The Courts

Adblock Plus Victorious Again In Court 132

Posted by samzenpus
from the win-again dept.
New submitter Xochil writes: AdBlock Plus has successfully defended itself in court for the second time in five weeks. The Munich Regional Court ruled against media companies ProSiebenSat1 and IP Deutschland. The companies sued Eyeo, the company behind Adblock Plus, asking the court to ban the distribution of the free ad-blocking software, saying it hurts their ad-based business model. An Eyeo release says in part: "We are elated at the decision reached today by the Munich court, which is another win for every internet user. It confirms each individual’s right to block annoying ads, protect their privacy and, by extension, determine his or her own internet experience. This time it also confirms the legitimacy of our Acceptable Ads initiative as a compromise in the often contentious and rarely progressive world of online advertising."
Software

Why PowerPoint Should Be Banned 309

Posted by Soulskill
from the hang-on-my-clicker-isn't-working dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An editorial at the Washington Post argues that Microsoft PowerPoint is being relied upon by too many to do too much, and we should start working to get rid of it. "Its slides are oversimplified, and bullet points omit the complexities of nearly any issue. The slides are designed to skip the learning process, which — when it works — involves dialogue, eye-to-eye contact and discussions. Of course PowerPoint has merits — it can help businesses with their sales pitches or let teachers introduce technology into the classroom. But instead of being used as a means for a dynamic engagement, it has become a poor substitute for longer, well-thought-out briefings and technical reports. It has become a crutch."
AI

Microsoft Bringing Cortana To iOS, Android 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the new-ways-for-your-phone-to-yell-at-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: While many big tech companies have their own personal assistant software these days, few of them are available on a broad variety of devices. Microsoft has now announced that it's becoming one of those few: Cortana will be available for iOS and Android devices later this year. It's part of an initiative by the company to ensure Windows 10 plays well with all sorts of devices, even phones made by the other major manufacturers. Microsoft said, "Regardless of the operating systems you choose across your devices – everything important to you should roam across the products you already own – including your phone." This led them to develop a "Phone Companion app," built into Windows 10, that's designed to help sync a user's PC with his phone.
Android

Hyundai Now Offers an Android Car, Even For Current Owners 84

Posted by timothy
from the one-way-to-spin-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Looking more like a computer company than a car company, Hyundai ships Android Auto on 2015 Sonatas and unlocks it for owners of the 2015 Sonata with a software update. Says the article: To enable Android Auto, existing 2015 Hyundai Sonata owners outfitted with the Navigation feature can download an update to a USB drive, plug it into the car's USB port, and rewrite the software installed in the factory on the head-unit. When the smartphone is plugged into the head-unit with a USB cable, the user is prompted to download Android Auto along with mobile apps. Android Auto requires Android 5.0 or above. That sounds like a good description of how I'd like my car's head unit to work -- and for that matter, I'd like access to all of the software.
Spam

Attackers Use Email Spam To Infect Point-of-Sale Terminals 82

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
jfruh writes: Point-of-sale software has meant that in many cases where once you'd have seen a cash register, you now see a general-purpose PC running point-of-sale (PoS) software. Unfortunately, those PCs have all the usual vulnerabilities, and when you run software on it that processes credit card payments, they become a tempting target for hackers. One of the latest attacks on PoS software comes in the form of malicious Word macros downloaded from spam emails.
Firefox

Firefox's Optional Tracking Protection Reduces Load Time For News Sites By 44% 205

Posted by Soulskill
from the definition-of-a-win-win dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Former Mozilla software engineer Monica Chew and Computer Science researcher Georgios Kontaxis recently released a paper (PDF) that examines Firefox's optional Tracking Protection feature. The duo found that with Tracking Protection enabled, the Alexa top 200 news sites saw a 67.5 percent reduction in the number of HTTP cookies set. Furthermore, performance benefits included a 44 percent median reduction in page load time and 39 percent reduction in data usage.
Blackberry

Microsoft Reportedly May Acquire BlackBerry 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the circle-of-business dept.
New submitter techtsp writes: Microsoft is just one one of many companies reportedly looking to get a bigger piece of the enterprise mobile market by buying BlackBerry. Reports claim that Chinese firms including Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi are also interested in picking up BlackBerry following the company's recent return to profitability. This report comes on the heels of BlackBerry announcing it is cutting jobs across its global business units in an attempt to consolidate its software, hardware and applications business.
Mars

