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Tesla Says Its Model 3 Car Will Go On Sale On Friday

Mon, 03/07/2017 - 2:00pm
Electric car maker Tesla says its keenly awaited Model 3 car for the masses will go on sale on Friday. From a AP report: CEO Elon Musk made the announcement Monday on Twitter. The car is to start around $35,000 and with a $7,500 federal electric car tax credit, could cost $27,500. Tesla says the five-seat car will be able to go 133 miles (215 kilometers) on a single charge and will be sporty, accelerating from zero to 60 miles per hour in under six seconds. Editor's note: the article was updated after the Associated Press, the original source, updated its report.

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Seattle Minimum Wage Study Has Serious Flaws

Mon, 03/07/2017 - 11:34am
"Remember the story from last week about how the new Seattle minimum wage law was hurting workers?" writes Slashdot reader PopeRatzo. "Well, it turns out that there are some problems with the study's methodology." The Washington Post reports: First, their data exclude workers at businesses that have more than one location; in other words, while workers at a standalone mom-and-pop restaurant show up in their results, workers at Starbucks and McDonald's don't. Almost 40 percent of workers in Washington state work at multi-location businesses, and since Seattle's minimum wage increase has been larger at large businesses than at small ones -- right now, a worker at a company with more than 500 employees is guaranteed $13.50 an hour, while a worker at a company with fewer than 500 employees is guaranteed only $11 an hour -- these workers' exclusion from the study's results is an especially germane problem (note that low-wage workers in Seattle have had an incentive to switch from small firms to large firms since the minimum wage started rising). In earlier work, in fact, the University of Washington team's results were different depending on whether these workers were included in their analysis; including them made the effects of the minimum wage look more positive. Second, the University of Washington team does not present enough data for us to assess the validity of its "synthetic control" in Washington -- that is, the set of areas to which they compare the results they observe in Seattle. The Seattle labor market is not necessarily comparable to other labor markets in the state, and given some of the researchers' implausible results, it's hard to believe the comparison group they chose is an appropriate one. Suggesting Seattle's booming labor market may have skewed the study's results, two nonpartisan economists concluded it "suffers from a number of data and methodological problems that bias the study in the direction of finding job loss, even where there may have been no job loss at all." And the Washington Post also notes the researchers findings are suspiciously "out of step with a large body of research," including another study from U.C. Berkeley researchers [PDF] which determined Seattle's wage increase "is having its intended effect."

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'Severe' Systemd Bug Allowed Remote Code Execution For Two Years

Mon, 03/07/2017 - 7:34am
ITWire reports: A flaw in systemd, the init system used on many Linux systems, can be exploited using a malicious DNS query to either crash a system or to run code remotely. The vulnerability resides in the daemon systemd-resolved and can be triggered using a TCP payload, according to Ubuntu developer Chris Coulson. This component can be tricked into allocating less memory than needed for a look-up. When the reply is bigger it overflows the buffer allowing an attacker to overwrite memory. This would result in the process either crashing or it could allow for code execution remotely. "A malicious DNS server can exploit this by responding with a specially crafted TCP payload to trick systemd-resolved in to allocating a buffer that's too small, and subsequently write arbitrary data beyond the end of it," is how Coulson put it. Affected Linux vendors have pushed out patches -- but the bug has apparently been present in systemd code since June of 2015. And long-time Slashdot reader walterbyrd also reports a recently-discovered bug where systemd unit files that contain illegal usernames get defaulted to root.

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Linux Kernel 4.12 Officially Released

Mon, 03/07/2017 - 4:34am
prisoninmate quotes Softpedia: After seven weeks of announcing release candidate versions, Linus Torvalds today informs the Linux community through a mailing list announcement about the general availability of the Linux 4.12 kernel series. Development on the Linux 4.12 kernel kicked off in mid-May with the first release candidate, and now, seven weeks later we can finally get our hands on the final release... A lot of great improvements, new hardware support, and new security features were added during all this time, which makes it one of the biggest releases, after Linux 4.9... Prominent features of the Linux 4.12 kernel include initial support for AMD Radeon RX Vega graphics cards, intial Nvidia GeForce GTX 1000 "Pascal" accelerated support, implementation of Budget Fair Queueing (BFQ) and storage-I/O schedulers, more MD RAID enhancements, support for Raspberry Pi's Broadcom BCM2835 thermal driver, a lot of F2FS optimizations, as well as ioctl for the GETFSMAP space mapping ioctl for both XFS and EXT4 filesystems. Linus said in announcing the release that "I think only 4.9 ends up having had more commits," also noting that 4.9 was a Long Term Support kernel, whereas "4.12 is just plain big." "There's also nothing particularly odd going on in the tree - it's all just normal development, just more of it than usual."

