China

Houston Firm NanoRacks To Take Chinese Experiment To International Space Station 21

MarkWhittington writes: The Houston Chronicle's Eric Berger reports that for the first time a Chinese experiment will fly on the International Space Station, thanks to an arrangement between a research group based at the Beijing Institute of Technology and a private firm in Houston called NanoRacks. The deal seems to have been designed to avoid the prohibition against space cooperation between the Chinese regime and NASA, since the space agency is not directly involved. The experiment, which involves the effects that space radiation has on DNA, will be carried to the ISS by another private firm, SpaceX. Presumably the experiment would be run by a non NASA crew member to avoid any direct involvement with the space agency.
Businesses

LinkedIn (Temporarily) Backs Down After Uproar At Contact Export Removal 42

Mark Wilson writes: LinkedIn caused a storm a couple of days ago when it removed the option to instantly download contacts. Many users of the professional social network were more than a little irked to discover that while contact exporting was still available, a wait of up to three days had been put in place. Unsurprisingly, users revolted, having been particularly upset by the fact the change was implemented with no warning or announcement. But the company has managed to turn things around by quickly backtracking on its decision after listening to a stream of complaints on Twitter.
Twitter

Twitter Yanks Tweets That Repeat Copyrighted Joke 141

Mark Wilson writes at Beta News: Can a joke be copyrighted? Twitter seems to think so. As spotted by Twitter account Plagiarism is Bad a number of tweets that repeat a particular joke are being hidden from view. The tweets have not been deleted as such, but their text has been replaced with a link to Twitter's Copyright and DMCA policy. Quality of the joke itself aside -- no accounting for taste -- this seems a strange move for a site and service which is largely based around verbatim retransmission of other people's low-character-count declarations, recipes, questions, and Yes, jokes.
Patents

HEVC Advance Announces H.265 Royalty Rates, Raises Some Hackles 184

An anonymous reader writes: The HEVC Advance patent pool has announced the royalty rates for their patent license for HEVC (aka H.265) video. HEVC users must pay these fees in addition to the license fees payable to the competing MPEG LA HEVC patent pool. With HEVC Advance's fees targeting 0.5% of content owner revenue which could translate to licensing costs of over $100M a year for companies like Facebook and Netflix, Dan Rayburn from Streaming Media advocates that "content owners band together and agree not to license from HEVC Advance" in the hope that "HEVC Advance will fail in the market and be forced to change strategy, or change their terms to be fair and reasonable." John Carmack, Oculus VR CTO, has cited the new patent license as a reason to end his efforts to encode VR video with H.265.
The Internet

Secret Service Agents Stake Out the Ugliest Corners of the Internet 169

HughPickens.com writes: Josephine Wolff reports at The Atlantic that Secret Service Internet Threat Desk is a group of agents tasked with identifying and assessing online threats to the president and his family. The first part of this mission — finding threats — is in many ways made easier by the Internet: all you have to do is search! Pulling up every tweet which uses the words "Obama" and "assassinate" takes mere seconds, and the Secret Service has tried to make it easier for people to draw threats to its attention by setting up its own Twitter handle, @secretservice, for users to report threatening messages to. The difficulty is trying to figure out which ones should be taken seriously.

The Secret Service categorizes all threats, online and offline alike, into one of three categories. Class 3 threats are considered the most serious, and require agents to interview the individual who issued the threat and any acquaintances to determine whether that person really has the capability to carry out the threat. Class 2 threats are considered to be serious but issued by people incapable of actually follow up on their intentions, either because they are in jail or located at a great distance from the president. And Class 1 threats are those that may seem serious at first, but are determined not to be. The overall number of threats directed at the first family that require investigation has stayed relatively steady at about 10 per day — except for the period when Obama was first elected, when the Secret Service had to follow up on roughly 50 threats per day. "That includes threats on Twitter," says Ronald Kessler, author of In the President's Secret Service. "It makes no difference to [the Secret Service] how a threat is communicated. They can't take that chance of assuming that because it's on Twitter it's less serious."
Google

