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Security

Exploit For Crashing Minecraft Servers Made Public 108

Posted by timothy
from the hey-fellas-door's-unlocked dept.
An anonymous reader writes "After nearly two years of waiting for Mojang to fix a security vulnerability that can be used to crash Minecraft servers, programmer Ammar Askar has released a proof of concept exploit for the flaw in the hopes that this will force them to do something about it. "Mojang is no longer a small indie company making a little indie game, their software is used by thousands of servers, hundreds of thousands people play on servers running their software at any given time. They have a responsibility to fix and properly work out problems like this," he noted." Here is Askar's own post on the exploit, and his frustration with the response he's gotten to disclosing it to the developers.
Microsoft

Microsoft Open Technologies Is Closing: Good Or Bad News For Open Source? 107

Posted by timothy
from the sea-change-or-see-no-change dept.
BrianFagioli writes When Microsoft Open Technologies was founded as a subsidiary of Microsoft — under Steve Ballmer's reign — many in the open source community hailed it as a major win, and it was. Today, however, the subsidiary is shutting down and being folded into Microsoft. While some will view this as a loss for open source, I disagree; Microsoft has evolved so much under Satya Nadella, that a separate subsidiary is simply no longer needed. Microsoft could easily be the world's biggest vendor of open source software, which is probably one reason some people don't like the term.
Microsoft

Microsoft's Role As Accuser In the Antitrust Suit Against Google 187

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-the-other-side dept.
HughPickens.com writes Danny Hakim reports at the NYT that as European antitrust regulators formally accuse Google of abusing its dominance, Microsoft is relishing playing a behind-the-scenes role of scold instead of victim. Microsoft has founded or funded a cottage industry of splinter groups to go after Google. The most prominent, the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace, or Icomp, has waged a relentless public relations campaign promoting grievances against Google. It conducted a study that suggested changes made by Google to appease regulators were largely window dressing. "Microsoft is doing its best to create problems for Google," says Manfred Weber, the chairman of the European People's Party, the center-right party that is the largest voting bloc in the European Parliament. "It's interesting. Ten years ago Microsoft was a big and strong company. Now they are the underdog."

According to Hakim, Microsoft and Google are the Cain and Abel of American technology, locked in the kind of struggle that often takes place when a new giant threatens an older one. Microsoft was frustrated after American regulators at the Federal Trade Commission didn't act on a similar antitrust investigation against Google in 2013, calling it a "missed opportunity." It has taken the fight to the state level, along with a number of other opponents of Google. Microsoft alleges that Google's anti-competitive practices include stopping Bing from indexing content on Google-owned YouTube; blocking Microsoft Windows smartphones from "operating properly" with YouTube; blocking access to content owned by book publishers; and limiting the flow of ad campaign information back to advertisers, making it more expensive to run ads with rivals. "Over the past year, a growing number of advertisers, publishers, and consumers have expressed to us their concerns about the search market in Europe," says Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel. "They've urged us to share our knowledge of the search market with competition officials."
Android

Cyanogen Partners With Microsoft To Replace Google Apps 175

Posted by Soulskill
from the unexpected-alliances dept.
Unknown Lamer writes: Microsoft and Cyanogen Inc have announced a partnership to bring Microsoft applications to Cyanogen OS. "Under the partnership, Cyanogen will integrate and distribute Microsoft's consumer apps and services across core categories, including productivity, messaging, utilities, and cloud-based services. As part of this collaboration, Microsoft will create native integrations on Cyanogen OS, enabling a powerful new class of experiences." Ars Technica comments, "If Cyanogen really wants to ship a Googleless Android, it will need to provide alternatives to Google's services, and this Microsoft deal is a small start. Microsoft can provide alternatives for Search (Bing), Google Drive (OneDrive and Office), and Gmail (Outlook). The real missing pieces are alternatives to Google Play, Google Maps, and Google Play Services."

