Privacy

How Boing Boing Handled an FBI Subpoena Over Its Tor Exit Node

An anonymous reader writes: Cory Doctorow has posted an account of what happened when tech culture blog Boing Boing got a federal subpoena over the Tor exit node the site had been running for years. They received the subpoena in June, and the FBI demanded all logs relating to the exit node: specifically, "subscriber records" and "user information" for everybody associated with the exit node's IP address. They were also asked to testify before a federal grand jury. While they were nervous at first, the story has a happy ending. Their lawyer sent a note back to the FBI agent in charge, explaining that the IP address in question was an exit node. The agent actually looked into Tor, realized no logs were available, and cancelled the request. Doctorow considers this encouraging for anyone who's thinking about opening a new exit node: "I'm not saying that everyone who gets a federal subpoena for running a Tor exit node will have this outcome, but the only Tor legal stories that rise to the public's attention are the horrific ones. Here's a counterexample: Fed asks us for our records, we say we don't have any, fed goes away."
User Journal

Journal Journal: Fallout 1

Pretty interesting, that Reddit has been undergoing some grief over their policy changes. Many of their readership have jumped ship (to one extent or another) to voat.co, a site that has recently incorporated as an American entity in order to improve their chances of success. Factors in play (according to their announcement) include the ability to host in the US, ability to get financial support from the readers, and freedoms guaran

Earth

Why Bill Gates Is Dumping Another $1 Billion Into Clean Energy 57

An anonymous reader writes: A little over a month ago, Bill Gates made headlines when he decided to double down on his investments in renewable energy. Now, he's written an article for Quartz explaining why: "I think this issue is especially important because, of all the people who will be affected by climate change, those in poor countries will suffer the most. Higher temperatures and less-predictable weather would hurt poor farmers, most of whom live on the edge and can be devastated by a single bad crop. Food supplies could decline. Hunger and malnutrition could rise. It would be a terrible injustice to let climate change undo any of the past half-century's progress against poverty and disease — and doubly unfair because the people who will be hurt the most are the ones doing the least to cause the problem." He also says government is not doing enough to fund such research, and that energy markets aren't doing a good enough job of factoring the negative effects of carbon emissions.
Patents

IBM Locking Up Lots of Cloud Computing Patents 40

dkatana writes: In an article for InformationWeek Charles Babcock notes that IBM has been hoarding patents on every aspect of cloud computing. They've secured about 1,200 in the past 18 months, including ~400 so far this year. "For those who conceive of the cloud as an environment based on public standards with many shared elements, the grant of these patents isn't entirely reassuring." Babcock says, and he adds: "Whatever the intent, these patents illustrate how the cloud, even though it's conceived of as a shared environment following public standards, may be subject to some of the same intellectual property disputes and patent trolling as earlier, more directly proprietary environments."
Math

Using Math To Tune a Video Game's Economy 37

An anonymous reader writes: When the shipping deadline was approaching for The Witcher 3, designer Matthew Steinke knew there was a big part of the game still missing: its economy. A game's economy is one of the things that can make or break immersion — you want collection and rewards to feel progressive and meaningful. Making items to expensive gives the game a grindy feel, while making them too cheap makes progression trivial. At the Game Developers Conference underway in Germany, Steinke explained his solution.

"Steinke created a formula that calculated attributes like how much damage, defense, or healing that each item provided, and he placed them into an overall combat rating could be used to rank other items in the system. ... Steinke set about blending the sub-categories into nine generalized categories, allowing him to determine the final weighting for damage and the range of prices for each item. To test if it all worked, he used polynomial least squares (a form of mathematical statistics) to chart each category's price progression. The resultant curve (pictured below) showed the rate at which spending was increasing as the quality of each item approached the category's ceiling value."
Businesses

Amazon Cuts Down On Prime Sharing 33

An anonymous reader writes: Tech Crunch reports that Amazon quietly rolled out changes to how their Prime subscriptions can be shared. The good news is that existing members aren't immediately losing their current sharing setups. It used to be that Amazon would let Prime subscribers share free shipping and a few other benefits with up to four other "household" members, with little restriction on what counted as a "household." The bad news: as of last weekend, Amazon now limits sharing to one other adult and four "child" profiles. The adults will need to authorize each other to use credit/debit cards associated with the account. Amazon didn't make any announcement about this, so it's unknown how long existing Prime shares will stay in effect. They could disappear when the subscription is up for renewal, or earlier if Amazon decides to crack down on it.
Microsoft

