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Databases

Five Years Later, Legal Megaupload Data Is Still Trapped On Dead Servers (arstechnica.com) 80

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: It's been more than five years since the government accused Megaupload and its founder Kim Dotcom of criminal copyright infringement. While Dotcom himself was arrested in New Zealand, U.S. government agents executed search warrants and grabbed a group of more than 1,000 servers owned by Carpathia Hosting. That meant that a lot of users with gigabytes of perfectly legal content lost access to it. Two months after the Dotcom raid and arrest, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a motion in court asking to get back data belonging to one of those users, Kyle Goodwin, whom the EFF took on as a client. Years have passed. The U.S. criminal prosecution of Dotcom and other Megaupload executives is on hold while New Zealand continues with years of extradition hearings. Meanwhile, Carpathia's servers were powered down and are kept in storage by QTS Realty Trust, which acquired Carpathia in 2015. Now the EFF has taken the extraordinary step of asking an appeals court to step in and effectively force the hand of the district court judge. Yesterday, Goodwin's lawyers filed a petition for a writ of mandamus (PDF) with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which oversees Virginia federal courts. "We've been asking the court for help since 2012," said EFF attorney Mitch Stolz in a statement about the petition. "It's deeply unfair for him to still be in limbo after all this time."
Bitcoin

BitTorrent Inventor Bram Cohen Will Start His Own Cryptocurrency (torrentfreak.com) 102

Bram Cohen, the creator of BitTorrent, has showed deep interest in cryptocurrency in the past, and now it looks like he is going to start his own. From a report: Without going into technical details, Cohen believes that Bitcoin is wasteful. He suggests that a cryptocurrency that pins the mining value on storage space rather than processor time will be superior. In an interview with TorrentFreak's Steal This Show, Cohen revealed that his interest in cryptocurrencies is not merely abstract. It will be his core focus in the near future. "My proposal isn't really to do something to BitCoin. It really has to be a new currency," Cohen says. "I'm going to make a cryptocurrency company. That's my plan." By focusing on a storage based solution, BitTorrent's inventor also hopes to address other Bitcoin flaws, such as the 51% attack. "Sometimes people have this misapprehension that Bitcoin is a democracy. No Bitcoin is not a democracy; it's called a 51% attack for a reason. That's not a majority of the vote, that's not how Bitcoin works."
Data Storage

Intel Launches Optane Memory That Makes Standard Hard Drives Perform Like SSDs (hothardware.com) 144

MojoKid writes: Intel has officially launched its Optane Memory line of Solid State Drives today, lifting embargo on performance benchmark results as well. Optane Memory is designed to accelerate the storage subsystem on compatible machines, to improve transfer speeds, and reduce latency. It is among the first products to leverage 3D XPoint memory technology that was co-developed by Intel and Micron, offering many of the same properties as NAND flash memory, but with higher endurance and certain performance characteristics that are similar to DRAM. The SSD can be paired to the boot drive in a system, regardless of the capacity or drive type, though Optane Memory will most commonly be linked to slower hard drives. Optane Memory is used as a high-speed repository, as usage patterns on the hard drive are monitored and the most frequently accessed bits of data are copied from the boot drive to the Optane SSD. Since the SSD is used as a cache, it is not presented to the end-user as a separate volume and works transparently in the background. Paired with an inexpensive SATA hard drive, general system performance is more in line with an NVMe SSD. In benchmark testing, Intel Optane Memory delivers a dramatic lift in overall system performance. Boot times, application load time, file searches, and overall system responsiveness are improved significantly. Setting up Intel Optane Memory is also quick and easy with "set it and forget it" type of solution. Optane Memory modules will hit retail this week in 16GB and 32GB capacities, at $44 and $77, respectively.
Botnet

Developer of BrickerBot Malware Claims He Destroyed Over Two Million Devices (bleepingcomputer.com) 88

