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The Internet

Hungary's Plans For Internet Tax On Hold After Protests 1

Posted by Soulskill
from the gigabit-off-more-than-they-could-chew dept.
An anonymous reader writes: When news broke last week that the Hungarian government was planning to tax internet traffic at a rate of about 62 cents per gigabyte, people on the internet were outraged. But it went beyond that: there were protests in the streets in Hungary, and the European Union warned against the plan. Now, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has put the plans on hold, saying, "This tax in its current form cannot be introduced." It's not completely dead — Orban has planned consultations over the next year to look for other ways to tax revenue generated over the internet.
Space

Most Planets In the Universe Are Homeless 58

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-are-the-1% dept.
StartsWithABang writes: We like to think of our Solar System as typical: a central star with a number of planets — some gas giants and some rocky worlds — in orbit around it. Yes, there's some variety, with binary or trinary star systems and huge variance in the masses of the central star being common ones, but from a planetary point of view, our Solar System is a rarity. Even though there are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy for planets to orbit, there are most likely around a quadrillion planets in our galaxy, total, with only a few trillion of them orbiting stars at most. Now that we've finally detected the first of these, we have an excellent idea that this picture is the correct one: most planets in the Universe are homeless. Now, thank your lucky star!"
Microsoft

Microsoft Enters the Wearables Market With 'Band' 46

Posted by Soulskill
from the competing-for-the-forearm dept.
Microsoft has announced the availability of "Microsoft Band," a wearable device that goes on the wrist. It's designed to do health- and fitness-related tasks, like monitoring heart rate and how well a wearer sleeps, and its on-board GPS lets users map their run/bike routes. The company says Band plays nicely with iOS and Android devices in addition to Windows phones. It also has full support for viewing phone notifications and calendar alerts, and a built-in microphone enables queries through the Cortana personal assistant software. The display is rectangular, 11mm x 33mm (0.43" x 1.3"), and has a resolution of 320x106. They claim a battery life of 48 hours, with a charge time of 1.5 hours or less. The device costs $200.
Linux

Ask Slashdot: Can You Say Something Nice About Systemd? 231

Posted by samzenpus
from the use-your-words dept.
ewhac writes: "I'm probably going to deeply deeply regret this, but every time a story appears here mentioning systemd, a 700-comment thread of back-and-forth bickering breaks out which is about as informative as an old Bud Light commercial, and I don't really learn anything new about the subject. My gut reaction to systemd is (currently) a negative one, and it's very easy to find screeds decrying systemd on the net. However, said screeds haven't been enough to prevent its adoption by several distros, which leads me to suspect that maybe there's something worthwhile there that I haven't discovered yet. So I thought it might be instructive to turn the question around and ask the membership about what makes systemd good. However, before you stab at the "Post" button, there are some rules...

Bias Disclosure: I currently dislike systemd because — without diving very deeply into the documentation, mind — it looks and feels like a poorly-described, gigantic mess I know nothing about that seeks to replace other poorly-described, smaller messes which I know a little bit about. So you will be arguing in that environment."

Nice Things About systemd Rules:
  1. Post each new Nice Thing as a new post, not as a reply to another post. This will let visitors skim the base level of comments for things that interest them, rather than have to dive through a fractally expanding tree of comments looking for things to support/oppose. It will also make it easier to follow the next rule:
  2. Avoid duplication; read the entire base-level of comments before adding a new Nice Thing. Someone may already have mentioned your Nice Thing. Add your support/opposition to that Nice Thing there, rather than as a new post.
  3. Only one concrete Nice Thing about systemd per base-level post. Keep the post focused on a single Nice Thing systemd does. If you know of multiple distinct things, write multiple distinct posts.
  4. Describe the Nice Thing in some detail. Don't assume, for example, that merely saying "Supports Linux cgroups" will be immediately persuasive.
  5. Describe how the Nice Thing is better than existing, less controversial solutions. systemd is allegedly better at some things than sysvinit or upstart or inetd. Why? Why is the Nice Thing possible in systemd, and impossible (or extremely difficult) with anything else? (In some cases, the Nice Thing will be a completely new thing that's never existed before; describe why it's good thing.)