Google Staffers Share Salary Info With Each Other; Management Freaks 429

Nerval's Lobster writes: Imagine a couple of employees at your company create a spreadsheet that lists their salaries. They place the spreadsheet on an internal network, where other employees soon add their own financial information. Within a day, the project has caught on like wildfire, with people not only listing their salaries but also their bonuses and other compensation-related info. While that might sound a little far-fetched, that's exactly the scenario that recently played out at Google, according to an employee, Erica Baker, who detailed the whole incident on Twitter. While management frowned upon employees sharing salary data, she wrote, "the world didn't end everything didn't go up in flames because salaries got shared." For years, employees and employers have debated the merits (and drawbacks) of revealing salaries. While most workplaces keep employee pay a tightly guarded secret, others have begun fiddling with varying degrees of transparency, taking inspiration from studies that have shown a higher degree of salary-related openness translates into happier workers. (Other studies (PDF) haven't suggested the same effect.) Baker claims the spreadsheet compelled more Google employees to ask and receive "equitable pay based on data in the sheet."
OS X

A Tweet-Sized Exploit Can Get Root On OS X 10.10 130

vivaoporto writes: The Register reports a root-level privilege-escalation exploit that allows one to gain administrator-level privileges on an OS X Yosemite Mac using code so small that fits in a tweet. The security bug, documented by iOS and OS X guru Stefan Esserwhich, can be exploited by malware and attackers to gain total control of the computer. This flaw is present in the latest version of Yosemite, OS X 10.10.4, and the beta, version 10.10.5 but is already fixed in the preview beta of El Capitan (OS X 10.11) Speaking of exploits: Reader trailrunner 7 notes that "HP’s Zero Day Initiative has released four new zero days in Internet Explorer that can lead to remote code execution."
Facebook

New York Judge Rules Against Facebook In Search Warrant Case 157

itwbennett writes: Last year, Facebook appealed a court decision requiring it to hand over data, including photos and private messages, relating to 381 user accounts. (Google, Microsoft, and Twitter, among other companies backed Facebook in the dispute). On Tuesday, Judge Dianne Renwick of the New York State Supreme Court ruled against Facebook, saying that Facebook has no legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of search warrants served on its users.
Shark

Since Receiving Satellite Tags, Some Sharks Have Become Stars of Social Media 31

Lucas123 writes: A research project that tags the world's most dangerous sharks with four different tracking devices and then offers all the data to the public has taken off, garnering hundreds of thousands of users; one shark even has more then 80,000 followers on Twitter. OCEARCH, a non-profit shark tracking project, has tagged about 130 sharks, from great whites and tigers to hammerheads and makos, and open sourced the data in the hope that it will create citizen scientists who will follow the animals and care about what happens to them. To further personify the apex predators, the researchers at OCEARCH have also given the sharks names such as Katharine and Mary Lee, two sharks that are more than 14 feet long and weight more than a ton. OCEARCH's shark tracker has garnered 10 times the traffic it had last year, and it's expected to grow 20 times more by the end of this year. Along with data from satellite, acoustic and accelerometer tags, the project expects to begin using big data analytics to offer more granular data about the animals and their lives to scientists and the public at large.

The Lone Gunmen Are Not Dead 70

He Who Has No Name writes: It may have been one of Slashdot's most memorable front-page gaffes, but apparently there's no harm and no foul — because the Lone Gunmen are set to ride again in the X-Files return. Comicbook.com reports, "The Lone Gunmen, the X-Files' trio of conspiracy theorists, are set to appear in Fox's six-episode event. The three characters were played by Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund, and Bruce Harwood. Haglund, who played the gunman 'Ringo,' confirmed his and his compatriots' return on Twitter today." We'll see how see how series creator Chris Carter handles their apparently greatly-exaggerated demise, and whether the explanation used in the print comics comes into play.
NASA