Microsoft Makes Push To Get Back Into E-Sports 67

An anonymous reader writes: In October, Microsoft will publish Halo 5: Guardians, the first game in the series to be developed exclusively for the Xbox One. Microsoft is taking the opportunity to make a big play to become part of the e-sports market. They've announced a Halo competition with $1 million in prizes. As e-sports become more mainstream, and as game streaming has turned into a billion-dollar business, more and more development studios are seeing it as part of their marketing strategy. "When Halo fell out of favor among e-sports players, other games began to take off, often ones that were created with high-level competition in mind and that came from developers that invested heavily in events for professionals. Riot Games has turned League of Legends, its multiplayer online battle arena, into the most watched e-sport in the world, with 40,000 attendees at its finals in Korea last year." Microsoft wants back into that segment, and they're willing to spend big to do so.
Movies

Dungeons & Dragons Is Getting a Film Franchise 131

New submitter IT.luddite sends word that Hasbro and Warner Bros. have announced Dungeons & Dragons will be getting its own film franchise. They already have a script, and they'll be working with production company Sweetpea Entertainment, but they haven't picked a director, yet. They'll have at least some of the people on board who worked on the D&D movie from 2000, which was a flop. The deal between Hasbro and Warner Bros. comes after a prolonged legal battle about who owned the rights to a D&D movie. They note, "All rights for future Dungeons & Dragons productions have been unified and returned to Wizards of the Coast, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hasbro."
Power

Giving Up Alternating Current 316

An anonymous reader writes: Yesterday we discussed Soylent, the artificial food substitute created by Rob Rhinehart and his team. As it turns out, this isn't Rhinehart's only unusual sustainability project. In a new post, he explains how he gave up on alternating current — a tough proposition for anyone living in the U.S. and still interested in using all sorts of modern technology. Rhinehart says, "Most power in the US is generated by burning coal, immediately squandering 67% of its energy, then run through a steam turbine, losing another 50%, then sent across transmission lines, losing another 5%, then to charge a DC device like a cell phone another 50% is lost in conversion. This means for 100 watts of coal or oil burned my phone gets a mere 16."

The biggest hindrance was the kitchen. As you might expect for the creator of Soylent, he doesn't cook, and was able to get rid of almost all kitchen appliances because of that. He uses a butane stove for hot beverages. He powers a small computer off batteries, which get their energy from solar panels. For intensive tasks, he remotes to more powerful machines. He re-wired his apartment's LED lighting to run off direct current. Have any of you made similar changes? How much of an effect does this really have?
Printer

Epson Is Trying To Kill the Printer Ink Cartridge 170

An anonymous reader writes: Inkjet printer cartridges have been the bane of many small businesses and home offices for decades. It's interesting, then, that Epson is trying something new: next month, they're launching a new line of printers that come with small tanks of ink, instead of cartridges. The tanks will be refilled using bottles of ink. They're reversing the economics, here: the printer itself will be more expensive, but the refills will be much cheaper. Early reports claim you'll be spending a tenth as much on ink as you were before, but we'll see how that shakes out. The Bloomberg article makes a good point: it's never been easier to not print things. The printer industry needs to innovate if it wants us to keep churning out printed documents, and this may be the first big step.
Government

FAA Has Approved More Than 1,000 Drone Exemptions 50

coondoggie writes: The Federal Aviation Administration today said it has issued 1,008 exemptions to businesses wanting to fly unmanned aircraft in the national airspace. Such small drones have been on the bad side of the news in the past few days: there have been at least three complaints about the diminutive aircraft flying near the flight path of JFK airport in New York. All three of the flights landed safely but the events prompted New York Senator Charles Schumer to call for "tougher FAA rules on drones," as well as geofencing software that could prohibit a done from flying higher than 500 feet, and keep it two miles away from any airport or sensitive area.
Yahoo!

Hackers Exploit Adobe Flash Vulnerability In Yahoo Ads 71

vivaoporto notes a report that a group of hackers have used online ad networks to distribute malware over several of Yahoo's websites. The attack began on Tuesday, July 28, and was shut down on Monday, August 3. It was targeted at Yahoo's sports, finance, gaming, and news-related sites. Security firm Malwarebytes says the hackers exploited a Flash vulnerability to redirect users to the Angler Exploit Kit. "Attacks on advertising networks have been on the rise ... researchers say. Hackers are able to use the advertising networks themselves, built for targeting specific demographics of Internet users, to find vulnerable machines. While Yahoo acknowledged the attack, the company said that it was not nearly as big as Malwarebytes had portrayed it to be."
Social Networks