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23 Years Of The Open Source 'FreeDOS' Project

Mon, 03/07/2017 - 1:34am
Jim Hall is celebrating the 23rd birthday of the FreeDOS Project, calling it "a major milestone for any free software or open-source software project," and remembering how it all started. An anonymous reader quotes Linux Journal: If you remember Windows 3.1 at the time, it was a pretty rough environment. I didn't like that you could interact with Windows only via a mouse; there was no command line. I preferred working at the command line. So I was understandably distressed in 1994 when I read via various tech magazines that Microsoft planned to eliminate MS-DOS with the next version of Windows. I decided that if the next evolution of Windows was going to be anything like Windows 3.1, I wanted nothing to do with it... I decided to create my own version of DOS. And on June 29, 1994, I posted an announcement to a discussion group... Our "PD-DOS" project (for "Public Domain DOS") quickly grew into FreeDOS. And 23 years later, FreeDOS is still going strong! Today, many people around the world install FreeDOS to play classic DOS games, run legacy business software or develop embedded systems... FreeDOS has become a modern DOS, due to the large number of developers that continue to work on it. You can download the FreeDOS 1.2 distribution and immediately start coding in C, Assembly, Pascal, BASIC or a number of other software development languages. The standard FreeDOS editor is quite nice, or you can select from more than 15 different editors, all included in the distribution. You can browse websites with the Dillo graphical web browser, or do it "old school" via the Lynx text-mode web browser. And for those who just want to play some great DOS games, you can try adventure games like Nethack or Beyond the Titanic, arcade games like Wing and Paku Paku, flight simulators, card games and a bunch of other genres of DOS games. On his "Open Source Software and Usability" blog, Jim says he's been involved with open source software "since before anyone coined the term 'open source'," and first installed Linux on his home PC in 1993. Over on the project's blog, he's also sharing appreciative stories from FreeDOS users and from people involved with maintaining it (including memories of early 1980s computers like the Sinclair ZX80, the Atari 800XL and the Coleco Adam). Any Slashdot readers have their own fond memories to share?

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Should Kaspersky Lab Show Its Source Code To The US Government?

Sun, 02/07/2017 - 11:34pm
Today the CEO of Kaspersky Lab said he's willing to show the company's source code to the U.S. government, testify before Congress, and even move part of his research work to the U.S. to dispel suspicious about his company. The Associated Press reports: Kaspersky, a mathematical engineer who attended a KGB-sponsored school and once worked for Russia's Ministry of Defense, has long been eyed suspiciously by his competitors, particularly as his anti-virus products became popular in the U.S. market. Some speculate that Kaspersky, an engaging speaker and a fixture of the conference circuit, kept his Soviet-era intelligence connections. Others say it's unlikely that his company could operate independently in Russia, where the economy is dominated by state-owned companies and the power of spy agencies has expanded dramatically under President Vladimir Putin. No firm evidence has ever been produced to back up the claims... Like many cybersecurity outfits in the U.S. and elsewhere, some Kaspersky employees are former spies. Kaspersky acknowledged having ex-Russian intelligence workers on his staff, mainly "in our sales department for their relationship with the government sector." But he added that his company's internal network was too segregated for a single rogue employee to abuse it. "It's almost not possible," he said. "Because to do that, you have to have not just one person in the company, but a group of people that have access to different parts of our technological processes. It's too complicated." And he insisted his company would never knowingly cooperate with any country's offensive cyber operations. A key Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee has told ABC that "a consensus in Congress and among administration officials that Kaspersky Lab cannot be trusted to protect critical infrastructure." Meanwhile, Slashdot reader Kiralan shares this article from Gizmodo noting Kaspersky Lab "has worked with both Moscow and the FBI in the past, often serving as a go-between to help the two governments cooperate." But setting the precedent of gaining trust through source code access is dangerous, as is capitulating to those demands. Russia has been making the same requests of private companies recently. Major technology companies like Cisco, IBM, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, McAfee, and SAP have agreed to give the Russian government access to "code for security products such as firewalls, anti-virus applications and software containing encryption," according to Reuters. Security firm Symantec pointedly refused to cooperate with Russian demands last week. "It poses a risk to the integrity of our products that we are not willing to accept," a Symantec spokesperson said in a statement.

