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KickassTorrents Lawyer: 'Torrent Sites Do Not Violate Criminal Copyright Laws' ( 78

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Lawyers representing Artem Vaulin have filed their formal legal response to prosecutors' allegations of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, among other charges. Vaulin is the alleged head of KickassTorrents (KAT). KAT was the world's largest BitTorrent distribution site before it was shuttered by authorities earlier this year. Vaulin was arrested in Poland, where he now awaits extradition to the United States. "Vaulin is charged with running today's most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials," Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said in a July 2016 statement. The defense's new 22-page court filing largely relies on the argument that there is no such thing as secondary criminal copyright infringement. While secondary copyright infringement as a matter of civil liability was upheld by the Supreme Court in MGM v. Grokster in 2005, Vaulin and his associates have been charged criminally. "The fundamental flaw in the government's untenable theory of prosecution is that there is no copyright protection for such torrent file instructions and addresses," [the brief's author, Ira Rothken,] argued in his Monday motion to dismiss the charges against Vaulin. "Therefore, given the lack of direct willful copyright infringement, torrent sites do not violate criminal copyright laws." "The extradition procedures have formally been started by the US in Poland," Rothken told Ars. "We are in a submissions or briefing period, and our Polish team is opposing extradition." Rothken also said that he has yet to be allowed to meet or speak directly with his client. For now, Rothken has been required to communicate via his Polish counterpart, Alek Kowzan. "Maybe they are afraid that Artem's extradition defense will be enhanced if American lawyers can assist in defending against the US extradition," Rothken added. No hearings before US District Judge John Z. Lee have been set.

Baby Boomers Don't Have a Stronger Work Ethic Than Later Generations, Says Study ( 326

A team of U.S. researchers from Wayne State University in Detroit have published research in Springer's Journal of Business and Psychology that dispels the popular belief that baby boomers have a greater work ethic than people born a decade or two later. Science Daily reports: The economic success of the United States and Europe around the turn of the 20th to the 21st century is often ascribed to the so-called Protestant work ethic of members of the baby boomer generation born between 1946 and 1964. They are said to place work central in their lives, to avoid wasting time and to be ethical in their dealings with others. Their work ethic is also associated with greater job satisfaction and performance, conscientiousness, greater commitment to the organization they belong to and little time for social loafing. The media and academia often suggest that baby boomers endorse higher levels of work ethic than the younger so-called Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) and Millennials (born between 1981 and 1999). [Keith Zabel, the lead U.S. researcher, and his team] compiled a dataset of all published studies that have ever used a U.S. sample to measure and report on the Protestant work ethic. Studies included in the meta-analysis had to mention the average age of the people surveyed. In all, 77 studies and 105 different measures of work ethic were examined using an analysis method stretching over three phases, each phase offered more precise measurement of generational cohorts. The analysis found no differences in the work ethic of different generations. These findings support other studies that found no difference in the work ethics of different generations when considering different variables, such as the hours they work or their commitment to family and work. Zabel's team did however note a higher work ethic in studies that contained the response of employees working in industry rather than of students.
United States

Sean Parker Contributes $9 Million As States Push To Legalize Marijuana ( 255

Sean Parker has now donated nearly $9 million in his effort to legalize marijuana in California. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Billboard: Whether it's founding Napster, guiding Facebook or investing in Spotify, Sean Parker has developed a reputation for pushing change forward, and now he's at the forefront of California's marijuana legalization movement... [A] competing proposal from the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform was folded into Parker's, making his the leading ballot measure, by default, for 2016 in a state with the largest medical marijuana market in the country.
The U.S currently has a hodgepodge of legislation, with marijuana entirely legal only in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, as well as in the District of Columbia, and in individual cities in Michigan and Maine. But with five more states now voting on legalization, pro-marijuana campaign ads are being broadcast in Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, California and Arizona. ("You decide who wins -- criminals and cartels, or Arizona schools?") And meanwhile, Slashdot reader schwit1 has identified one voter who's definitely opposing police efforts to hunt down marijuana growers: All that remains of the solitary marijuana plant an 81-year-old grandmother had been growing behind her South Amherst home is a stump and a ragged hole in the ground... Tucked away in a raspberry patch and separated by a fence from any neighbors, the [medicinal] plant was nearly ready for harvest when a military-style helicopter and police descended on Sept. 21...