Software Patch Fixes Mars Curiosity Rover's Auto-focus Glitch 53

Posted by Soulskill
from the careful-with-those-semi-colons dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory have successfully uploaded and applied a software patch to NASA's Curiosity Rover on Mars. The patch fixes a focusing problem that cropped up in November when the laser that helps to focus one of its cameras failed. "Without this laser rangefinder, the ChemCam instrument was somewhat blind," said Roger Wiens, ChemCam principal investigator at Los Alamos. "The main laser that creates flashes of plasma when it analyzes rocks and soils up to 25 feet [7.6 meters] from the rover was not affected, but the laser analyses only work when the telescope projecting the laser light to the target is in focus." Before the fix, scientists had to shoot images at nine different focus settings to distill a decent set of data. Now, they say the new software results in better images in a single shot than even before the laser broke down. The program that runs the instrument is only 40 kilobytes in size.
Sci-Fi

The Hoverboard Flies Closer To Reality 76

Posted by Soulskill
from the for-when-you-want-to-travel-in-a-highly-inefficient-manner dept.
Dave Knott writes: Fans of 1980s cinema were disappointed when the year 2015 arrived without a practical version Marty McFly's hoverboard. Now, a Montréal-based man has brought it closer to reality by setting a new record for longest "flight" by hoverboard. In a filmed test recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records, Catalin Alexandru Duru pilots his somewhat cumbersome looking rig for 250 meters — five times the previous record — at a height of five meters above Quebec's Lake Ouareau. Duru and his business partner "hope to have a new prototype finished by the end of the year and then have hoverboards available for purchase across the country. He wouldn't say how much the prototype cost to build, but said that the first generation of the machine will likely be 'quite expensive.'" "This thing is still quite dangerous," he added, explaining that the pilot uses only his or her feet to fly the contraption. The commercial version's software will limit it to flying below a height of about one-and-a-half meters above the ground.
Operating Systems

Google Developing 'Brillo' OS For Internet of Things 225

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-run-on-your-brilloPad dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A new report from The Information (paywalled) says Google is working on an operating system called "Brillo" that would be a platform for Internet-of-things devices. It's supposedly a lightweight version of Android, capable of running on devices with extremely limited hardware — as little as 32 MB of RAM, for example. The company is expected to launch the code for Brillo at its I/O event next week. This is particularly relevant now that Google has acquired Nest, Dropcam, and Revolv — a trio of "smart home" companies whose devices could potentially by unified by Brillo.
Cloud

A Conversation with Druva Co-Founder Jaspreet Singh (Video) 39

Posted by Roblimo
from the doo-wop-is-now-de-dupe dept.
This was originally going to be an interview about the state of enterprise-level backup software in an increasingly edge computing-focused world, but we rapidly drifted into talking about how Druva started in Pune (near Bangalore) and ended up moving to Silicon Valley. We hear plenty about American software companies moving to India, but not a lot about Indian software companies moving here. Druva had good reasons for the move, the chief one being a financing deal with Sequoia Capital. Aside from that, though, Jaspreet says the talent pool -- not just developers but software marketing people and other important staffers -- is more concentrated in Silicon Valley than almost anywhere else in the world. 'It's like Hollywood for geeks,' Jaspreet says. This doesn't mean business is necessarily easy in the USA: Jaspreet ended up laying off his entire staff. Twice. And he made other mistakes as a young, new CEO bringing a company to life in a crowded field.

Those mistakes, which Jaspreet shares freely with us, are like a business school 'Start-Up Pitfalls' class. You may never want to do your own startup, but if you're a developer or otherwise involved with the software industry, there's a good chance that you'll have a chance to work for one at some point. And if you have that chance, you'll be glad you watched this video (or read the transcript) before you take the startup plunge.
Google

NSA Planned To Hijack Google App Store To Hack Smartphones 94

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-you-with dept.
Advocatus Diaboli writes: A newly released top secret document reveals that the NSA planned to hijack Google and Samsung app stores to plant spying software on smartphones. The report on the surveillance project, dubbed "IRRITANT HORN," shows the U.S. and its "Five Eyes" alliance: Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia, were looking at ways to hack smartphones and spy on users. According to The Intercept: "The top-secret document, obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, was published Wednesday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept. The document outlines a series of tactics that the NSA and its counterparts in the Five Eyes were working on during workshops held in Australia and Canada between November 2011 and February 2012."
Businesses

Security Researchers Wary of Wassenaar Rules 34

Posted by samzenpus
from the rules-of-the-game dept.
msm1267 writes: The Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security today made public its proposal to implement the controversial Wassenaar Arrangement, and computer security specialists are wary of its language and vagaries. For starters, its definition of "intrusion software" that originally was meant to stem the effect of spying software such as FinFisher and Hacking Team, has also apparently snared many penetration testing tools. Also, despite the Commerce Department's insistence that vulnerability research does not fall under Wassenaar, researchers say that's up for interpretation.
Government

US Proposes Tighter Export Rules For Computer Security Tools 126

Posted by timothy
from the we'd-like-to-inspect-that-package dept.
itwbennett writes: The U.S. Commerce Department has proposed tighter export rules for computer security tools and could prohibit the export of penetration testing tools without a license. The proposal would modify rules added to the Wassenaar Arrangement in 2013 that limit the export of technologies related to intrusion and traffic inspection. The definition of intrusion software would also encompass 'proprietary research on the vulnerabilities and exploitation of computers and network-capable devices,' the proposal said.
Security