Facebook Allows Turkish Government To Set the Censorship Rules 106

New submitter feylikurds writes: Facebook has been blocking and banning users for posting Kurdish or anti-Turkish material. Many screenshots exists of Facebook notifying people for such. You can insult any single historical figure that you like on Facebook except one: Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal 'Ataturk'. However, he should not receive special treatment and be protected from criticism, but rather should be treated and examined like everyone else. In order to be accessible within Turkey, Facebook has allowed the repressive Turkish government to set the censorship rules for billions of their users all around the globe. Facebook censors Kurds on behalf of Turkey. To show the world how unjust this policy is, this group discusses Facebook's censorship policy as it relates to Kurds (Facebook account required) and how to get Facebook to change its unfair and discriminatory policy. Makes re-reading Hossein Derakhshan's piece worth the time.
Botnet

Cleaning Up Botnets Takes Years, May Never Be Completed 67

Once a botnet has taken root in a large pool of computers, truly expunging it from them may be a forlorn hope. That, writes itwbennett, is: the finding of researchers in the Netherlands who analyzed the efforts of the Conficker Working Group to stop the botnet and find its creators. Seven years later, there are still about 1 million computers around the world infected with the Conficker malware despite the years-long cleanup effort. 'These people that remain infected — they might remain infected forever,' said Hadi Asghari, assistant professor at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. The research paper will be presented next week at the 24th USENIX Security Symposium in Washington, D.C. (And "Post-Mortem of a Zombie" is an exciting way to title a paper.)
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF and MuckRock Need Your Help Tracking Biometric Surveillance 17

v3rgEz writes: Police departments are increasingly tracking your face, your fingerprints, your tattoos — and even your DNA. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and MuckRock are working to uncover how local agencies are tracking you and bring some much-needed transparency to the murky world of biometric surveillance through a free public records audit: Just put in some basic information about an agency near you, and they'll publicly file a request to see what vendors your city is using, how they protect your privacy, and more.
Open Source

Ada Initiative Organization To End, But Its Work Will Continue 163

An anonymous reader writes: Today the Ada Initiative announced that the nonprofit will shut down in mid-October. Founded in 2011, the Ada Initiative is a nonprofit feminist organization created to help improve open source culture and build a more inviting, productive, safe environment for women. In this interview with Opensource.com, the co-founders look back at the organization's successes, and the work that still needs to be done.
Data Storage

Toshiba, SanDisk Piloting 3D NAND That Doubles Previous Capacity 54

Lucas123 writes: Under a joint development agreement, Toshiba and SanDisk have begun pilot production of a new 48-layer 256Gb NAND flash chip in a brand new fab in Mie prefecture, Japan. The new X3 chips, which double capacity from 16GB to 32GB over the previous product, are made with triple-level cell (TLC) flash compared with Toshiba's last multi-level cell (MLC) chip, which stored two-bits per transistor. The chips are expected to begin shipping in products next year. The companies plan to use the new memory in a wide number of products, including consumer SSDs, smartphones, tablets, memory cards, and enterprise SSDs for data centers, the companies said.
Microsoft

Behind the Microsoft Write-Off of Nokia 168

UnknowingFool writes: Previously Microsoft announced they had written off the Nokia purchase for $7.6B in the last quarter. In doing so, Microsoft would create only the third unprofitable quarter in the company's history. Released on July 31, new financial documents detail some of the reasoning and financials behind this decision. At the core of the problem was that the Phone Hardware business was only worth $116M, after adjusting for costs and market factors. One of those factors was poor sales of Nokia handhelds in 2015. Financially it made more sense to write it all off.
Japan

NTT, Japan's Largest Fixed Telecom Provider, Begins Phasing Out ADSL 115

AmiMoJo writes: Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT), the third largest telecoms provider in the world, is beginning to phase out ADSL for broadband internet access (Google Translate helps). NTT is no longer accepting new registrations, and no longer manufacturing the equipment required. Instead they recommend users opt for their FLET'S HIKARI fibre optic service. Their "Giga Mansion Smart Type" services offers 1Gb/sec for around $40/month.
Robotics

Philadelphia Hackers and Others Offer Brotherly Love To Fallen Robot 131

An anonymous reader writes: Since a hitchhiking robot was destroyed in Philadelphia over the weekend, there has been an overwhelming show of support according to its co-creators Frauke Zeller and David Smith. Makers from all over Philly have reached out and offered to help rebuild the robot. "We'll say that at this moment, if we get the OK from the creators to repair or replace the needed parts for HitchBOT, we'll be happy to do so," wrote Georgia Guthrie, executive director for a local makerspace called The Hacktory. "If not, we understand and we may just build ourselves a HitchBot2 to send along on its journey. We feel it's the least we can do to let everyone, especially the Robot community, know that Philly isn't so bad."