Apes Can Guess What Others Are Thinking -- Just Like Humans, Study Finds ( 66

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Apes have a human-like ability to guess what others are thinking, even in cases when someone holds a mistaken belief, according to research that supports the view that other primates can empathize and have complex inner lives. The findings, in chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans, are the first to clearly demonstrate that apes can predict another's beliefs -- even when they know that presumption is false. In a fresh take on a classic psychology experiment, the apes were able to correctly anticipate that someone would look for a hidden item in a specific location, even if the apes knew that the item was no longer there. The ability to predict that someone holds a mistaken belief -- which psychologists refer to as a "theory of mind" -- is seen as a milestone in cognitive development that children normally acquire by the age of five. The findings overturn the view that the ability to place oneself in another's shoes is uniquely human. Krupenye and Fumihiro Kano, a comparative psychologist at Kyoto University who co-led the study, re-examined the question using a creative approach that involved showing the apes videos of a capering actor dressed in a King Kong suit. The video features an actor dressed as King Kong, who hits a man holding a long pole before darting under one of two haystacks while the human looks on. In some scenarios, the King Kong character switches haystack while the human disappears out of view behind a door. The man then reappears and smacks the haystack he thinks his assailant is hidden under -- presumably to get his own back. By using eye-tracking technology, the scientists showed that 17 out of 22 apes tested switched their gaze to show they had correctly anticipated when the man would target the wrong haystack. The findings were published on Thursday in the journal Science.

Splunk CTO Urges Collaboration Against Cyberattacks - And 'Shapeshifting' Networks ( 88

"The cost of cyber attacks is 1/10th to 1/100th the cost of cyber defense," says the CTO of Splunk -- because the labor is cheap, the tools are free, and the resources are stolen. "He says what's needed to bring down the cost of defense is collaboration between the public sector, academia and private industry...the space race for this generation," reports Slashdot reader davidmwilliams.

Splunk CTO Snehal Antani suggests earlier "shift left" code testing and continuous delivery, plus a wider use of security analytics. But he also suggests a moving target defense "in which a shapeshifting network can prevent reconnaissance attacks" with software defined networks using virtual IP addresses that would change every 10 seconds. "This disrupts reconnaissance attacks because a specific IP address may be a Windows box one moment, a Linux box another, a mainframe another."

Revolutionary Ion Thruster To Be Tested On International Space Station ( 132

Three Australian researchers have developed "an ion thruster that could replace the current chemical-based rocket propulsion technology, which requires huge volumes of fuel to be loaded onto a spacecraft." Slashdot reader theweatherelectric shares this article from the ABC News: An Australian-designed rocket propulsion system is heading to the International Space Station for a year-long experiment that ultimately could revolutionize space travel. The technology could be used to power a return trip to Mars without refuelling, and use recycled space junk for the fuel... It will be placed in a module outside the ISS, powered, as Dr Neumann describes, by an extension cord from the station. "What we'll be doing with our system is running it for as long as we can, hopefully for the entire year on the space station to measure how much force it's producing for how long."
In the early 2000s "it was basically a machine the size of a fist that spat ions from a very hot plasma ball through a magnetic nozzle at a very high velocity," and the researchers are now hoping to achieve the same effect by recycling the magnesium in space junk.