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New Research Explodes Myths About Ada Lovelace

Sun, 02/07/2017 - 10:34pm
Two mathematics historians investigated the Lovelace-Byron family archives (which are available online) to confirm the early mathematical prowess of Ada Lovelace for two scholarly journals. Slashdot reader bugs2squash shares a post from the Oxford Mathematical Institute: The work challenges widespread claims that Lovelace's mathematical abilities were more "poetical" than practical, or indeed that her knowledge was so limited that Babbage himself was likely to have been the author of the paper that bears her name. The authors pinpoint Lovelace's keen eye for detail, fascination with big questions, and flair for deep insights, which enabled her to challenge some deep assumptions in her teacher's work. They suggest that her ambition, in time, to do significant mathematical research was entirely credible, though sadly curtailed by her ill-health and early death. Ada Lovelace died in London at age 36.

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The US Considers A Remote Identification System For Drones

Sun, 02/07/2017 - 9:34pm
An anonymous reader quotes Engadget: The FAA is still trying to figure out the best way to regulate drones to ensure safety. Last week, a committee tasked with tackling the issue met for the first time, including representatives from Amazon, Ford and NYPD. One of the items discussed was a better way to identify registered drones from the ground since any ID numbers are pretty much invisible while the UAV is airborne... As Recode notes, Congress is working to restore mandatory registration which would be key to tying a drone to its owner for the purposes of any remote identification... Back in March, [drone manufacturer] DJI proposed what it calls an "electronic identification framework" for all drones that would give authorities in the U.S. information about the owner when necessary. That proposal includes using the radio tech DJI says is already on most drones to transmit details like location and registration number. EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) made a similar recommendation back in January 2016... [T]he FAA committee is scheduled to meet again on July 18th. Any formal recommendations are currently due to the agency by September 30th.

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15 Devices (Including 6 Laptops) Awarded FSF's 'Respects Your Freedom' Certification

Sun, 02/07/2017 - 8:34pm
This week the Free Software Foundation awarded its coveted 'Respects Your Freedom' certification to 15 products -- more than doubling the number of certified products (from 12 to 27) since the program began in 2012. An anonymous reader writes: The non-profit FSF certified six different laptops, two docking stations, three WiFi USB adapters and two internal WiFi devices, a mainboard, and their first-ever certified Bluetooth device, the TET-BT4 USB adapter. The products are all from Technoethical (formerly Tehnoetic), a Romania-based company who previously had just one mini wireless USB adapter on their list of FSF-certified products. "In 2014 we started selling hardware compatible with fully free systems in order to fund the free software activism work that we've been doing with our foundation," said Technoethical founder, Tiberiu C. Turbureanu. "Since then, we worked hard to build a hardware catalog that allows free software users to choose what best fits their computing needs, while also helping with the funding of different free software projects." "We are excited that Technoethical has brought out such an impressive collection of hardware whose associated software respects user freedom," said the FSF's executive director, John Sullivan. "RYF certification continues to gain speed and momentum, thanks to companies like them."

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China's Rocket Fails After Liftoff

Sun, 02/07/2017 - 7:34pm
An anonymous reader quotes CNN: The second launch of China's new-generation Long March-5 carrier rocket failed Sunday -- dealing a blow to the country's ambitious space aspirations. Carrying an experimental communications satellite, China's largest rocket lifted off at 7:23 p.m. local time (7:23 a.m. ET) toward clear skies from the seaside Wenchang space launch center on the southern Chinese island of Hainan. But 40 minutes later, the state-run Xinhua news agency flashed a headline declaring the launch a failure -- without providing any details. Dubbed "Chubby 5" for its huge size -- 5 meters in diameter and 57 meters tall -- the LM-5 rocket is designed to carry up to 25 tons of payload into low orbit, more than doubling the country's previous lift capability... The launch failure means further delay for a series of planned Chinese space endeavors -- including its robotic and eventual human lunar programs -- according to Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor at the US Naval War College and an expert on China's space program... China has announced plans to land a robotic probe on the dark side of the moon later this year and to reach Mars around 2020. All such future missions will depend on the LM-5 and space officials told reporters Sunday that the latest launch would help perfect the rocket design, including enabling it to send a space station into orbit "in a year or two." This morning Elon Musk tweeted his condolences, adding "I know how painful that is to the people who designed & built it."