Telstra Says Newly Acquired Pacnet Hacked, Customer Data Exposed 15

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-to-know-all-about-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Telstra’s Asian-based data center and undersea cable operator Pacnet has been hacked exposing many of the telco’s customers to a massive security breach. The company said it could not determine whether personal details of customers had been stolen, but it acknowledged the possibility. The Stack reports: "Telstra said that an unauthorized third party had been able to gain access to the Pacnet business management systems through a malicious software installed via a vulnerability on an SQL server. The hack had taken place just weeks before Telstra acquired the Asian internet service provider for $550mn on 16 April this year. The telecom company confirmed that it had not been aware of the hack when it signed the deal in December 2014."
Chrome

New Chrome Extension Uses Sound To Share URLs Between Devices 77

Posted by samzenpus
from the sound-of-malware dept.
itwbennett writes: Google Tone is an experimental feature that could be used to easily and instantly share browser pages, search results, videos and other pages among devices, according to Google Research. "The initial prototype used an efficient audio transmission scheme that sounded terrible, so we played it beyond the range of human hearing," researcher Alex Kauffmann and software engineer Boris Smus wrote in a post on the Google Research blog.
Security

How 1990s Encryption Backdoors Put Today's Internet In Jeopardy 42

Posted by samzenpus
from the grunge-net dept.
An anonymous reader writes: While debate swirls in Washington D.C. about new encryption laws, the consequences of the last crypto war is still being felt. Logjam vulnerabilities making headlines today is "a direct result of weakening cryptography legislation in the 1990s," researcher J. Alex Halderman said. "Thanks to Moore's law and improvements in cryptanalysis, the ability to break that crypto is something really anyone can do with open-source software. The backdoor might have seemed like a good idea at the time. Maybe the arguments 20 years ago convinced people this was going to be safe. History has shown otherwise. This is the second time in two months we've seen 90s era crypto blow up and put the safety of everyone on the internet in jeopardy."
Firefox

Adblock Plus Launches Adblock Browser: a Fork of Firefox For Android 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the unblocking-the-blocked-blocker dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Adblock Plus has launched Adblock Browser for Android. Currently in beta, the company's first browser was created by taking the open source Firefox for Android and including Adblock Plus out-of-the-box. The Firefox Sync functionality is disabled, as is the ability to use other addons. "Adblock Plus for Android got kicked out of Google Play along with other ad blocking apps in March 2013, because Google’s developer distribution agreement states apps cannot interfere with the functionality of other apps. Williams thus believes Adblock Browser “should be fine” as it only blocks ads that are shown as you browse the Web."
Networking

Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Solve a Unique Networking Issue? 384

Posted by timothy
from the that-seems-like-a-decent-way dept.
New submitter petro-tech writes: I work as a service technician, maintaining and repairing gas pumps and POS equipment. In my day to day activities, one that consumes a ton of time and is relatively regular is the process of upgrading the software on pumps. This is done by connecting to the pump via direct ethernet from my laptop, then running a manufacturer-provided program that connects to the device and pushes the new software. Some sites have 8+ pumps with 2 devices in each, and at 20-30 minutes apiece this can be quite time consuming. Unfortunately the devices are not actually on a network, and as such cannot be updated remotely, also since they are not on a network, they are all configured with the same IP address. Additionally the software doesn't allow you to specify the adapter to use. I would like to be able to get to a site, connect a cable to each pump, and load them all at the same time. The only way I can figure to accomplish this with the software we've been provided is to do this: Get a 16-port powered USB hub, with a usb-ethernet adaptor in each port; Set up 16 VM's with extremely stripped down XP running on each, with only one USB-ethernet adaptor assigned to each VM; Set XP to boot the application for loading software as its shell; and load each device that way at the same time. Is there a better way to accomplish this?
Encryption

Australian Law Could Criminalize the Teaching of Encryption 205

Posted by Soulskill
from the technophobes-writing-laws dept.
New submitter petherfile writes: According to Daniel Mathews, new laws passed in Australia (but not yet in effect) could criminalize the teaching of encryption. He explains how a ridiculously broad law could effectively make any encryption stronger than 512 bits criminal if your client is not Australian. He says, "In short, the DSGL casts an extremely wide net, potentially catching open source privacy software, information security research and education, and the entire computer security industry in its snare. Most ridiculous, though, are some badly flawed technicalities. As I have argued before, the specifications are so imprecise that they potentially include a little algorithm you learned at primary school called division. If so, then division has become a potential weapon, and your calculator (or smartphone, computer, or any electronic device) is a potential delivery system for it."