Commodore C64 Survives Over 25 Years Balancing Drive Shafts In Auto Repair Shop ( 290

MojoKid writes: One common gripe in the twenty-first century is that nothing is built to last anymore. Even complex, expensive computers seem to have a relatively short shelf-life nowadays. However, one computer in a small auto repair shop in Gdansk, Poland has survived for the last twenty-five years against all odds. The computer in question here is a Commodore C64 that has been balancing driveshafts non-stop for a quarter of a century. The C64C looks like it would fit right in with a scene from Fallout 4 and has even survived a nasty flood. This Commodore 64 contains a few homemade aspects, however. The old computer uses a sinusoidal waveform generator and piezo vibration sensor in order to measure changes in pressure, acceleration, temperature, strain or force by converting them to an electrical charge. The C64C interprets these signals to help balance the driveshafts in vehicles. The Commodore 64 (also known as the C64, C-64, C= 64) was released in January 1982 and still holds the title for being the best-selling computer of all time.

Researcher Modifies Sieve of Eratosthenes To Work With Less Physical Memory Space ( 78

grcumb writes: Peruvian mathematician Harald Helfgott made his mark on the history of mathematics by solving Goldbach's weak conjecture, which states that every odd number greater than 7 can be expressed as the sum of three prime numbers. Now, according to Scientific American, he's found a better solution to the sieve of Eratosthenes: "In order to determine with this sieve all primes between 1 and 100, for example, one has to write down the list of numbers in numerical order and start crossing them out in a certain order: first, the multiples of 2 (except the 2); then, the multiples of 3, except the 3; and so on, starting by the next number that had not been crossed out. The numbers that survive this procedure will be the primes. The method can be formulated as an algorithm." But now, Helfgott has found a method to drastically reduce the amount of RAM required to run the algorithm: "Now, inspired by combined approaches to the analytical 100-year-old technique called the circle method, Helfgott was able to modify the sieve of Eratosthenes to work with less physical memory space. In mathematical terms: instead of needing a space N, now it is enough to have the cube root of N." So what will be the impact of this? Will we see cheaper, lower-power encryption devices? Or maybe quicker cracking times in brute force attacks? Mathematician Jean Carlos Cortissoz Iriarte of Cornell University and Los Andes University offers an analogy: "Let's pretend that you are a computer and that to store data in your memory you use sheets of paper. If to calculate the primes between 1 and 1,000,000, you need 200 reams of paper (10,000 sheets), and with the algorithm proposed by Helfgott you will only need one fifth of a ream (about 100 sheets)," he says.

Why the Silencing of KrebsOnSecurity Opens a Troubling Chapter For the Internet ( 207

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: For the better part of a day, KrebsOnSecurity, arguably the world's most intrepid source of security news, has been silenced, presumably by a handful of individuals who didn't like a recent series of exposes reporter Brian Krebs wrote. The incident, and the record-breaking data assault that brought it on, open a troubling new chapter in the short history of the Internet. The crippling distributed denial-of-service attacks started shortly after Krebs published stories stemming from the hack of a DDoS-for-hire service known as vDOS. The first article analyzed leaked data that identified some of the previously anonymous people closely tied to vDOS. It documented how they took in more than $600,000 in two years by knocking other sites offline. A few days later, Krebs ran a follow-up piece detailing the arrests of two men who allegedly ran the service. A third post in the series is here. On Thursday morning, exactly two weeks after Krebs published his first post, he reported that a sustained attack was bombarding his site with as much as 620 gigabits per second of junk data. That staggering amount of data is among the biggest ever recorded. Krebs was able to stay online thanks to the generosity of Akamai, a network provider that supplied DDoS mitigation services to him for free. The attack showed no signs of waning as the day wore on. Some indications suggest it may have grown stronger. At 4 pm, Akamai gave Krebs two hours' notice that it would no longer assume the considerable cost of defending KrebsOnSecurity. Krebs opted to shut down the site to prevent collateral damage hitting his service provider and its customers. The assault against KrebsOnSecurity represents a much greater threat for at least two reasons. First, it's twice the size. Second and more significant, unlike the Spamhaus attacks, the staggering volume of bandwidth doesn't rely on misconfigured domain name system servers which, in the big picture, can be remedied with relative ease. The attackers used Internet-of-things devices since they're always-connected and easy to "remotely commandeer by people who turn them into digital cannons that spray the internet with shrapnel." "The biggest threats as far as I'm concerned in terms of censorship come from these ginormous weapons these guys are building," Krebs said. "The idea that tools that used to be exclusively in the hands of nation states are now in the hands of individual actors, it's kind of like the specter of a James Bond movie." While Krebs could retain a DDoS mitigation service, it would cost him between $100,000 and $200,000 per year for the type of protection he needs, which is more than he can afford. What's especially troubling is that this attack can happen to many other websites, not just KrebsOnSecurity.

