson announced that the game publisher is making a big move into cloud gaming. The company is also planning to launch a new version of its Origin Access subscription service on PC called Origin Access Premiere that will introduce games like Madden, FIFA, and more the same day they launch at retail. From a report: During the publisher's E3 2018 press conference, CEO Andrew Wilson descried the combination of streaming and subscription as "the greatest disruption" to the world of entertainment of the past five years. He pointed to how this business model for movies, TV and books has changed those markets, and believes this combination will have "a profound impact" on the games industry in the years to come. Wilson's comments echoed those of his CFO Blake Jorgensen, who said back in November that a combination of live services, such as FIFA Ultimate Team, and subscriptions will lead to "uncapped" monetisation of its players over the longest possible period of time. In its latest financials, EA revealed that 40% of its revenue last year came from live services, while full game downloads and physical game sales are dropping. Wilson reminded conference attendees of the publisher's recent acquisition of GameFly's Israel-based cloud gaming team, predicting a future where players can enjoy high-end games on any device anywhere with an internet connection. While there are tech demos for EA's streaming service out there, Wilson stressed that it's "not quite ready for full market primetime," but pitched it as a "promise of what we hope to bring you in the future." In the meantime, Electronic Arts took the opportunity to announce a new subscription system that shows the publisher continuing to push towards a service-based economy for video games. Origin Access Premier is a new addition to the firm's PC-based games service: a premium subscription that gives players access to even more titles.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Hackers have used a disk-wiping malware to sabotage hundreds of computers at a bank in Chile to distract staff while they were attempting to steal money via the bank's SWIFT money transferring system. The attempted hack took place at the end of May when hackers wiped the HDD MBR of over 9,000 computers and over 500 servers. Fortunately the hackers failed to steal money from the bank (an estimated $11 million). This is the same hacker group who failed last month when they tried to steal over $110 million from a Mexico bank. Further reading: Ripple and SWIFT slug it out over cross-border payments.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
The Key2 smartphone, which BlackBerry unveiled earlier this week, is the "most secure Android smartphone," the Canadian company claims. Brian Fagioli, writing for BetaNews: While BlackBerry no longer makes smartphones, it does license its name to a company called TCL which makes Android devices that carry the branding -- and sometimes, a physical keyboard. It isn't just slapping the BlackBerry name on a random low-quality Android phone, however. Actually, these TCL devices have been fairly well received thanks to an adherence to traditional BlackBerry designs. Today, TCL unveils its latest such smartphone, called "KEY2," and it looks quite nice. In fact, the company says it is "the most secure Android smartphone."

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
Bitcoin extended losses for a third day, tumbling as much as 6 percent Sunday as South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Coinrail said there was a "cyber intrusion" in its system. From a report: The largest cryptocurrency declined 4.6 percent to $7,277 as of 10 a.m. time, the biggest drop since May 23, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from Bitstamp pricing. That widens Bitcoin's losses for the year to 49 percent. Peer cryptocurrencies Ethereum and Ripple fell 5 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Most online quizzes are relatively mindless, promising to reveal which vegetable, sandwich or rock band best represents your personality. That was not the case for a short online test given to 16,000 people in 15 countries this year. It revealed just how unprepared a good chunk of the world is for retirement. The three-question test, given as part of the Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey 2018, measured how well people understand basic financial concepts. Many of the participants failed the quiz, with big potential consequences for their future security. Beyond the sobering lack of financial literacy, there were some rather curious data in Aegonâ(TM)s annual survey, published on Tuesday. For example, some 20 percent of workers surveyed in China envisioned spending retirement with a robot companion. But before we get to that, take a look at this question -- which only 45 percent of people around the world got right: The possible answers? True, false, do not know and refuse to answer. Sixteen percent of people got it wrong. "Do not know" was chosen by 38 percent. In the U.S., 46 percent of workers got it right. Good for you, America -- though Germany beat you handily. (The answer, in case you were wondering, is false.) It was an inflation question that had the highest percentage of wrong answers, however. More than 20 percent of workers didn't grasp how higher inflation hurts their buying power. Given that declining health was the most-cited retirement worry, at 49 percent, and health care is an area (in the U.S., especially) with high cost inflation, well, that makes the subject something older folks should have down cold.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
To celebrate its 14th birthday, Phoronix.com used a 15-inch MacBook Pro to run system benchmarking tests on the following operating systems: - Windows 10 Pro - The latest macOS 10.13 High Sierra - Windows 10 Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) using Ubuntu 18.04 - Ubuntu 18.04 LTS with the Linux 4.15 kernel, GCC 7.3.0, and an EXT4 file-system. - Clear Linux 22780 with the Linux 4.16 kernel, GCC 8.1.1, and EXT4. - Fedora Workstation 28 with updates is the Linux 4.16 kernel, GCC 8.1.1, and EXT4. - OpenSUSE Tumbleweed with the Linux 4.16 kernel, GCC 7.3.1, and default file-system configuration of Btrfs root file-system with XFS home partition. The results? When it came to outright wins and losses, Clear Linux 22780 was the front-runner 59% of the time followed by macOS 10.13.4 finishing first 21% of the time and then Fedora Workstation 28 with winning 10% of the time. For losses, to little surprise considering the I/O overhead, Windows 10 was in last place 38% of the time followed by Ubuntu 18.04 being surprisingly the slowest Linux distribution 30% of the time on this 2016 MacBook Pro. The article also reminds readers that "For those looking for a Linux laptop, there are plenty of better options..."

