GNU is Not Unix

Video Purism Offers Free (as in Freedom) Laptops (Video) 31 31

Purism uses its own OS, PureOS, which is a Debian derivative by way of Ubuntu and other members of the Debian-derivative family, but with no taint of proprietary code. Now imagine all the binaries stripped out of the Linux kernel, making it closer to the FSF ideal of a 100% free operating system than the Linux kernel in use almost everywhere else.

They're still using a proprietary BIOS, but have people working on a Free one. The main thing, though, is that Purism is working to give you all the privacy and freedom they can -- with more coming as they keep working to replace proprietary bits of the OS, BIOS, and hardware drivers with Free Software. Best of all, even if you don't need a new laptop right now, you can download PureOS and run it on any compatible hardware you already own.
Piracy

Interviews: Kim Dotcom Answers Your Questions 60 60

Kim Dotcom was the founder of Megaupload, its successor Mega, and New Zealand's Internet Party. A while ago you had a chance to ask him about those things as well as the U.S. government charging him with criminal copyright violation and racketeering. Below you'll find his answers to your questions.
Power

Britain Shuts Off 750,000 Streetlights With No Impact On Crime Or Crashes 182 182

Flash Modin writes: English cities are hard up for cash as the national government dolls out cuts. And in response, the country's councils — local governing bodies — have slashed costs by turning off an estimated 750,000 streetlights. Fans of the night sky and reduced energy usage are happy, but the move has also sparked a national debate. The Automobile Association claims six people have died as a direct result of dimming the lights. But a new study released Wednesday looked at 14 years of data from 63 local authorities across England and Wales and found that residents' chances of being attacked, robbed, or struck by a car were no worse on the darker streets.
Graphics

On Linux, $550 Radeon R9 Fury Competes With $200~350 NVIDIA GPUs 71 71

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this month AMD released the air-cooled Radeon R9 Fury graphics card with Fury X-like performance, but the big caveat is the bold performance is only to be found on Windows. Testing the R9 Fury X on Linux revealed the Catalyst driver delivers devastatingly low performance for this graphics card. With OpenGL Linux games, the R9 Fury performed between the speed of a GeForce GTX 960 and 970, with the GTX 960 retailing for around $200 while the GTX 970 is $350. The only workloads where the AMD R9 Fury performed as expected under Linux was the Unigine Valley tech demo and OpenCL compute tests. There also is not any open-source driver support yet for the AMD R9 Fury.
Shark

Researchers Demonstrate the World's First White Lasers 108 108

An anonymous reader writes: Scientists and engineers at Arizona State University, in Tempe, have created the first lasers that can shine light over the full spectrum of visible colors. The device's inventors suggest the laser could find use in video displays, solid-state lighting, and a laser-based version of Wi-Fi. Although previous research has created red, blue, green and other lasers, each of these lasers usually only emitted one color of light. Creating a monolithic structure capable of emitting red, green, and blue all at once has proven difficult because it requires combining very different semiconductors. Growing such mismatched crystals right next to each other often results in fatal defects throughout each of these materials. But now scientists say they've overcome that problem. The heart of the new device is a sheet only nanometers thick made of a semiconducting alloy of zinc, cadmium, sulfur, and selenium. The sheet is divided into different segments. When excited with a pulse of light, the segments rich in cadmium and selenium gave off red light; those rich in cadmium and sulfur emitted green light; and those rich in zinc and sulfur glowed blue.
Medicine

Beyond Safety: Is Robotic Surgery Sustainable? 52 52

Hallie Siegel writes: The release last week of the study on adverse events in robotic surgery led to much discussion on the safety and effectiveness of robotic surgical procedures. MIT Sloane's Matt Beane argues that while the hope is that this dialogue will mean safer and more effective robotic procedures in the future, the intense focus on safety and effectiveness has compromised training opportunities for new robotic surgeons, who require many hours of 'live' surgical practice time to develop their skills. Beane says that robotic surgery will likely continue to expand in proportion to other methods, given that it allows fewer surgeons to perform surgery with less trauma to the patient, but no matter how safe we make robotic surgical procedures, they will become a luxury available to a very few if we fail to address the sustainability of the practice.
Supercomputing

Obama's New Executive Order Says the US Must Build an Exascale Supercomputer 211 211