Smoking Permanently Damages Your DNA, Study Finds ( 177

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: Smoking scars DNA in clear patterns, researchers reported Tuesday. Most of the damage fades over time, they found -- but not all of it. Their study of 16,000 people found that while most of the disease-causing genetic footprints left by smoking fade after five years if people quit, some appear to stay there forever. The marks are made in a process called methylation, which is an alteration of DNA that can inactivate a gene or change how it functions -- often causing cancer and other diseases. The team examined blood samples given by 16,000 people taking part in various studies going back to 1971. In all the studies, people have given blood samples and filled out questionnaires about smoking, diet, lifestyle and their health histories. They found smokers had a pattern of methylation changes affecting more than 7,000 genes, or one-third of known human genes. Many of the genes had known links to heart disease and cancers known to be caused by smoking. Among quitters, most of these changes reverted to the patterns seen in people who never smoked after about five years, the team reported in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics. But smoking-related changes in 19 genes, including the TIAM2 gene linked to lymphoma, lasted 30 years, the team found.

Quantum Teleportation Achieved Over 7km of Cable ( 189

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ScienceAlert: Quantum teleportation just moved out of the lab and into the real world, with two independent teams of scientists successfully sending quantum information across several kilometers of optical fiber networks in Calgary, Canada, and Hefei, China. Quantum teleportation relies on a strange phenomenon called quantum entanglement. Basically, quantum entanglement means that two particles are inextricably linked, so that measuring the state of one immediately affects the state of the other, no matter how far apart the two are -- which led Einstein to call entanglement "spooky action at a distance." In the latest experiments, both published in Nature Photonics (here and here), the teams had slightly different set-ups and results. But what they both had in common is the fact that they teleported their information across existing optical fiber networks -- which is important if we ever want to build useable quantum communication systems. To understand the experiments, Anil Ananthaswamy over at New Scientist nicely breaks it down like this: picture three people involved -- Alice, Bob, and Charlie. Alice and Bob want to share cryptographic keys, and to do that, they need Charlie's help. Alice sends a particle to Charlie, while Bob entangles two particles and sends just one of them to Charlie. Charlie then measures the two particles he's received from each of them, so that they can no longer be differentiated -- and that results in the quantum state of Alice's particle being transferred to Bob's entangled particle. So basically, the quantum state of Alice's particle eventually ends up in Bob's particle, via a way station in the form of Charlie. The Canadian experiment followed this same process, and was able to send quantum information over 6.2 km of Calgary's fiber optic network that's not regularly in use.

Anonymous Hacker Explains His Attack On Boston Children's Hospital ( 295

Okian Warrior writes: Martin Gottesfeld of Anonymous was arrested in connection with the Spring 2014 attacks on a number of healthcare and treatment facilities in the Boston area. The attacks were in response/defense of a patient there named Justina Pelletier. Gottesfeld now explains why he did what he did, in a statement provided to The Huffington Post. Here's an excerpt from his statement: [Why I Knocked Boston Children's Hospital Off The Internet] The answer is simpler than you might think: The defense of an innocent, learning disabled, 15-year-old girl. In the criminal complaint, she's called 'Patient A,' but to me, she has a name, Justina Pelletier. Boston Children's Hospital disagreed with her diagnosis. They said her symptoms were psychological. They made misleading statement on an affidavit, went to court, and had Justina's parents stripped of custody. They stopped her painkillers, leaving her in agony. They stopped her heart medication, leaving her tachycardic. They said she was a danger to herself, and locked her in a psych ward. They said her family was part of the problem, so they limited, monitored, and censored her contact with them..."