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
The National Institutes of Health is paying a St. Louis university to study the effectiveness of flu vaccines. An anonymous reader quotes Fortune: The university wants volunteers to live in "hotel influenza," where they'd be either given a vaccine or a placebo, be exposed to the flu, and be quarantined for 10 days in the Extended Stay Research Unit. Compensation for such an experiment is around $3,500 (for time and travel), according to a SLU release... "In a traditional flu study, we vaccinate people and see if their immune systems respond by creating antibodies that fight flu," Dr. Hoff said in a release. "In a human challenge study, we vaccinate people, then deliberately challenge their bodies by exposing them to flu to see if they get sick"... The 24 volunteers living in the "hotel influenza" would have private rooms and bathrooms, common areas with with chairs and TVs, along with exercise equipment, and catered meals in a dining room. They will be observed, "have blood and lung tests and nose swabs to see if they are infected with flu and shedding the virus." If they come down with the flu, they won't be able to leave until they've tested negative for the virus for two days. Nurses would be available around the clock. One St. Louis newspaper jokes that it will either be a "sickathon" -- or "an indoor vacation complete with catered meals, TV, internet, a gym and views of the Arch".

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
"Dear Init Freedom Lovers..." begins the announcement at Devuan.org: We are happy to announce that Devuan GNU+Linux 2.0 ASCII Stable is finally available. Devuan is a GNU+Linux distribution committed to providing a universal, stable, dependable, free software operating system that uses and promotes alternatives to systemd and its components. Devuan 2.0 ASCII runs on several architectures. Installer CD and DVD ISOs, as well as desktop-live and minimal-live ISOs, are available for i386 and amd64. Ready-to-use images can be downloaded for a number of ARM platforms and SOCs, including Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, OrangePi, BananaPi, OLinuXino, Cubieboard, Nokia and Motorola mobile phones, and several Chromebooks, as well as for Virtualbox/QEMU/Vagrant. The Devuan 2.0 ASCII installer ISOs offer a variety of Desktop Environments including Xfce, KDE, MATE, Cinnamon, LXQt, with others available post-install. The expert install mode now offers a choice of either SysVinit or OpenRC as init system... We would like to thank the entire Devuan community for the continued support, feedback, and collaboration.... The release notes include information on Devuan's new network of package repository mirrors, and they're also touting their "direct and easy upgrade paths" from Devuan Jessie, Debian Jessie and Debian Stretch.

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
Long-time Slashdot reader theodp writes: As Facebook's privacy debacle rages on, it's interesting to look back at Mark Zuckerberg's 2012 visit to the Facebook Moscow Hack (photos, video), at which Facebook provided training in how to access the data of app users' friends and awarded prizes for apps that did so. In a 2012 video, Facebook's Simon Cross shows the Moscow crowd how they can "get a ton of other information" on Facebook users and their friends. "We now have an access token, so now let's make the same request again and see what happens," Cross explains (YouTube). "We've got a little bit more data, but now we can start doing really interesting stuff. We can get my friends. We can get some more information about one of my friends. Here's Connor, who you'll meet later. Say 'hello,' Connor. He's waving. And we can also get a ton of other information as well." Cross, ironically, was the spokesperson Facebook later tapped in 2015 to explain to the press why giving friends' data to apps was a horrible idea that had to be curtailed lest Facebook lose its users' trust. Cross told reporters that Mark Zuckerberg said one of Facebook's new slogans was 'People First', because "if people don't feel comfortable using Facebook and specifically logging in Facebook and using Facebook in apps, we don't have a platform, we don't have developers."