Rather than distribute more proprietary services, how about ownCloud for Drive, K-9 Mail for Gmail, OsmAnd for Maps, and F-Droid for an app store? Mozilla and DuckDuckGo provide Free Software search providers for Android, too. With Google neglecting the Android Open Source Project and Cyanogen partnering with Microsoft, the future for Free Software Android as anything but a shell for proprietary software looks bleak.
Windows

Remote Code Execution Vulnerability Found In Windows HTTP Stack 118

Posted by Soulskill
from the another-day,-another-vuln dept.
jones_supa writes: A remote code execution vulnerability exists in the Windows HTTP stack that is caused when HTTP.SYS parses specially-crafted HTTP requests. An attacker who has successfully exploited this vulnerability could execute arbitrary code under the SYSTEM context. Details of the bug are withheld, but exploit code is floating around. Microsoft describes the issue in security bulletin MS15-034. An update (KB3042553) is already available for all supported editions of Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2. As a workaround, Microsoft offers disabling IIS kernel caching.
Businesses

How Mission Creep Killed a Gaming Studio 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-actually-about-duke-nukem-forever dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Over at Kotaku, there's an interesting story about the reported demise of Darkside Game Studios, a game-development firm that thought it finally had a shot at the big time only to collapse once its project requirements spun out of control. Darkside got a chance to show off its own stuff with a proposed remake of Phantom Dust, an action-strategy game that became something of a cult favorite. Microsoft, which offered Darkside the budget to make the game, had a very specific list of requirements for the actual gameplay. The problem, as Kotaku describes, is those requirements shifted after the project was well underway. Darkside needed more developers, artists, and other skilled tech pros to finish the game with its expanded requirements, but (anonymous sources claimed) Microsoft refused to offer up more money to actually hire the necessary people. As a result, the game's development imploded, reportedly followed by the studio. What's the lesson in all this? It's one of the oldest in the book: Escalating and unanticipated requirements, especially without added budget to meet those requirements, can have devastating effects on both a project and the larger software company.
Microsoft

Microsoft Starts Working On an LLVM-Based Compiler For .NET 125

Posted by timothy
from the spreading-like-bamboo dept.
An anonymous reader writes Are the days of Microsoft's proprietary compiler over? Microsoft has announced they've started work on a new .NET compiler using LLVM and targets their CoreCLR — any C# program written for the .NET core class libraries can now run on any OS where CoreCLR and LLVM are supported. Right now the compiler only supports JIT compilation but AOT is being worked on along with other features. The new Microsoft LLVM compiler is called LLILC and is MIT-licensed.
Education

US Dept. of Education Teams With Microsoft-Led Teach.org On Teacher Diversity 147

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-politically-correct-dept-lines-found dept.
theodp writes: Citing a new study that suggests academic achievement can benefit when children are taught by a teacher of their own race, the NY Times asks, Where Are the Teachers of Color? Towards that end, the Times reports that "Teach.org, a partnership between the Department of Education and several companies, teachers unions and other groups, is specifically targeting racial minorities for recruitment." Teach.org describes itself as a "public-private partnership led by Microsoft, State Farm and the U.S. Department of Education." To the consternation of some, the U.S. Dept. of Education delegated teacher recruitment to Microsoft in 2011. With its 2.2% African American/Black and 3.9% Latino/Hispanic tech workforce, who better to increase diversity than Microsoft, right?
Microsoft

Windows Remains Vulnerable To Serious 18-Year-Old SMB Security Flaw 171

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
Mark Wilson writes A serious security hole leaves millions of Windows users open to attack, making it possible to extract encrypted credentials from a target machine. Researchers at Cylance say the problem affects "any Windows PC, tablet or server" (including Windows 10) and is a slight progression of the Redirect to SMB attack discovered by Aaron Spangler way back in 1997. Redirect to SMB is essentially a man-in-the-middle attack which involves taking control of a network connection. As the name suggests, victims are then redirected to a malicious SMB server which can extract usernames, domains and passwords. Cylance also reports that software from companies such as Adobe, Oracle and Symantec — including security and antivirus tools — are affected.
Microsoft

Microsoft and Miele Team Collaborate To Cook Up an IoT Revolution 105

Posted by samzenpus
from the bake-me-a-cake dept.
Mark Wilson writes When people talk about the Internet of Things, there are often semi-joking references to fridges that know when you've run out of milk and ovens that know how to cook whatever you put in them. Forget the jokes; this is now a reality. We've already seen a generation of smart appliances, and Microsoft wants to be part of what happens next. At Hannover Messe today, Miele — of oven, vacuum cleaner and washing machine fame — announces it is working on a new breed of appliances based on Microsoft Azure Internet of Things (IoT) services What does this mean? Ultimately it means you'll be able to find a recipe online, have the ingredient list and preparation instructions sent to your mobile device, and your smart oven will be automatically configured with the correct settings.
Cellphones

The NSA Wants Tech Companies To Give It "Front Door" Access To Encrypted Data 212