SciFi TV Series 'Space Patrol Orion' Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary ( 73

In Germany the phrase "Fallback to Earth!" is about as cult as "Engage warp drive," reports Long-time Slashdot reader Qbertino: One of the oldest science fiction TV serials, the famous German "Raumpatrouille Orion" (Space Patrol Orion) turned 50 today. has a scoop on the anniversary in German [or roughly translated into English by Google]. The production of Space Patrol Orion predates Star Trek by roughly a year and was a huge hit in Germany, gaining the status of a "street sweeper" (Strabenfeger), referring to the effect it's airing had on public life.
The special effects are pretty good for 1966 -- you can watch episode one on YouTube. (And feel free to share other related videos in the comments.) "In the series, nations no longer exist and Earth is united," according to Wikipedia, which reports that Commander Cliff McLane and his loyal crew fight an alien race called the Frogs, and "He is notoriously defiant towards his superiors."

NYPD Says Talking About Its IMSI Catchers Would Make Them Vulnerable To Hacking ( 53

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Typically, cops don't like talking about IMSI catchers, the powerful surveillance technology used to monitor mobile phones en masse. In a recent case, the New York Police Department (NYPD) introduced a novel argument for keeping mum on the subject: Asked about the tools it uses, it argued that revealing the different models of IMSI catchers the force owned would make the devices more vulnerable to hacking. The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), an affiliate of the ACLU, has been trying to get access to information about the NYPD's IMSI catchers under the Freedom of Information Law. These devices are also commonly referred to as "stingrays," after a particularly popular model from Harris Corporation. Indeed, the NYCLU wants to know which models of IMSI catchers made by Harris the police department has. "Public disclosure of this information, and the amount of taxpayer funds spent to buy the devices, directly advances the Freedom of Information Law's purpose of informing a robust public debate about government actions," the NYCLU writes in a court filing. The group has requested documents that show how much money has been spent on the technology. After the NYPD withheld the records, the FOI request was escalated to a lawsuit, which is where the NYPD's strange argument comes in (among others). "Public disclosure of the specifications of the CSS [cell site simulator] technologies in NYPD's possession from the Withheld Records would make the software vulnerable to hacking and would jeopardize NYPD's ability to keep the technologies secure," an affidavit from NYPD Inspector Gregory Antonsen, dated August 17, reads. Antonsen then imagines a scenario where a "highly sophisticated hacker" could use their knowledge of the NYPD's Stingrays to lure officers into a trap and ambush them.

Someone Is Learning How To Take Down the Internet, Warns Bruce Schneier ( 237

Some of the major companies that provide the basic infrastructure that makes the internet work have seen an increase in DDoS attacks against them, says Bruce Schneier. He adds that these attacks are of much larger scale -- including the duration -- than the ones we have seen previously. These attacks, he adds, are also designed to test what all defense measures a company has got -- and they ensure that the company uses every they have got, leaving them with no choice but to demonstrate their defense capabilities to the attacker. He hasn't specifically shared details about the organizations that are under attack, but what little he has elaborated should give us a chill. From his blog post: [...] This all is consistent with what Verisign is reporting. Verisign is the registrar for many popular top-level Internet domains, like .com and .net. If it goes down, there's a global blackout of all websites and e-mail addresses in the most common top-level domains. Every quarter, Verisign publishes (PDF) a DDoS trends report. While its publication doesn't have the level of detail I heard from the companies I spoke with, the trends are the same: "in Q2 2016, attacks continued to become more frequent, persistent, and complex." There's more. One company told me about a variety of probing attacks in addition to the DDoS attacks: testing the ability to manipulate internet addresses and routes, seeing how long it takes the defenders to respond, and so on. Someone is extensively testing the core defensive capabilities of the companies that provide critical Internet services. Who would do this? It doesn't seem like something an activist, criminal, or researcher would do. Profiling core infrastructure is common practice in espionage and intelligence gathering. It's not normal for companies to do that. Furthermore, the size and scale of these probes -- and especially their persistence -- points to state actors. It feels like a nation's military cybercommand trying to calibrate its weaponry in the case of cyberwar. It reminds me of the US's Cold War program of flying high-altitude planes over the Soviet Union to force their air-defense systems to turn on, to map their capabilities.