An anonymous reader writes: In an interview today, the author of BrickerBot, a malware that bricks IoT and networking devices, claimed he destroyed over 2 million devices, but he never intended to do so in the first place. His intentions were to fight the rising number of IoT botnets that were used to launch DDoS attacks last year, such as Gafgyt and Mirai. He says he created BrickerBot with 84 routines that try to secure devices so they can't be taken over by Mirai and other malware. Nevertheless, he realized that some devices are so badly designed that he could never protect them. He says that for these, he created a "Plan B," which meant deleting the device's storage, effectively bricking the device. His identity was revealed after a reporter received an anonymous tip about a HackForum users claiming he was destroying IoT devices since last November, just after BrickerBot appeared. When contacted, BrickerBot's author revealed that the malware is a personal project which he calls "Internet Chemotherapy" and he's "the doctor" who will kill all the cancerous unsecured IoT devices.
Cloud

Leaked Document Sheds Light On Microsoft's Chromebook Rival (windowscentral.com) 91

Microsoft has announced plans to host an event next month where it is expected to unveil Windows 10 Cloud operating system. Microsoft will be positioning the new OS as a competitor to Chrome OS, according to several reports. Windows Central has obtained an internal document which sheds light on the kind of devices that will be running Windows 10 Cloud. The hardware requirement that Microsoft has set for third-party OEMs is as follows: 1. Quad-core (Celeron or better) processor.
2. 4GB of RAM.
3. 32GB of storage (64GB for 64-bit). 4. A battery larger than 40 WHr.
5. Fast eMMC or solid state drive (SSD) for storage technology.
6. Pen and touch (optional).
The report adds that Microsoft wants these laptops to offer over 10-hour of battery life, and the "cold boot" should not take longer than 20 seconds.
Windows

File System Improvements To the Windows Subsystem for Linux (microsoft.com) 109

An anonymous reader shares a new article published on MSDN: In the latest Windows Insider build, the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) now allows you to manually mount Windows drives using the DrvFs file system. Previously, WSL would automatically mount all fixed NTFS drives when you launch Bash, but there was no support for mounting additional storage like removable drives or network locations. Now, not only can you manually mount any drives on your system, we've also added support for other file systems such as FAT, as well as mounting network locations. This enables you to access any drive, including removable USB sticks or CDs, and any network location you can reach in Windows all from within WSL.
Transportation

Toyota Unveils Plan For Hydrogen Powered Semi Truck (rdmag.com) 161

New submitter omaha393 quotes a report from R&D Magazine: Toyota announced a new initiative on Wednesday aimed at advancing its work in vehicles powered by alternative energy sources. The automaker unveiled Project Portal, which is a novel hydrogen fuel cell system designed for heavy duty truck use at the Port of Los Angeles. A proof-of-concept truck powered by this fuel cell will be part of a feasibility study held at the Port this summer, with the goal of examining the potential of this technology in heavy-duty applications. The test vehicle will produce more than 670 horsepower and 1,325 pound feet of torque from two of these novel fuel cell stacks along with a 12kWh battery. Overall, the combined weight capacity is 80,000 pounds that will be carried over 200 miles.

omaha393 adds: "While hydrogen fuel has been criticized due to high cost of production and safety concerns, recent advances in catalysis and solid storage systems have made the prospect of hydrogen fuel an attractive commercial prospect for the future."

Businesses

Cylance Accused of Distributing Fake Malware Samples To Customers To Close Deals (arstechnica.com) 32

New submitter nyman19 writes: Ars Technica reports how security vendor Cylance has been distributing non-functioning malware samples to prospective customers in order to "close the sale[s] by providing files that other products wouldn't detect" According to the report: "A systems engineer at a large company was evaluating security software products when he discovered something suspicious. One of the vendors [Cylance] had provided a set of malware samples to test -- 48 files in an archive stored in the vendor's Box cloud storage account. The vendor providing those samples was Cylance, the information security company behind Protect, a 'next generation' endpoint protection system built on machine learning. In testing, Protect identified all 48 of the samples as malicious, while competing products flagged most but not all of them. Curious, the engineer took a closer look at the files in question -- and found that seven weren't malware at all."
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Troll With 'Stupid Patent' Sues EFF. EFF Sues Them Back (arstechnica.com) 68