We will assume out of the gate that systemd boots your system faster than ${SOMETHING_ELSE}, so no points for bringing that up. Bonus points are awarded for:

  • Personal Experience. "I actually did this," counts for way more than, "The docs claim you can do this."
  • Working Examples. Corollary to the above — if you did a Nice Thing with systemd, consider also posting the code/script/service file you wrote to accomplish it.
  • Links to Supporting Documentation. If you leveraged a Nice Thing, furnish a link to the docs you used that describe the Nice Thing and its usage.
United States

Statisticians Study Who Was Helped Most By Obamacare 274

Posted by samzenpus
from the looking-at-the-numbers dept.
HughPickens.com writes We know that about 10 million more people have insurance coverage this year as a result of the Affordable Care Act but until now it has been difficult to say much about who was getting that Obamacare coverage — where they live, their age, their income and other such details. Now Kevin Quealy and Margot Sanger-Katz report in the NYT that a new data set is providing a clearer picture of which people gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The data is the output of a statistical model based on a large survey of adults and shows that the law has done something rather unusual in the American economy this century: It has pushed back against inequality, essentially redistributing income — in the form of health insurance or insurance subsidies — to many of the groups that have fared poorly over the last few decades. The biggest winners from the law include people between the ages of 18 and 34; blacks; Hispanics; and people who live in rural areas. The areas with the largest increases in the health insurance rate, for example, include rural Arkansas and Nevada; southern Texas; large swaths of New Mexico, Kentucky and West Virginia; and much of inland California and Oregon.

Despite many Republican voters' disdain for the Affordable Care Act, parts of the country that lean the most heavily Republican (according to 2012 presidential election results) showed significantly more insurance gains than places where voters lean strongly Democratic. That partly reflects underlying rates of insurance. In liberal places, like Massachusetts and Hawaii, previous state policies had made insurance coverage much more widespread, leaving less room for improvement. But the correlation also reflects trends in wealth and poverty. Many of the poorest and most rural states in the country tend to favor Republican politicians.
Government

Swedish Regulator Orders Last "Hold-Out" ISP To Retain Customer Data 23

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-it-going dept.
An anonymous reader writes Despite the death of the EU Data Retention Directive in April, and despite the country having taken six years to even begin to obey the ruling, the Swedish government, via its telecoms regulator, has forced ISPs to continue retaining customer data for law enforcement purposes. Now the last ISP retrenching on the issue has been told that it must comply with the edict or face a fine of five million krona ($680,000).

While providers all over Europe have rejoiced in not being obliged any longer to provide infrastructure to retain six months of data per customer, Sweden and the United Kingdom alone have insisted on retaining the ruling — particularly surprising in the case of Sweden, since it took six years to begin adhering to the Data Retention Directive after it was made law in 2006. Britain's Data Retention and Investigatory Powers bill, rushed through in July, actually widens the scope of the original EU order.
Education

Mark Zuckerberg And John Doerr Donate $1M To Expand The Hour Of Code Campaign 18

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up dept.
theodp writes Techcrunch reports that Mark Zuckerberg has donated $500K to expand the Hour of Code campaign, which aims to reach 100 million students this year with its learn-to-code tutorials, including its top-featured tutorial starring Zuckerberg (video). Techcrunch adds that Zuckerberg's donation will be matched by fellow tutorial team teacher Bill Gates (video), Microsoft, Reid Hoffman, Salesforce, Google, and others. Zuck and Gates appear to have a sizable captive audience — a Code.org District Partnership Model brochure on the code-or-no-HS-diploma-for-you Chicago Public Schools' website calls for partner districts to "hold a district-wide Hour of Code event each year" for three years.
Power

France Investigating Mysterious Drone Activity Over 7 Nuclear Power Plant Sites 76

Posted by samzenpus
from the nothing-to-see-here dept.
thygate writes In France, an investigation has been launched into the appearance of "drones" on 7 different nuclear power plant sites across the country in the last month. Some of the plants involved are Creys-Malville en Bugey in the southeast, Blayais in the southwest, Cattenom en Chooz in the northeast, Gravelines in the north, and Nogent-sur-Seine, close to Paris. It is forbidden to fly over these sites on altitudes less than 1 km in a 5 km radius. According to a spokesman of the state electric company that runs the facilities (EDF), there was no danger to the security and production of the plants. However these incidents will likely bring nuclear safety concerns back into the spotlight.
News