Slashdot Asks: What Are Your Favorite Technology Books and Novels? 175

It can be a nonfiction book, or a fictional narrative where technology plays a key role. I recently started to read 'The Rise of the Robots' by Martin Ford. It talks about how robots are threatening mass unemployment more than they ever did before. I also found Andrew Blum's 'Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet' quite insightful. I would like to read 'The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers'.

What are some of your favorite tech-centric books? And which book are you currently reading, or recently finished?

Vandalism Detection Contest Sponsored For Wikidata ( 38

Remember when Bing Maps lost a city because they used bad Wikipedia data? An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Since knowledge bases like Wikidata are poised to be integrated into all kinds of information systems, wrong facts are not just displayed on Wikidata's pages but may propagate directly to all systems using the knowledge base. Hence, detecting and reverting vandalism and other kinds of damaging edits is an even more important task than on Wikipedia. Recently, German scientists published the first machine learning-based approach on vandalism detection in Wikidata, and now Adobe sponsors a competition on vandalism detection, the WSDM Cup Challenge, awarding $2500 for the best-performing solutions that will also be published open source.
"Given a Wikidata revision, compute a vandalism score denoting the likelihood of this revision being vandalism (or similarly damaging)," read the official rules, pushing for a near real-time solution to be submitted before December 22. And the winners will also be invited to the headquarters of Wikimedia Germany to discuss implenting their solutions.

Stephen Wolfram Reveals Ambitious Plan to Teach Computational Thinking ( 76

Can we teach future generations how to solve their problems with computers? Slashdot reader mirandakatz writes: Doctors, lawyers, teachers, farmers -- whatever the profession, it'll soon be full of computational thinking. Mathematica and Wolfram Alpha creator Stephen Wolfram argues on Backchannel that it's essential we start teaching kids to talk to computers today to ensure their success in the future -- and he's got a comprehensive lesson plan.
Arguing that Wikipedia popularized "a more direct style of presenting information," Wolfram writes that computer-assisted education continues the trend, "taking things which could only be talked around, and turning them into things that can be shown through computation directly and explicitly." Wolfram's 11,000-word essay adds that "with all the knowledge and automation that we've built into the Wolfram Language we're finally now to the point where we have the technology to be able to directly teach broad computational thinking, even to kids.." (And without having to start off with loops and conditionals...)

New Research Reveals Hundreds of Undiscovered Black Holes ( 75

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: New research by the University of Surrey published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society has shone light on a globular cluster of stars that could host several hundred black holes, a phenomenon that until recently was thought impossible. Globular clusters are spherical collections of stars which orbit around a galactic center such as our Milky-way galaxy. Using advanced computer simulations, the team at the University of Surrey were able to see the un-see-able by mapping a globular cluster known as NGC 6101, from which the existence of black holes within the system was deduced. These black holes are a few times larger than the Sun, and form in the gravitational collapse of massive stars at the end of their lives. It was previously thought that these black holes would almost all be expelled from their parent cluster due to the effects of supernova explosion, during the death of a star. It is only as recently as 2013 that astrophysicists found individual black holes in globular clusters via rare phenomena in which a companion star donates material to the black hole. This work, which was supported by the European Research Council (ERC), has shown that in NGC 6101 there could be several hundred black holes, overturning old theories as to how black holes form.

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