"The Electronic Frontier Foundation has sued an Australian company that it previously dubbed as a 'classic patent troll' in a June 2016 blog post entitled: Stupid Patent of the Month: Storage Cabinets on a Computer." An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica: Last year, that company, Global Equity Management (SA) Pty. Ltd. (GEMSA), managed to get an Australian court to order EFF to remove its post -- but EFF did not comply. In January 2017, Pasha Mehr, an attorney representing GEMSA, further demanded that the article be removed and that EFF pay $750,000. EFF still did not comply. The new lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco on Wednesday, asks that the American court declare the Australian ruling unenforceable in the U.S.
GEMSA's attorneys reportedly threatened to have the EFF's post de-indexed from search engine listings -- on the basis of the Australian court order -- so now the EFF "seeks a court order declaring the Australian injunction 'repugnant' to the U.S. Constitution and unenforceable in the United States."

The Register reports that GEMSA has already sued 37 companies, "including big-name tech companies Airbnb, Uber, Netflix, Spotify, and eBay. In each case, GEMSA accused the company's website design of somehow trampling on the GUI patent without permission." But things were different after the EFF's article, according to Courthouse News. "GEMSA said the article made it harder to enforce its patents in the United States, citing its legal opponents' 'reduced interest in pursuing pre-trial settlement negotiations.'"
AMD

G.SKILL Hits 4500MHz With All-New Trident Z DDR4-4333MHz 16GB Memory Kit (betanews.com) 72

BrianFagioli quotes a report from BetaNews: G.SKILL is a respected RAM maker, and the company is constantly pushing the envelope. Today, it announced a new DDR4-4333MHz 16GB Memory Kit (2x8GB) -- the first ever. While that alone is very cool, the company is bragging about what it accomplished with it -- an overclock that hit 4500MHz using an Intel Core i5-7600K processor paired with an ASUS ROG Maximus IX Apex motherboard. Pricing and availability for this kit is unknown at this time. With that said, it will probably be quite expensive. What we do know, however, its that the insane overclock to 4500MHz is for real. This was achieved using timings of CL19-19-19-39 in dual channel, which resulted in read/write of 55/65GB/s and copy speed of 52GB/s.
The Almighty Buck

Tesla Tops GM by Market Value as Investors See Musk as Future (bloomberg.com) 289

Tesla became the largest U.S. auto maker by market value on Monday, overtaking General Motors -- a feat that would have seemed highly improbable 13 years ago when the electric-car maker first began tinkering with the idea of making a sports car. From a report: Tesla climbed as much as 3.4 percent in early Monday trading, boosting its market capitalization to about $51 billion. The company was valued at about $1.7 billion more than GM as of 9:35 a.m. in New York. The turnabout shows the extent to which investors have bought into Musk's vision that electric vehicles will eventually rule the road. While GM has beat Tesla to market with a plug-in Chevrolet Bolt with a price and range similar to what Musk has promised for his Model 3 sedan coming later this year, the more than century-old company has failed to match the enthusiasm drummed up by its much smaller and rarely profitable U.S. peer. No matter, say investors who like the stock. Tesla is a technology player with the ability to dominate a market for electric cars and energy storage. To those same investors, GM and Ford are headed for a slowdown in car sales that will erode profits. "Is it fair? No, it isn't fair," Maryann Keller, an auto-industry consultant in Stamford, Connecticut, said of GM ceding the market-cap crown. "Even if Tesla turns a profit, they will eventually have to make enough to justify this valuation."
Data Storage

New 'Spray-On' Memory Could Turn Everyday Items Into Digital Storage Devices (duke.edu) 38

Researchers at Duke University have developed "spray-on" digital memory using only an aerosol jet printer and nanoparticle inks. An anonymous reader quotes Duke Today: The device, which is analogous to a 4-bit flash drive, is the first fully-printed digital memory that would be suitable for practical use in simple electronics such as environmental sensors or RFID tags. And because it is jet-printed at relatively low temperatures, it could be used to build programmable electronic devices on bendable materials like paper, plastic or fabric...