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Seeking YouTube Fame, A Teenager Kills Her Boyfriend

Sun, 02/07/2017 - 6:34pm
Last Monday a 19-year-old woman named Monalisa Perez gave the police a strange reason for why her boyfriend, Pedro Ruiz III, was dead. An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica: A Minnesota woman has been charged with manslaughter after she shot and killed her boyfriend as part of the pair's attempt to become YouTube celebrities... The two had set up two video cameras to capture Perez firing the gun at Ruiz while he held a book in front of his chest. Ruiz apparently convinced Perez that the book would stop the bullet from a foot away. The gun, a Desert Eagle .50 caliber pistol, was not hindered by the book. Ruiz, who was found with a single gunshot in his chest, was pronounced dead at the scene. Hours before the incident, Perez posted on Twitter, "Me and Pedro are probably going to shoot one of the most dangerous videos ever. HIS idea not MINE." The teenager -- who is pregnant with the couple's second child -- now faces second-degree manslaughter charges, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $20,000, or both. A local sheriff told the New York Times, "I really have no idea what they were thinking. I just don't understand the younger generation on trying to get their 15 minutes of fame."

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Rocket Lab Inaugurates The Era Of Even Cheaper Rocket Launches

Sun, 02/07/2017 - 5:34pm
pacopico writes: Elon Musk and SpaceX kicked off the New Space era with low-cost, reusable rockets. But now there's something just as dramatic brewing with really, really cheap rockets and really, really cheap satellites. Bloomberg has just profiled Peter Beck, a self-taught rocket engineer from New Zealand, who has built a $5 million rocket that will be taking cubesats [miniaturized satellites] from Planet Labs and others to space in the next few weeks. The story talks about a new type of computing shell being built around the Earth and all the players trying to fill it up.

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Modularity Finally Approved For Java 9

Sun, 02/07/2017 - 4:34pm
An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld:With a new round of voting completed this week, the Java Community Process Executive Committee passed by a 24-0 vote the Java Platform Module System public review ballot, the subject of Java Specification Request 376. In May, the same group, citing concerns over the plan being disruptive and lacking consensus, voted the measure down, 13 to 10... Red Hat, which voted no on the previous ballot but abstained from the latest one, said there were still several items in the current proposal that it wanted further work on. "However, we do not want to delay the Java 9 release," Red Hat said. Getting "real world" feedback on the modularity system will be key to determine where further changes need to occur, Red Hat said. The Eclipse Foundation, Hazelcast, and Twitter, all of which voted no previously and yes this time around, cited sufficient progress with modularity. Java 9 is still slated for release on September 21st.

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Tylenol May Kill Kindness

Sun, 02/07/2017 - 3:34pm
Long-time Slashdot reader randomErr writes: In research published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience scientists describe the results of two experiments conducted involving more than 200 college students.Their conclusion is that acetaminophen can reduce a person's capacity to empathize with another person's pain. "We don't know why acetaminophen is having these effects, but it is concerning," senior author Baldwin Way, an Ohio State University psychologist, said. One of the studies has half the group consume a liquid with acetaminophen while the other group received a placebo. The group that drink the acetaminophen thought that people they read about experiencing pain was not as severe as the placebo group thought. The Washington Post notes that acetaminophen is the most common drug ingredient in the United States, adding that "about a quarter of all Americans take acetaminophen every week."