Jason Koebler writes: President Obama has signed an executive order authorizing a new supercomputing research initiative with the goal of creating the fastest supercomputers ever devised. The National Strategic Computing Initiative, or NSCI, will attempt to build the first ever exascale computer, 30 times faster than today's fastest supercomputer. Motherboard reports: "The initiative will primarily be a partnership between the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and National Science Foundation, which will be designing supercomputers primarily for use by NASA, the FBI, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Homeland Security, and NOAA. Each of those agencies will be allowed to provide input during the early stages of the development of these new computers."
Biotech

Genetically Modified Rice Makes More Food, Less Greenhouse Gas 274 274

Applehu Akbar writes: A team of researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences has engineered a barley gene into rice, producing a variety that yields 50% more grain while producing 90% less of the powerful greenhouse gas methane. The new rice pulls off this trick by putting more of its energy into top growth. In countries which depend on rice as a staple, this would add up to a really large amount of increased rice and foregone methane.
China

What Federal Employees Really Need To Worry About After the Chinese Hack 119 119

HughPickens.com writes: Lisa Rein writes in the Washington Post that a new government review of what the Chinese hack of sensitive security clearance files of 21 million people means for national security is in — and some of the implications are quite grave. According to the Congressional Research Service, covert intelligence officers and their operations could be exposed and high-resolution fingerprints could be copied by criminals. Some suspect that the Chinese government may build a database of U.S. government employees that could help identify U.S. officials and their roles or that could help target individuals to gain access to additional systems or information. National security concerns include whether hackers could have obtained information that could help them identify clandestine and covert officers and operations (PDF).

CRS says that if the fingerprints in the background investigation files are of high enough quality, "depending on whose hands the fingerprints come into, they could be used for criminal or counterintelligence purposes." Fingerprints also could be trafficked on the black market for profit — or used to blow the covers of spies and other covert and clandestine officers, the research service found. And if they're compromised, fingerprints can't be reissued like a new credit card, the report says, making "recovery from the breach more challenging for some."
vivaoporto Also points out that these same hackers are believed to be responsible for hacking United Airlines.
GNU is Not Unix

Interviews: Ask Richard Stallman a Question 290 290

RMS founded the GNU Project, the Free Software Foundation, and remains one of the most important and outspoken advocates for software freedom. He now spends much of his time fighting excessive extension of copyright laws, digital restrictions management, and software patents. RMS has agreed to answer your questions about GNU/Linux, how GNU relates to Linux the kernel, free software, why he disagrees with the idea of open source, and other issues of public concern. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
PC Games (Games)

Sprked Tries To Solve Valve's Paid Mods Scandal 37 37

SlappingOysters writes: This article takes a closer look at the emerging crowdfunding platform Sprked, which aims to follow the Patreon support model, but exclusively for video game modders. The service is currently in its early stages, but by crafting a system of appreciation and support that acknowledges the loyalty of the modding community, Sprked has the potential to promote and foster the creativity that is so integral to modding, instead of hampering it with the murky baggage of a mandatory economy. Valve's attempt to let modders make some money for their efforts backfired within the community — there are four demons the paid mods plan must slay to actually work.
Android

Maliciously Crafted MKV Video Files Can Be Used To Crash Android Phones 90 90

itwbennett writes: Just days after publication of a flaw in Android's Stagefright, which could allow attackers to compromise devices with a simple MMS message, researchers have found another Android media processing flaw. The latest vulnerability is located in Android's mediaserver component, more specifically in how the service handles files that use the Matroska video container (MKV), Trend Micro researchers said. "When the process opens a malformed MKV file, the service may crash (and with it, the rest of the operating system). The vulnerability is caused by an integer overflow when the mediaserver service parses an MKV file. It reads memory out of buffer or writes data to NULL address when parsing audio data."
News

Newfound Bacteria Expand Tree of Life 27 27

An anonymous reader writes: It used to be that to find new forms of life, all you had to do was take a walk in the woods. Now it's not so simple. The most conspicuous organisms have long since been cataloged and fixed on the tree of life, and the ones that remain undiscovered don't give themselves up easily. You could spend all day by the same watering hole with the best scientific instruments and come up with nothing. Maybe it's not surprising, then, that when discoveries do occur, they sometimes come in torrents. Find a different way of looking, and novel forms of life appear everywhere. A team of microbiologists based at the University of California, Berkeley, recently figured out one such new way of detecting life. At a stroke, their work expanded the number of known types — or phyla — of bacteria by nearly 50 percent, a dramatic change that indicates just how many forms of life on earth have escaped our notice so far.
The Military