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-us-in dept.
An anonymous reader writes The National Security Agency is embroiled in a battle with tech companies over access to encrypted data that would allow it to spy (more easily) on millions of Americans and international citizens. Last month, companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple urged the Obama administration to put an end to the NSA's bulk collection of metadata. "National Security Agency officials are considering a range of options to ensure their surveillance efforts aren't stymied by the growing use of encryption, particularly in smartphones. Key among the solutions, according to The Washington Post, might be a requirement that technology companies create a digital key that can open any locked device to obtain text messages or other content, but divide the key into pieces so no one group could use it without the cooperation of other parties."
Microsoft

Microsoft Pushes For Public Education Funding While Avoiding State Taxes 173

Posted by Soulskill
from the cognitive-dissonance-provides-shareholder-value dept.
theodp writes: After stressing how important the funding of Washington State education — particularly CS Ed — is to Microsoft, company general counsel Brad Smith encountered one of those awkward interview moments (audio at 28:25). GeekWire Radio: "So, would you ever consider ending that practice [ducking WA taxes by routing software licensing royalties through Nevada-based Microsoft Licensing, GP] in Nevada [to help improve WA education]?" Smith: "I think there are better ways for us to address the state's needs than that kind of step." Back in 2010, Smith, Steve Ballmer, and Microsoft Corporation joined forces to defeat Proposition I-1098, apparently deciding there were better ways to address the state's needs than a progressive income tax.
Security

LG Split Screen Software Compromises System Security 187

Posted by Soulskill
from the low-grade dept.
jones_supa writes: The Korean electronics company LG ships a split screen tool with their ultra wide displays. It allows users to slice the Windows desktop into multiple segments. However, installing the software seriously compromises security of the particular workstation. The developers required administrator access for the software, but apparently they hacked their way out. The installer silently disables User Account Control, and enables a policy to start all applications as Administrator. In the article there is also a video presentation of the setup procedure. It is safe to say that no one should be running this software in its current form.
Communications

Microsoft: Feds Are 'Rewriting' the Law To Obtain Emails Overseas 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-out-of-my-inbox dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Communications Privacy Act was written in 1986. It's incredibly outdated, yet it still governs many internet-related rights for U.S. citizens. Microsoft has now challenged Congress to update the legislation for how online communications work in 2015. The company is currently embroiled in a legal battle with the government over a court order to release emails stored in a foreign country to U.S. authorities. In a new legal brief (PDF), Microsoft says, "For an argument that purports to rest on the 'explicit text of the statute,' the Government rewrites an awful lot of it. Congress never intended to reach, nor even anticipated, private communications stored in a foreign country when it enacted [the ECPA]." In an accompanying blog post, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith wrote, "Until U.S. law is rewritten, we believe that the court in our case should honor well-established precedents that limit the government's reach from extending beyond U.S. borders. ... To the contrary, it is clear Congress's intent was to ensure that your digital information is afforded the same legal protections as your physical documents and correspondence, a principle we at Microsoft believe should be preserved."
Intel

Intel's Core M Performance Is Erratic Between Devices 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the bring-back-the-turbo-button dept.
An anonymous reader writes: AnandTech noticed some odd performance disparities with Intel's Core M CPU, a chip designed to bring high-powered processing to thin, fan-less devices. After investigating, they found that how OEMs build their laptops and tablets has a far greater effect on Core M performance than it does for other chips. "When an OEM designs a device for Core M, or any SoC for that matter, they have to consider construction and industrial design as well as overriding performance. ... This, broadly speaking, gives the OEM control over several components that are out of the hands of the processor designers. Screen size, thickness, industrial design, and skin temperature all have their limits, and adjusting those knobs opens the door to slower or faster Core M units, depending on what the company decides to target.

In the Core M units that we have tested at AnandTech so far this year, we have seen a variety of implementations with and without fans and in a variety of form factors. But the critical point of all of this comes down to how the OEM defines the SoC/skin temperature limitations of the device, and this ends up being why the low-end Core M-5Y10 can beat the high-end Core M-5Y71, and is a poignant part of our tests. Simply put, if the system with 5Y10 has a higher SoC/skin temperature, it can stay in its turbo mode for longer and can end up outperforming a 5Y71, leading to some of the unusual results we've seen so far."
Displays