NASA Funded Study States People Could Be On the Moon By 2021 For $10 Billion 248

MarkWhittington writes: The Houston Chronicle reported that NextGen Space LLC has released the results of a study that suggests that if the United States were to choose to do space in some new and creative ways, American moon boots could be on the lunar surface by 2021. The cost from the authorization to the first crewed lunar landing would be just $10 billion. The study was partly funded by NASA and was reviewed by the space agency and commercial space experts.
The Media

Twitter Stock Jumps Nearly 8 Percent After Fake Report 92

vivaoporto writes: As noted by Re/code and many other outlets, Twitter stock jumped nearly 8 percent after a bogus report, attributed to Bloomberg News, said Twitter had received a $31 billion buyout offer. The fake story, which cited "people with knowledge of the situation," appeared on a website (Google Cache version) made to look like Bloomberg's business news page and claimed the company had received a takeover offer worth $31 billion.

The website domain, bloomberg.market (now suspended), was registered Friday, according to a search of ICANN's records. The identity of the person or company who registered it is not publicly available. Close scrutiny flagged a number of questionable elements in the report, like the name of Twitter's former chief executive, Richard Costolo, being misspelled. By late afternoon, the web page for bloomberg.market was no longer operable. A message posted on the page said, "account suspended." A spokesman for Bloomberg confirmed the takeover article was fake.

In May, a fake bid for another company, Avon Products, sent its shares as much as 20 percent higher. That offer involved a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Last month the SEC sued a Bulgarian man, Nedko Nedev, and said he and five others worked together to violate securities laws by creating fake takeover offers. Robert Heim, a former lawyer at the SEC, said these kinds of schemes will probably persist because news spreads so fast over social media and traders have to react so quickly.
Privacy

Anonymizing Wi-Fi Device Project Unexpectedly Halted 138

An anonymous reader notes that a project to develop an anonymizing Wi-Fi device has been canceled under mysterious circumstances. The device, called Proxyham, was unveiled a couple weeks ago by Rhino Security Labs. They said it would use low-frequency radio channels to connect a computer to public Wi-Fi hotspots up to 2.5 miles away, thus obscuring a user's actual location. But a few days ago the company announced it would be halting development and canceling a talk about it at Def Con, which would have been followed with a release of schematics and source code. They apologized, but appear to be unable to say anything further.

"In fact, all [the speaker] can say is that the talk is canceled, the ProxyHam source code and documentation will never be made public, and the ProxyHam units developed for Las Vegas have been destroyed. The banner at the top of the Rhino Security website promoting ProxyHam has gone away too. It's almost as if someone were trying to pretend the tool never existed." The CSO article speculates that a government agency killed the project and issued a gag order about it. A post at Hackaday calls this idea absurd and discusses the hardware needed to build a Proxyham. They say using it would be "a violation of the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act, and using encryption over radio violates FCC regulations. That’s illegal, it will get you a few federal charges — but so will blowing up a mailbox with some firecrackers." They add, "What you’re seeing is just the annual network security circus and it’s nothing but a show."
Education

CSTA: Google Surveying Educators On Unconscious Biases of Students, Parents 173

theodp writes: According to a Computer Science Teachers Association tweet, Google is reportedly asking educators to assess the unconscious bias of students and their parents for the search giant. "We are in the early stages of learning how unconscious bias plays out in schools, and who would benefit most from bias busting materials," begins the linked-to 5-page Google Form, which sports a ub-edu@google.com email address, but lists no contact name. "This survey should take 15 minutes to complete, and your responses are confidential, meaning that your feedback will not be attributed to you and the data will only be used in aggregate form." The form asks educators to "list the names of organizations, tools, and resources that you have used to combat unconscious bias," which is defined as "the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner." A sample question: "Who do you think would benefit most from unconscious bias training at your school (or program)? Rank the following people in order (1=would most benefit to 5=would benefit least) training: Student, Parent (or guardian), Teacher (or educator), Guidance counselor, Principal." Google deflected criticism for its lack of women techies in the past by blaming parents' unconscious biases for not steering their girls to study computer science, suggesting an intervention was needed. "Outreach programs," advised Google, "should include a parent education component, so that parents learn how to actively encourage their daughters."
Advertising