The new material, made of silica-coated copper nanowires encased in a polymer matrix, encodes information not in states of charge but instead in states of resistance. By applying a small voltage, it can be switched between a state of high resistance, which stops electric current, and a state of low resistance, which allows current to flow. And, unlike silicon, the nanowires and the polymer can be dissolved in methanol, creating a liquid that can be sprayed through the nozzle of a printer.

Amazingly, its write speed is three microseconds, "rivaling the speed of flash drives." The information can be re-written many times, and the stored data can last for up to 10 years.
Government

Senate Confirms Neil Gorsuch To Supreme Court (washingtonpost.com) 450

halfEvilTech quotes a report from Washington Post: The U.S. Senate confirmed Neil M. Gorsuch to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday. On a vote of 54 to 45, senators confirmed Gorsuch, 49, a Denver-based judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. He will become the 113th person to serve on the Supreme Court and is scheduled to be sworn in Monday. Gorsuch's confirmation was the result of a rule change in the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used the power of his position to change the rules of the Senate to lower the threshold on Supreme Court nominations to end debate from 60 to 51 votes. Therefore, "all presidential nominees for executive branch positions and the federal courts need only a simple majority vote to be confirmed by senators," reports Washington Post.

It is unclear as to what exactly Gorsuch's confirmation means for the tech industry. However, it is certain that Gorsuch will "face cases that demand a solid command of the complex issues digital technology raises, from copyright and privacy to intellectual property rights and data storage," writes Issie Lapowsky via Wired.
Botnet

New Destructive Malware Intentionally Bricks IoT Devices (bleepingcomputer.com) 163

An anonymous reader writes: "A new malware strain called BrickerBot is intentionally bricking Internet of Things (IoT) devices around the world by corrupting their flash storage capability and reconfiguring kernel parameters. The malware spreads by launching brute-force attacks on IoT (BusyBox-based) devices with open Telnet ports. After BrickerBot attacks, device owners often have to reinstall the device's firmware, or in some cases, replace the device entirely. Attacks started on March 20, and two versions have been seen. One malware strain launches attacks from hijacked Ubiquiti devices, while the second, more advanced, is hidden behind Tor exit nodes. Several security researchers believe this is the work of an internet vigilante fed up with the amount of insecure IoT devices connected to the internet and used for DDoS attacks. "Wow. That's pretty nasty," said Cybereason security researcher Amit Serper after Bleeping Computer showed him Radware's security alert. "They're just bricking it for the sake of bricking it. [They're] deliberately destroying the device."
United States

Taser Offers Free Body Cameras To All US Police (arstechnica.com) 82

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Taser, the company whose electronic stun guns have become a household name, is now offering a groundbreaking deal to all American law enforcement: free body cameras and a year's worth of access to the company's cloud storage service, Evidence.com. In addition, on Wednesday, the company also announced that it would be changing its name to "Axon" to reflect the company's flagship body camera product. Right now, Axon is the single largest vendor of body cameras in America. It vastly outsells smaller competitors, including VieVu and Digital Ally -- the company has profited $90 million from 2012 through 2016. If the move is successful, Axon could quickly crowd out its rivals entirely. In recent years, federal dollars went to police agencies both big (Los Angeles) and small (Village of Spring Valley, New York), encouraging the purchase of body-worn cameras. However, while cameras are rapidly spreading across America, they are still not ubiquitous yet. Axon wants to change that. "Only 20 percent [of cops] have a camera," Rick Smith, the company's CEO, told Ars. "Eighty percent are going out with a gun and no camera. We only need 20- to 30-percent conversion to make it profitable," he added. "We expect 80 percent to become customers." "Our belief is that a body camera is to a cop what a smartphone is to a civilian," Smith said. "Cops spend about two-thirds of their time doing paperwork. We believe, within 10 years, we can automate police reporting. We can effectively triple the world's police force." The offer is only available to American law enforcement, but Smith said the company would consider foreign agencies on a case-by-case basis.
Data Storage

'Arctic World Archive' Will Keep the World's Data Safe In an Arctic Mineshaft (theverge.com) 71