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California Has So Much Solar Power That Other States Are Paid To Take It

Sun, 02/07/2017 - 2:32pm
"On 14 days during March, Arizona utilities got a gift from California: free solar power," reported the Los Angeles Times. Mic reports: California is generating so much solar energy that it is resorting to paying other states to take the excess electricity in order to prevent overloading power lines. According to the Los Angeles Times, Arizona residents have already saved millions in 2017 thanks to California's contribution. The state, which produced little to no solar energy just 15 years ago, has made strides -- it single-handedly has nearly half of the country's solar electricity generating capacity... When there's too much solar energy, there is a risk of the electricity grid overloading. This can result in blackouts. In times like this, California offers other states a financial incentive to take their power. But it's not as environmentally friendly as one would think. Take Arizona, for example. The state opts to put a pin in its own solar energy sources instead of fossil fuel power, which means greenhouse gas emissions aren't getting any better due to California's overproduction. The Los Angeles Times suggests over-construction of natural gas plants created part of the problem -- Californians now pay roughly 50% more than the rest of the country for power -- but they report that power supplies could become more predictable when battery storage technologies improve.

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HP Answers The Question: Moore's Law Is Ending. Now What?

Sun, 02/07/2017 - 1:28pm
Long-time Slashdot reader Paul Fernhout writes: R. Stanley Williams, of Hewlett Packard Labs, wrote a report exploring the end of Moore's Law, saying it "could be the best thing that has happened in computing since the beginning of Moore's law. Confronting the end of an epoch should enable a new era of creativity by encouraging computer scientists to invent biologically inspired devices, circuits, and architectures implemented using recently emerging technologies." This idea is also looked at in a broader shorter article by Curt Hopkins also with HP Labs. Williams argues that "The effort to scale silicon CMOS overwhelmingly dominated the intellectual and financial capital investments of industry, government, and academia, starving investigations across broad segments of computer science and locking in one dominant model for computers, the von Neumann architecture." And Hopkins points to three alternatives already being developed at Hewlett Packard Enterprise -- neuromorphic computing, photonic computing, and Memory-Driven Computing. "All three technologies have been successfully tested in prototype devices, but MDC is at center stage."

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Central Bankers Warned Of Possible Economic 'Robocalypse'

Sun, 02/07/2017 - 10:24am
An anonymous reader quotes the Seattle Times: At an exclusive gathering at a golf resort near Lisbon, the big minds of monetary policy were seriously discussing the risk that artificial intelligence could eliminate jobs on a scale that would dwarf previous waves of technological change. "There is no question we are in an era of people asking, 'Is the Robocalpyse upon us?'" David Autor, a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told an audience Tuesday that included Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and dozens of other top central bankers and economists... [A]long with the optimism is a fear that the economic expansion might bypass large swaths of the population, in part because a growing number of jobs could be replaced by computers capable of learning -- artificial intelligence. Policymakers and economists conceded that they have not paid enough attention to how much technology has hurt the earning power of some segments of society, or planned to address the concerns of those who have lost out... In the past, technical advances caused temporary disruptions but ultimately improved living standards, creating new categories of employment along the way... But artificial intelligence threatens broad categories of jobs previously seen as safe from automation, such as legal assistants, corporate auditors and investment managers. Large groups of people could become obsolete, suffering the same fate as plow horses after the invention of the tractor. "More and more, we are seeing economists saying, 'This time could be different,'âS" said Autor, who presented a paper on the subject that he wrote with Anna Salomons, an associate professor at the Utrecht University School of Economics in the Netherlands. Ultimately we'll just have to wait and see, Autor concluded. "I say not Robocalpyse now. Perhaps Robocalpyse later."

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While Chrome Dominates, Microsoft Edge Struggles To Attract New Users

Sun, 02/07/2017 - 7:14am
An anonymous reader quotes Neowin's report on the newest browser-usage figures from NetMarketShare: Microsoft Edge only commands a market share of 5.65% -- which is an increase of only 0.02 percentage points compared to last month... it only grew by 0.56% year-over-year. On the other hand, Google Chrome has continued its dominance with a market share of 59.49%. As a point of reference, this is a sizeable growth of 10.84 percentage points year-over-year... Data from another firm, StatCounter, depicts an even more depressing situation for Microsoft. According to the report, Edge sits at 3.89%... Chrome is the king of all browsers according to these statistics as well, with a market share of 63.21% -- a decrease of 0.14 percentage points compared to last month. Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari command 14%, 9.28%, and 5.16% respectively. The firm also calculates that when it comes to desktop operating systems, Windows has 91.51% of all users, followed by MacOS at 6.12 and Linux at 2.36%.

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