Twitter Yanks Ads UK Activists Say Could Trigger Seizures 63

After complaints from UK charity Epilepsy Action, Twitter pulled after less than a day two ads that the group said might cause epileptic seizures. The in-house ads, in the 6-second format of Twitter-owned Vine, consisted of flashing video which the Epilepsy Action said "was dangerous, as it could potentially produce seizures in people who have photo-sensitive epilepsy."
Education

Well-Played: Microsoft Parlays NSF Video 'Remake' Into National CS K-12 Crisis 69

theodp writes: K–12 computer science and information technology teachers head to Grapevine, TX this week for the 2015 CSTA Conference. A glance at the draft agenda shows a remarkable number of presenters employed by or tied to two-year-old Code.org, the tech-bankrolled nonprofit that coincidentally sprung up together with Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC just months after Microsoft called for the creation of a national K-12 CS and tech immigration crisis to advance its agenda. Code.org's shaping of the nation's CS K-12 education began with the release of its tech-billionaire and celebrity-studded, slickly-produced What Most Schools Don't Teach video, which went viral on YouTube after being promoted by politicians, Facebook, Google, and a Microsoft-sponsored theatrical release, sparking a groundswell of interest in expanding K-12 CS education, succeeding where a similarly-themed-and-messaged but decidedly-amateurish National Science Foundation video of real-but-little-known computer scientists failed just months earlier (YouTube Doubler comparison). (More, below.)
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: Measuring (and Constraining) Mobile Data Use? 129

An anonymous reader writes: I've carried a smart phone for several years, but for much of that time it's been (and I suspect this is true for anyone for whom money is an object) kept pretty dumb — at least for anything more data-intensive than Twitter and the occasional map checking. I've been using more of the smart features lately (Google Drive and Keep are seductive.) Since the data package can be expensive, though, and even though data is cheaper than it used to be, that means I don't check Facebook often, or upload pictures to friends by email, unless I'm in Wi-Fi zone (like home, or a coffee shop, etc). Even so, it seems I'm using more data than I realized, and I'd like to keep it under the 2GB allotment I'm paying for. I used to think half a gig was generous, but now I'm getting close to that 2GB I've paid for, most months.

This makes me a little paranoid, which leads to my first question: How accurate are carriers' own internal tools for measuring use, and do you recommend any third-party apps for keeping track of data use? Ideally, I'd like a detailed breakdown by app, over time: I don't think I'm at risk for data-stealing malware on my phone (the apps I use are either built-in, or plain-vanilla ones from Google's store, like Instagram, Twitter's official client, etc.), but of course really well-crafted malware would be tough to guard against or to spot. And even if they can be defeated, more and more sites (Facebook, for one) now play video just because I've rolled over a thumbnail.
Read on for second part of the question.
Twitter

Hacker Group That Hit Twitter, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft Intensifies Attacks 40

itwbennett writes: The hacker group, which security researchers from Kaspersky Lab and Symantec call Wild Neutron or Morpho, has broken into the networks of over 45 large companies since 2012. After the 2013 attacks against Twitter, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft were highly publicized, the group went underground and temporarily halted its activity. However, its attacks resumed in 2014 and have since intensified, according to separate reports released Wednesday by Kaspersky Lab and Symantec.
Social Networks

Running a Town Over Twitter 80

dkatana writes: You may call Jun an ancient town — it was founded by Romans 2,200 years ago. But Jun's mayor is known worldwide for using the latest technology to run the city. Back in 1999, when he was deputy mayor, the town declared internet a basic universal right for its citizens. And now political parties run "virtual" campaigns without printing posters. But the most impressive accomplishment of Jun's mayor is running the entire town administration and public services using Twitter. He has more followers (350 k) than the mayor of NY. A third of the 3,800 residents have Twitter accounts, and they use the platform to interact with the city administration at all levels.