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Wikipedia

Wikipedia Blocks Hundreds of Accounts Doing Paid Editing 78

jan_jes writes: After weeks of investigation, Wikipedia has blocked 381 user accounts for "black hat" editing. The reason for the ban is that the accounts were engaged in undisclosed paid advocacy — the practice of accepting or charging money to promote external interests on Wikipedia without revealing their affiliation, in violation of Wikimedia's Terms of Use. In addition to blocking the 381 "sockpuppet" account, the editors deleted 210 articles created by these accounts.
Media

Mozilla, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Others Form 'Alliance For Open Media' 81

BrianFagioli tips news that Mozilla, Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Intel, Amazon, and Netflix are teaming up to create the Alliance for Open Media, "an open-source project that will develop next-generation media formats, codecs and technologies in the public interest." Several of these companies have been working on this problem alone: Mozilla started Daala, Google has VP9 and VP10, and Cisco just recently announced Thor. Amazon and Netflix, of course, are major suppliers of online video streaming, so they have a vested interested in royalty-free codecs. They're inviting others to join them — the more technology and patents they get on their side, the less likely they'll run into the issues that Microsoft's VC-1 and Google's VP8 struggled with. "The Alliance will operate under W3C patent rules and release code under an Apache 2.0 license. This means all Alliance participants are waiving royalties both for the codec implementation and for any patents on the codec itself."
Science

Carbon Dating Shows Koran May Predate Muhammad 554

HughPickens.com writes: Brian Booker writes at Digital Journal that carbon dating suggests the Koran, or at least portions of it, may actually be older than the prophet Muhammad himself, a finding that if confirmed could rewrite early Islamic history and shed doubt on the "heavenly" origins of the holy text. Scholars believe that a copy of the Koran held by the Birmingham Library was actually written sometime between 568 AD and 645, while the Prophet Mohammad was believed to have been born in 570 AD and to have died in 632 AD. It should be noted, however, that the dating was only conducted on the parchment, rather than the ink, so it is possible that the Koran was simply written on old paper. Some scholars believe, however, that Muhammad did not receive the Koran from heaven, as he claimed during his lifetime, but instead collected texts and scripts that fit his political agenda. "This gives more ground to what have been peripheral views of the Koran's genesis, like that Muhammad and his early followers used a text that was already in existence and shaped it to fit their own political and theological agenda, rather than Muhammad receiving a revelation from heaven," says Keith Small, from the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library. "'It destabilises, to put it mildly, the idea that we can know anything with certainty about how the Koran emerged," says Historian Tom Holland. "and that in turn has implications for the history of Muhammad and the Companions." Update: 09/01 17:32 GMT by S : There was a typo in the dates used by the original linked article — in the press release from the University of Birmingham, the date range given for the parchment is between 568 AD and 645 AD, which overlaps more closely with Muhammad's lifetime. The dates and link have been fixed now in the summary. Historians say this new information highlights the uncertainty surrounding the emergence of such religious texts, rather than being a major upheaval.
Open Source

LILO Bootloader Development To End 129

An anonymous reader writes: For any longtime Linux users, you probably remember the LILO bootloader from Linux distributions of many years ago. This bootloader has been in development since the 90's but development is finally ending. A homepage message reads, "I plan to finish development of LILO at 12/2015 because of some limitations (e.g. with BTFS, GPT, RAID). If someone want to develop this nice software further, please let me know ..."
Movies

Brain Cancer Claims Horror Maestro Wes Craven At 76 35

New submitter JamesA writes: Wes Craven, the famed writer-director of horror films known for the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream movies, died Sunday after a battle with brain cancer. He was 76. Though he's far less known as a novelist than for his various horror film jobs (writer, director, producer, actor ...), Craven also wrote a few books; I can't vouch for "Coming of Rage," but "Fountain Society" is pretty solid speculative fiction. Wikipedia notes that Craven also "designed the Halloween 2008 logo for Google, and was the second celebrity personality to take over the YouTube homepage on Halloween."
The Military

F-35 To Face Off Against A-10 In CAS Test 466

An anonymous reader writes: Lara Seligman from Defense News reports that the capabilities of the Joint Strike Fighter are to be evaluated for close-air support (CAS) missions. She writes, "To gauge the joint strike fighter's ability to perform in a close-air support role, the Pentagon's top weapons tester has declared the sleek new fighter jet must face off against the lumbering A-10. The Pentagon's Office of Operational Test and Evaluation plans to pit the full-up F-35 against the legacy A-10 Warthog and potentially other fighter jets to evaluate the next-generation aircraft's ability to protect soldiers on the ground."
OS X