Researchers Claim Metal "Patch" Found On Pacific Island Is From Amelia Earhart 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the lost-and-maybe-found dept.
An anonymous reader writes Amelia Earhart disappeared in 1937, but scientists may have now uncovered where she ended up. Researchers have identified a piece of aluminum, which washed up on a remote Pacific island, as dated to the correct time period and consistent with the design of Earhart's Lockheed Electra. From the article: "The warped piece of metal was uncovered on a 1991 voyage to the island of Nikumaroro in the Republic of Kiribati by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which has spent millions of dollars searching for Earhart's plane in a project that has involved hundreds of people. 'We don't understand how that patch got busted out of (the plane) and ended up on the island where we found it, but we have the patch, we have a piece of Earhart's aircraft,' TIGHAR executive director Ric Gillespie said."
Earth

New Study Shows Three Abrupt Pulses of CO2 During Last Deglaciation 91

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.
vinces99 writes A new study shows that the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide that contributed to the end of the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago did not occur gradually but rather was characterized by three abrupt pulses. Scientists are not sure what caused these abrupt increases, during which carbon dioxide levels rose about 10 to 15 parts per million – or about 5 percent per episode – during a span of one to two centuries. It likely was a combination of factors, they say, including ocean circulation, changing wind patterns and terrestrial processes. The finding, published Oct. 30 in the journal Nature, casts new light on the mechanisms that take the Earth in and out of ice ages.

"We used to think that naturally occurring changes in carbon dioxide took place relatively slowly over the 10,000 years it took to move out of the last ice age," said lead author Shaun Marcott, who did the work as a postdoctoral researcher at Oregon State University and is now at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "This abrupt, centennial-scale variability of CO2 appears to be a fundamental part of the global carbon cycle."

Previous research has hinted at the possibility that spikes in atmospheric carbon dioxide may have accelerated the last deglaciation, but that hypothesis had not been resolved, the researchers say. The key to the new finding is the analysis of an ice core from the West Antarctic that provided the scientists with an unprecedented glimpse into the past."
Google

Google To Disable Fallback To SSL 3.0 In Chrome 39 and Remove In Chrome 40 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-it-out dept.
An anonymous reader writes Google today announced plans to disable fallback to version 3 of the SSL protocol in Chrome 39, and remove SSL 3.0 completely in Chrome 40. The decision follows the company's disclosure of a serious security vulnerability in SSL 3.0 on October 14, the attack for which it dubbed Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption (POODLE). Following Mozilla's decision on the same day to disable SSL 3.0 by default in Firefox 34, which will be released on November 25, Google has laid out its plans for Chrome. This was expected, given that Google Security Team's Bodo Möller stated at the time: "In the coming months, we hope to remove support for SSL 3.0 completely from our client products."
Privacy

Charity Promotes Covert Surveillance App For Suicide Prevention 67

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-an-eye-on-things dept.
VoiceOfDoom writes Major UK charity The Samaritans have launched an app titled "Samaritans Radar", in an attempt to help Twitter users identify when their friends are in crisis and in need of support. Unfortunately the privacy implications appear not to have been thought through — installing the app allows it to monitor the Twitter feeds of all of your followers, searching for particular phrases or words which might indicate they are in distress. The app then sends you an email suggesting you contact your follower to offer your help. Opportunities for misuse by online harassers are at the forefront of the concerns that have been raised, in addition; there is strong evidence to suggest that this use of personal information is illegal, being in contravention of UK Data Protection law.
Security

Vulnerabilities Found (and Sought) In More Command-Line Tools 70

Posted by timothy
from the one-thing-at-a-time dept.
itwbennett writes The critical Shellshock vulnerabilities found last month in the Bash Unix shell have motivated security researchers to search for similar flaws in old, but widely used, command-line utilities. Two remote command execution vulnerabilities were patched this week in the popular wget download agent and tnftp client for Unix-like systems [also mentioned here]. This comes after a remote code execution vulnerability was found last week in a library used by strings, objdump, readelf and other command-line tools.
Graphics

Getting 'Showdown' To 90 FPS In UE4 On Oculus Rift 27

Posted by timothy
from the cutting-all-corners dept.
An anonymous reader writes Oculus has repeatedly tapped Epic Games to whip up demos to show off new iterations of Oculus Rift VR headset hardware. The latest demo, built in UE4, is 'Showdown', an action-packed scene of slow motion explosions, bullets, and debris. The challenge? Oculus asked Epic to make it run at 90 FPS to match the 90 Hz refresh rate of the latest Oculus Rift 'Crescent Bay' prototype. At the Oculus Connect conference, two of the developers from the team that created the demo share the tricks and tools they used to hit that target on a single GPU.

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