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Norway's famous doomsday seed vault is getting a new neighbor. It's called the Arctic World Archive, and it aims to do for data what the Svalbard Global Seed Vault has done for crop samples -- provide a remote, impregnable home in the Arctic permafrost, safe from threats like natural disaster and global conflicts. But while the Global Seed Vault is (partially) funded by charities who want to preserve global crop diversity, the World Archive is a for-profit business, created by Norwegian tech company Piql and Norway's state mining company SNSK. The Archive was opened on March 27th this year, with the first customers -- the governments of Brazil, Mexico, and Norway -- depositing copies of various historical documents in the vault. Data is stored in the World Archive on optical film specially developed for the task by Piql. (And, yes, the company name is a pun on the word pickle, as in preserving-in-vinegar.) The company started life in 2002 making video formats that bridged analog film and digital media, but as the world went fully digital it adapted its technology for the task of long-term storage. As Piql founder Rune Bjerkestrand tells The Verge: "Film is an optical medium, so what we do is, we take files of any kind of data -- documents, PDFs, JPGs, TIFFs -- and we convert that into big, high-density QR codes. Our QR codes are massive, and very high resolution; we use greyscale to get more data into every code. And in this way we convert a visual storage medium, film, into a digital one." Once data is imprinted on film, the reels are stored in a converted mineshaft in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. The mineshaft (different to the one used by the Global Seed Vault) was originally operated by SNSK for the mining of coal, but was abandoned in 1995. The vault is 300 meters below the ground and impervious to both nuclear attacks and EMPs. Piql claims its proprietary film format will store data safely for at least 500 years, and maybe as long as 1,000 years, with the assistance of the mine's climate.
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Will Ship A Pro iMac Later This Year, It Won't Feature Touchscreen (buzzfeed.com) 163

Apple's expected update to its iMac line will arrive later this year with some previously unexpected additions: pro models. From a report: "We have big plans for the iMac," Phil Schiller, Apple's SVP of worldwide marketing, said during a recent reporter roundtable at the company's Machine Shop hardware prototyping lab. "We're going to begin making configurations of iMac specifically with the pro customer in mind." Just what those configurations will entail, Apple won't yet say. Nor will it comment on the possibility of an iMac Pro moniker for the more powerful machines in the lineup. Company executives are, however, quite happy to confirm a feature the pro iMac will not have: touchscreen. "No," Schiller said when asked if Apple would consider building such a thing. "Touch doesn't even register on the list of things pro users are interested in talking about. They're interested in things like performance and storage and expandability."
Data Storage

Norway's Doomsday Vault Will Now Store and Protect the World's Data (wired.co.uk) 84

Doomsday may be closer than ever, but thanks to the Arctic World Archive, at least your data could survive the looming apocalypse. From a report: Norway is already the home to the Global Seed Vault, a frozen ark for 1.5 million seeds to avoid their extinction, and now the Arctic World Archive aims to do the same for your data -- in the same disused mine in the same mountain on the island of Svalbard, famous for its polar bear population. Run by a small Norwegian archiving company called Piql, the World Arctic Archive will store key documents, books and other files on photosensitive film held in protective boxes, a technique Piql says it's tested to survive for at least 500 years and believes will last for 1,000. That longevity is helped by the storage location. More on this here.
Data Storage

Next-Generation DDR5 RAM Will Double the Speed of DDR4 In 2018 (arstechnica.com) 77

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: You may have just upgraded your computer to use DDR4 recently or you may still be using DDR3, but in either case, nothing stays new forever. JEDEC, the organization in charge of defining new standards for computer memory, says that it will be demoing the next-generation DDR5 standard in June of this year and finalizing the standard sometime in 2018. DDR5 promises double the memory bandwidth and density of DDR4, and JEDEC says it will also be more power-efficient, though the organization didn't release any specific numbers or targets. Like DDR4 back when it was announced, it will still be several years before any of us have DDR5 RAM in our systems. That's partly because the memory controllers in processors and SoCs need to be updated to support DDR5, and these chips normally take two or three years to design from start to finish. DDR4 RAM was finalized in 2012, but it didn't begin to go mainstream until 2015 when consumer processors from Intel and others added support for it. DDR5 has no relation to GDDR5, a separate decade-old memory standard used for graphics cards and game consoles.

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