US Military Stepping Up Use of Directed Energy Weapons 83 83

An anonymous reader writes: At a conference on Tuesday, U.S. officials explained that all branches of the military would be increasing their use of lasers and other directed energy weapons. Lieutenant General William Etter said, "Directed energy brings the dawn of an entirely new era in defense." The Navy's laser deployment test has gone well, and they're working on a new prototype laser in the 100-150 kilowatt range. "[Navy Secretary Ray] Mabus said Iran and other countries were already using lasers to target ships and commercial airliners, and the U.S. military needed to accelerate often cumbersome acquisition processes to ensure that it stayed ahead of potential foes."
Patents

MPEG LA Announces Call For DASH Patents 66 66

An anonymous reader writes: The MPEG LA has announced a call for patents essential to the Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (or DASH) standard. According to the MPEG LA's press release, "Market adoption of DASH technology standards has increased to the point where the market would benefit from the availability of a convenient nondiscriminatory, nonexclusive worldwide one-stop patent pool license." The newly formed MPEG-DASH patent pool's licensing program will allegedly offer the market "efficient access to this important technology."
United Kingdom

UK Campaign Wants 18-Year-Olds To Be Able To Delete Embarrassing Online Past 305 305

An anonymous reader writes: People should be allowed to delete embarrassing social media posts when they reach adulthood, UK internet rights campaigners are urging. The iRights coalition has set out five rights which young people should expect online, including being able to easily edit or delete content they have created, and to know who is holding or profiting from their information. Highlighting how campaigners believe adults should not have to bear the shame of past immaturity, iRights also wants children to be protected from illegal or distressing pages; to be digitally literate; and be able to make informed and conscious choices.
Advertising

Advertising Companies Accused of Deliberately Slowing Page-load Times For Profit 370 370

An anonymous reader writes: An industry insider has told Business Insider of his conviction that ad-serving companies deliberately prolong the 'auctioning' process for ad spots when a web-page loads. They do this to maximize revenue by allowing automated 'late-comers' to participate beyond the 100ms limit placed on the decision-making process. The unnamed source, a principal engineer at a global news company (whose identity and credentials were confirmed by Business Insider), concluded with the comment: "My entire team of devs and testers mostly used Adblock when developing sites, just because it was so painful otherwise." Publishers use 'daisy-chaining' to solicit bids from the most profitable placement providers down to the 'B-list' placements, and the longer the process is run, the more likely that the web-page will be shown with profitable advertising in place.
Businesses

DHI Group Inc. Announces Plans to Sell Slashdot Media 549 549

An anonymous reader writes: DHI Group Inc. (formerly known as Dice Holdings Inc.) announced plans to sell Slashdot Media (slashdot.org & sourceforge.net) in their Q2 financial report. This is being reported by multiple sources. Editor's note: Yep, looks like we're being sold again. We'll keep you folks updated, but for now I don't have any more information than is contained in the press release. Business as usual until we find a buyer (and hopefully after). The company prepared a statement for our blog as well — feel free to discuss the news here, there, or in both places.
Government

Two Years Later, White House Responds To 'Pardon Edward Snowden' Petition 583 583

An anonymous reader writes: In June of 2013, a petition was posted to Whitehouse.gov demanding that Edward Snowden receive a full pardon for his leaks about the NSA and U.S. surveillance practices. The petition swiftly passed 100,000 signatures — the point at which the White House said it would officially respond to such petitions. For two years, the administration was silent, but now they've finally responded. In short: No, Edward Snowden won't be receiving a pardon.

Lisa Monaco, the President's Advisor on Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, said, "Mr. Snowden's dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it. If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and — importantly — accept the consequences of his actions. He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers — not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he's running away from the consequences of his actions."
Software

Why Your Software Project Is Failing 118 118

An anonymous reader writes: At OSCON this year, Red Hat's Tom Callaway gave a talk entitled "This is Why You Fail: The Avoidable Mistakes Open Source Projects STILL Make." In 2009, Callaway was starting to work on the Chromium project—and to say it wasn't a pleasant experience was the biggest understatement Callaway made in his talk. Callaway said he likes challenges, but he felt buried by the project, and reached a point where he thought he should just quit his work. (Callaway said it's important to note that Chromium's code is not bad code; it's just a lot of code and a lot of code that Google didn't write.) This was making Callaway really frustrated, and people wanted to know what was upsetting him. Callaway wanted to be able to better explain his frustration, so he crafted this list which he called his "Points of Fail."