Virtual Desktop Makes Windows OS Oculus Rift-Capable 47

Posted by timothy
from the with-a-little-help dept.
An anonymous reader writes Virtual Desktop is a free program that makes the Windows operating system compatible with the Oculus Rift VR headset. To the surprise of some, plugging the Oculus Rift into a computer doesn't result in a native view of the OS, meaning that users have to put on and take off the headset as they move from one VR-specific app to the next. If you want to use typical Windows programs—like Photoshop, Firefox, or Microsoft Office—no dice! That's where Virtual Desktop comes in, enabling the entire Windows desktop, and any application that can run on it, to be seen through the Oculus Rift. It also works as a bridge between VR-specific applications, allowing you to move from one to the next without ever taking off the headset. The latest version released today includes voice commands for launching VR games, global monitor mirroring, performance improvements, and is built against the latest Oculus Rift SDK.
Education

Senate Draft of No Child Left Behind Act Draft Makes CS a 'Core' Subject 216

Posted by timothy
from the your-best-interests-at-heart dept.
theodp (442580) writes "If at first you don't succeed, lobby, lobby again. That's a lesson to be learned from Microsoft and Google, who in 2010 launched advocacy coalition Computing in the Core, which aimed "to strengthen K-12 computer science education and ensure that computer science is one of the core academic subjects that prepares students for jobs in our digital society." In 2013, Computing in the Core "merged" with Code.org, a new nonprofit led by the next door neighbor of Microsoft's General Counsel and funded by wealthy tech execs and their companies. When Code.org 'taught President Obama to code' in a widely-publicized White House event last December, visitor records indicate that Google, Microsoft, and Code.org execs had a sitdown immediately afterwards with the head of the NSF, and a Microsoft lobbyist in attendance returned to the White House the next day with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and General Counsel Brad Smith (who also sits on Code.org's Board) in tow. Looks like all of that hard work may finally pay off. Education Week reports that computer science has been quietly added to the list of disciplines defined as 'core academic subjects' in the Senate draft of the rewritten No Child Left Behind Act, a status that opens the doors to a number of funding opportunities. After expressing concern that his teenage daughters hadn't taken to coding the way he'd like, President Obama added, "I think they got started a little bit late. Part of what you want to do is introduce this with the ABCs and the colors." So, don't be too surprised if your little ones are soon focusing on the four R's — reading, 'riting, 'rithmetic, and Rapunzel — in school!"
Windows

Microsoft Creates a Docker-Like Container For Windows 95

Posted by samzenpus
from the imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery dept.
angry tapir writes Hoping to build on the success of Docker-based Linux containers, Microsoft has developed a container technology to run on its Windows Server operating system. The Windows Server Container can be used to package an application so it can be easily moved across different servers. It uses a similar approach to Docker's, in that all the containers running on a single server all share the same operating system kernel, making them smaller and more responsive than standard virtual machines.
Businesses

Patent Case Could Shift Power Balance In Tech Industry 83

Posted by samzenpus
from the makers-and-takers dept.
An anonymous reader writes A lawsuit between Apple and Google could drastically change the power balance between patent holders and device makers. "The dispute centers on so-called standard-essential patents, which cover technology that is included in industry-wide technology standards. Since others have to use the technology if they want their own products to meet an industry standard, the companies that submit their patents for approval by standards bodies are required to license them out on 'reasonable and non-discriminatory',(paywalled) or RAND, terms." If Apple wins, the understanding of what fees are RAND may decrease by at least an order of magnitude.
Earth

Obama Says Climate Change Is Harming Americans' Health 304

Posted by Soulskill
from the mexicans-and-canadians-sure-dodged-a-bullet dept.
HughPickens.com writes: The Washington Post reports on new comments from President Obama, who says global warming isn't just affecting the weather — it's harming Americans' health. He has announced steps government and businesses will take to better understand and deal with the problem. Obama said hazards of the changing climate include wildfires sending more pollution into the air, allergy seasons growing longer, and rising cases of insect-borne diseases. "We've got to do better in protecting our vulnerable families," said Obama. "You can't cordon yourself off from air."

Speaking at Howard University Medical School, Obama announced commitments from Google, Microsoft and others to help the nation's health system prepare for a warmer, more erratic climate. Google has promised to donate 10 million hours of advanced computing time on new tools, including risk maps and early warnings for things like wildfires and oil flares using the Google Earth Engine platform, the White House said. Google's camera cars that gather photos for its "Street View" function will start measuring methane emissions and natural gas leaks in some cities this year. Microsoft's research arm will develop a prototype for drones that can collect large quantities of mosquitoes, then digitally analyze their genes and pathogens. The goal is to create a system that could provide early warnings about infectious diseases that could break out if climate change worsens.