A FreeBSD "Spork" With Touches of NeXT and OS X: NeXTBSD 160

There are a lot of open source operating systems out there; being open source, they lend themselves to forks, clones or near clones, and friendly offshoots. There are even services to let you customize, download, and (if you choose) bulk-install your own OS based on common components. Phoronix notes a new project called NeXTBSD that might turn more heads than most new open source OSes, in part because of the developers behind it, and in part because of the positive thoughts many people have toward the aesthetics of NeXTSTEP and Mac OS X. (And while it might be a fork of FreeBSD, the developers would rather call it a spork, instead.) NeXTBSD was announced last week by Jordan Hubbard and Kip Macy at the Bay Area FreeBSD Users Group (BAFUG). NeXTBSD / FreeBSD X is based on the FreeBSD-CURRENT kernel while adding in Mach IPC, Libdispatch, notifyd, asld, launchd, and other components derived from Apple's open-source code for OS X. The basic launchd/notifyd/asld/libdispatch stack atop their "fork" of FreeBSD is working along with other basic components of their new design. You can watch a recording of the announcement as well as a longer introduction linked from Phoronix's story.
Censorship

Malaysia Blocking Websites Based On Political Content 120

An anonymous reader writes: A few days ago Slashdot carried a piece of news from Malaysia whereby [news] websites based in Malaysia must be registered. Now comes the news that Malaysia is actively blocking websites which carry political opinion contrary to those of the ruling elite. Granted, Malaysia is no US of A nor Europe, but the world must understand that Malaysia is the only country in the world where racial apartheid laws are still being actively practiced — and have received endorsement from the ruling elite which has controlled Malaysia for the past 58 years. (Wikipedia lists some other candidates for modern-day apartheid in its entry on Contemporary segregation.)
Mars

New Horizons' New Target: Kuiper Belt Ice Chunk 2014 MU69 43

Vox reports on the next target destination for NASA's New Horizons probe, an ice chunk in the Kuiper Belt designated 2014 MU69. The plan is not yet final; like any space mission, complications are bound to come up. But if this selection sticks, New Horizons should reach 2014 MU69 in 2019. (Re/Code has the story, too.)
Security

Abusing Symbolic Links Like It's 1999 53

An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from James Forshaw's recent post at Google's Project Zero, which begins For the past couple of years I've been researching Windows elevation of privilege attacks. This might be escaping sandboxing or gaining system privileges. One of the techniques I've used multiple times is abusing the symbolic link facilities of the Windows operating system to redirect privileged code to create files or registry keys to escape the restrictive execution context. Symbolic links in themselves are not vulnerabilities, instead they're useful primitives for exploiting different classes of vulnerabilities such as resource planting or time-of-check time-of-use. Click through that link to see examples of this abuse in action, but also information about how the underlying risks have been (or can be) mitigated.
Cellphones

Former Apple CEO Creates an iPhone Competitor 134

An anonymous reader links to Fast Company's profile of Obi Worldphone, one-time Apple CEO John Sculley's venture into smartphones. The company's first two products (both reasonably spec'd, moderately priced Android phones) are expected to launch in October. And though the phones are obviously running a different operating system than Apple's, Sculley says that Obi is a similarly design-obsessed company: "The hardest part of the design was not coming up with cool-looking designs," Sculley says. "It was sweating the details over in the Chinese factories, who just were not accustomed to having this quality of finish, all of these little details that make a beautiful design. We had teams over in China, working for months on the floor every day. We intend to continue that process and have budgeted accordingly." Obi is also trying to set itself apart from the low-price pack by cutting deals for premium parts. "Instead of going directly to the Chinese factories, we went to the key component vendors, because we know that ecosystem and have the relationships," Sculley says. "We went to Sony. It’s struggling and losing money on its smartphone business, but they make the best camera modules in the world."
Programming

Deep Learning Pioneer On the Next Generation of Hardware For Neural Networks 45

An anonymous reader writes: While many recognize Yann LeCun as the father of convolutional neural networks, the momentum of which has ignited artificial intelligence at companies like Google, Facebook and beyond, LeCun has not been strictly rooted in algorithms. Like others who have developed completely new approaches to computing, he has an extensive background in hardware, specifically chip design and this recognition of specialization of hardware, movement of data around complex problems, and ultimately core performance, has proven handy. He talks in depth this week about why FPGAs are coming onto the scene as companies like Google and Facebook seek a move away from "proprietary hardware" and look to "programmable devices" to do things like, oh, say, pick out a single face of one's choosing from an 800,000 strong population in under five seconds.
Moon

You Can Now Be "Buried" On the Moon 72

Dave Knott writes: Space burials are longer the stuff of science fiction (and wealthy science fiction TV show creators.) The cremated remains of more than 450 people have been shot into orbit. Yet, despite the promise of space being a unique "resting place," almost every tiny vial of remains ever sent there has come back down to Earth or burned up upon re-entry. This wouldn't have happened had the ashes landed on Earth's moon — a fact that hasn't been lost on the companies pioneering this futuristic funeral technology. The San Francisco-based company Elysium Space officially launched its 'lunar memorial' service earlier this month, and will soon be sending the remains of a U.S. Army Infantry Soldier's mother upwards as part of its first ever moon burial.