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes InfoQ: Ron Jeffries, author, speaker, one of the creators of Extreme Programming (XP), and a signatory of the Agile Manifesto back in 2001, shared a post on his blog in which he advocates that developers should abandon "Agile". The post further elaborated that developers should stay away from the "Faux Agile" or "Dark Agile" forms, and instead get closer to the values and principles of the Manifesto. The terms "Faux Agile" and "Dark Agile" are used by the author to give emphasis to the variety of the so-called "Agile" approaches that have contributed, according to him, to make the life of the developers worse rather than better, which is the antithesis of one of the initial ideas of the Agile Manifesto... Jeffries writes that "When 'Agile' ideas are applied poorly, they often lead to more interference with developers, less time to do the work, higher pressure, and demands to 'go faster'. This is bad for the developers, and, ultimately, bad for the enterprise as well, because doing 'Agile' poorly will result, more often than not, in far more defects and much slower progress than could be attained. Often, good developers leave such organizations, resulting in a less effective enterprise than prior to installing 'Agile'... "it breaks my heart to see the ideas we wrote about in the Agile Manifesto used to make developers' lives worse, instead of better. It also saddens me that the enterprise isn't getting what it could out of the deal, but my main concern is for the people doing the work..." He argues developers should instead just focus on good general software development practices -- like regularly producing fully-tested software and consciously avoiding "crufty" complex designs. But what do Slashdot's readers think? Should developers abandon Agile?

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
EqualCitizens.US reports on growing opposition to the CLASSICS Act proposed by the U.S. Congress, which grants blanket copyright protection to all audio works created before 1972, leaving some of them copyrighted until 2067. Importantly, the Act doesn't require artists or the rights holder to register for the copyright. Rather, any and all pre-1972 sound recordings would be copyrighted, greatly limiting the public's access to these works. Various organizations and scholars have responded. Equal Citizens along with a coalition of internet freedom and democracy reform organizations, is sending this letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee to urge its members to reject this Act in its entirety, or at a minimum, at least require registration of pre-1972 works. Otherwise, if the Act passes as is, famous artists and wealthy corporations will benefit greatly while the public will get absolutely nothing in return, as Professor Lawrence Lessig notes in Wired.... This act will limit access to past works and stifle creativity for new works. It would effectively remove many existing works, including some popular documentaries, podcasts, etc., from the public arena. The Coalition recommends adding a registration requirement to secure the extended copyright term, such that works that nobody claimed could be allowed to enter the public domain. As this TechCrunch report on the coalition letter explains: By having artists and rights owners register, it solves the problem for everyone. Anyone who wants to have their pre-1972 works brought into the new scheme can easily achieve that, but orphan works will enter the public domain as they ought to. "Either way," Lessig writes, "it is finally clear that the Supreme Court's prediction that the copyright owners would be satisfied with the copyright protection provided by the Sonny Bono Act turns out not to be true."

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
"Thousands of tons of material left curbside for recycling in dozens of U.S. cities and towns -- including several in Oregon -- have gone to landfills," reports the New York Times. Slashdot reader schwit1 summarizes their report: One big reason: China has essentially shut the door to U.S. recyclables. The Times notes that about a third of recyclables gets shipped abroad, with China the biggest importer. But starting this year, China imposed strict rules on what it will accept, effectively banning most of it. That, the Times reports, has forced many recycling companies who can't find other takers to dump recyclables into landfills. "Recyclers in Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany and other parts of Europe have also scrambled to find alternatives," reports the Times, though most major U.S. cities aren't affected, and countries like India, Vietnam and Indonesia are now importing more materials. But at least some recycling companies are simply stockpiling material, "while looking for new processors, or hoping that China reconsiders its policy."

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