The company's website further explains how the lunar burials will work: "You receive a kit containing a custom ash capsule to collect a cremated remains sample. After we receive the ash capsule back from you, we place your capsule in the Elysium memorial spacecraft. The latter is eventually integrated to the Astrobotic lander during the designated integration event. From here, the lander is integrated onto the launch vehicle. On launch day, the remains are carried to the moon where the lander will be deployed to its dedicated location, preserving our memorial spacecraft for eternity." Because Elysium can only send a small portion of cremated remains to the moon (less than a gram), participants aren't actually paying to have their loved ones literally buried on the moon. However, this has not deterred the company from launching the service, charging $11,950 per "burial".
Space

NASA Mulls Missions To Neptune and Uranus, Using the Space Launch System 77

MarkWhittington writes: According to a story in Astronomy Magazine, NASA is contemplating sending flagship sized space probes to the so-called "ice giants" of Uranus and Neptune. These probes would orbit the two outer planets, similar to how Galileo orbited Jupiter and how Cassini currently orbits Saturn. The only time NASA has previously had a close encounter with either of these worlds was when Voyager 2 flew by Uranus in 1986 and then Neptune in 1989. Each of these missions would happen after the Europa Clipper, a flagship-class mission scheduled for the mid-2020s.
Science

Stephen Hawking Presents Theory On Getting Information Out of a Black Hole 168

An anonymous reader writes: Physicist Stephen Hawking claims to have figured out a way for information to leave a black hole. He presented his theory today at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Scientists have struggled with the black hole information paradox for years, and Hawking thinks this new theory could be a solution. He said, "I propose that the information is stored not in the interior of the black hole as one might expect, but in its boundary, the event horizon." Put in layman's terms, "this jumbled return of information was like burning an encyclopedia: You wouldn't technically lose any information if you kept all of the ashes in one place, but you'd have a hard time looking up the capital of Minnesota." Information can leave the black hole via Hawking radiation, though it will be functionally useless. Hawking worked with Cambridge's Malcolm Perry and Harvard's Andrew Stromberg on this theory.
Hardware

Video The IoT, the MinnowBoard, and How They Fit Into the Universe (Video) 25

The IoT is becoming more pervasive partly because processor costs are dropping. So are bandwidth costs, even if your ISP isn't sharing those savings with you. Today's interviewee, Mark Skarpness, is "the Director of Embedded Software in the Open Source Technology Center at Intel Corporation," which is an amazing mouthful of a title. What it means is that he works to extend Intel's reach into Open Source communities, and is also aware of how hardware and software price drops -- and bandwidth price drops at the "wholesale" level -- mean that if you add a dash of IPV6, even lowly flip-flops might have their own IPs one day.

This video interview is a little less than six minutes long, while the text transcript covers a 17 minute conversation between Mark Skarpness and Slashdot's Timothy Lord. The video can be considered a "meet Mark" thing, and watching it will surely give you the idea that yes, this guy knows his stuff, but for more info about the spread of the IoT and how the Open Hardware MinnowBoard fits into the panoply of developer tools for IoT work, you'll have to read the transcript.
Windows

Windows 95 Turns 20 284

Etherwalk writes: Windows 95 turns 20 tomorrow, August 24, 2015. Users looking to upgrade from Windows 3.1 should be warned that some reviewers on the Amazon purchase page have been receiving 3.5" high-density floppy disk versions instead of a modern 150 kbps CD-ROM disk. Do you remember first seeing or installing Windows 95? Do you have any systems still running it?
Technology

Another Step In Quantum Computing: A Functional Interconnect 43

New submitter Gennerik writes: According to a recent article in the MIT Technology Review, a team of international physicists have been able to create a quantum computing interconnect. The interconnect, which is used to connect separate silicon photonic chips, has the important feature of preserving entanglement. This marks a vital step in creating quantum computers that don't have to work in isolation. According to the article, the trick that The trick that [University of Bristol Researcher Mark Thomson] and pals have perfected is to convert the path-entanglement into a different kind of entanglement, in this case involving polarization. They do this by allowing the path-entangled photons to interfere with newly created photons in a way that causes them to become polarized. This also entangles the newly created photons, which pass into the optical fiber and travel to the second silicon photonic chip.