Peter Eckersley writes "EFF has released version 2 of the HTTPS Everywhere browser extension for Firefox, and a beta version for Chrome. The Firefox release has a major new feature called the Decentralized SSL Observatory. This optional setting submits anonymous copies of the HTTPS certificates that your browser sees to their Observatory database allowing them to detect attacks against the web's cryptographic infrastructure. It also allows us to send real-time warnings to users who are affected by cryptographic vulnerabilities or man-in-the-middle attacks. At the moment, the Observatory will send warnings if you connect to a device has a weak private key due to recently discovered random number generator bugs."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "MINIX 3.2.0 was released today (alternative announcement). Lots of code has been pulled in from NetBSD, replacing libc, much of the userspace and the bootloader. This should allow much more software to be ported easily (using the pkgsrc infrastructure which was previously adopted) while retaining the microkernel architecture. Also Clang is now used as a default compiler and ELF as the default binary format, which should allow MINIX to be ported to other architectures in the near future (in fact, they are currently looking to hire someone with embedded systems experience to port MINIX to ARM). A live CD is available." The big highlight is the new NetBSD based userland — it replaces the incredibly old fashioned and limited Minix userland. There's even experimental SMP support. Topping it all off, the project switched over to git which would make getting involved in development a bit easier for the casual hacker.
alphadogg writes "Hewlett-Packard has cut 275 jobs in its webOS group, as part of its strategy to turn the operating system over to the open-source community, according to IDG News Service. HP said last year that it would stop making devices that use the operating system which was developed by Palm for phones and tablets, and later decided to release the software under the Apache License 2.0. As webOS continues the transition to open-source software, HP no longer needs many of the engineering and other related positions that it required before, the company said in a statement. 'This creates a smaller and more nimble team that is well-equipped to deliver an open source webOS and sustain HP's commitment to the software over the long term,' it added."
will_edit_for_food writes "Are you fed up with anti-piracy acts that use scorched-earth tactics, like SOPA and PIPA — or secretly negotiated agreements like ACTA? Do you wonder why we the people don't propose our own laws, rather than just react whenever these bills slouch toward Congress to be born? Wouldn't you like a place where you and a few like-minded amateur lawmakers could get together and do it right? Public Knowledge has debuted the Internet Blueprint, a site for those technologically and politically inclined to gather ideas...and eventually submit them to sympathetic politicians."
itwbennett writes "In his keynote speech at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said the company once 'had various proposals to have [its] own currency [it was] going to call Google Bucks.' The idea was to implement a 'peer-to-peer money' system, but it was squelched by legal issues."
PatPending writes with this excerpt from CNet: "With just 2 percent of the Smithsonian's archive of 137 million items available to the public at any one time, an effort is under way at the world's largest museum and research institution to adopt 3D tools to expand its reach around the country. CNET has learned that the Smithsonian has a new initiative to create a series of 3D-printed models, exhibits, and scientific replicas — as well as to generate a new digital archive of 3D models of many of the physical objects in its collection. ... They've got technology on their side — with minimally invasive laser scanners they can capture the geometry of just about any object or site with accuracy down to the micron level."
compumike writes "CircuitLab today released a browser-based schematic editor and circuit simulator for the online electronics community. SPICE-like device models and mixed-mode simulation support allows engineers and hobbyists to tackle a wide range of board-level design problems. While most EDA software is Windows-only, CircuitLab is 100% web-based, Windows/Mac/Linux cross-platform, and requires no installation or plug-ins. Instead of today's typical forum posts with static screenshots from different desktop tools, the online electronics community can now use CircuitLab to share useful URLs (as well as PNGs and PDFs) which link directly to interactive, editable, runnable schematics. In just a few clicks, another designer can open that circuit, make a change, simulate it, and post the new version back to the community."
hey! writes "On February 18 of this year, global giant payment processor PayPal sent eBook publisher Smashwords an ultimatum: if Smashwords didn't remove all eBooks with certain erotic content from its catalog in the next several days, PayPal would immediately stop handling payments. Smashword's TOS already precluded child pornography, but now PayPal wants them to also censor depictions of consenting, non-related adults acting out incest fantasies. Likewise, fantasy novels in which human characters transform into non-humans are affected if those characters have sex. ZDNet has a summary of the impact of these changes, which would among other things ban Vladmir Nabokov's Lolita. As outrage mounts, finger pointing is in full swing. Smashwords blames PayPal, and PayPal blames the banks it deals with. The crux seems to be that erotica buyers have a higher rate of 'chargebacks' — customers who buy stuff then demand their money back. Fair enough, but is a customer really more likely to return a book because it depicts one kind of fantasy between consenting adults vs. another? Perhaps the problem is just the quality of writing." Note: as you can probably tell from the summary, the linked articles (while factual in nature) discuss subjects that may not be suitable for workplace reading.
coondoggie writes "Natural gas has never been much of an option for U.S. car drivers, and it's going to take a lot of effort by the government and auto manufacturers to make it a viable alternative to gas. But that's just what a $10 million program from the Department of Energy's advanced project development group The Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy (ARPA-E) aims to start anyway. ARPA-E's Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy (MOVE) program wants to develop a system 'that could enable natural gas vehicles with on-board storage and at-home refueling with a five-year payback or upfront cost differential of $2,000, which excludes the balance of system and installation costs.'"
pigrabbitbear writes "Google is boasting that more than 90 million people have signed up for its Google+. Those are pretty impressive numbers. I mean, if you had 90 million people at your disposal, you could do anything. You'd rule the Internet. Except there's one little problem: No one is using the site. The Wall Street Journal has the hard, unfiltered truth: According to comScore numbers, users spent an average of 3 minutes on G+ in the entire month of January. Facebook users spent 405 minutes, or nearly 7 hours, on the site. People managed to find 17 minutes to spare to add connections on LinkedIn. Heck, even Myspace users — many of whom are probably ghost accounts — surfed for eight minutes over the month."
PatPending writes with news that Google will be offering up to $1 million for the discovery of new exploits in their Chrome browser. This comes as part of the CanSecWest security conference, and the rewards will be broken down into categories: $60,000 for an exploit using only Chrome bugs, $40,000 for an exploit using a Chrome bug in conjunction with other bugs, and $20,000 for exploits that affect Chrome (and other browsers) but are due to bugs in other software, like Flash, Windows, or drivers. Google had originally planned to offer rewards through the Pwn2Own competition, but they were concerned by the contest rules: "Unfortunately, we decided to withdraw our sponsorship when we discovered that contestants are permitted to enter Pwn2Own without having to reveal full exploits (or even all of the bugs used!) to vendors. Full exploits have been handed over in previous years, but it’s an explicit non-requirement in this year’s contest, and that’s worrisome. ... We guarantee to send non-Chrome bugs to the appropriate vendor immediately."
Hugh Pickens writes "The LA Times reports that Rick Santorum defended his robocalls urging Democrats in Michigan to vote in today's critical primary, a tactic that has come under withering criticism from rival Mitt Romney as a 'terrible dirty trick' and a 'new low for his campaign.' Santorum says he reached out to Democratic voters, who can vote in the primary, to show that 'we can attract voters we need to win states like Michigan,' and noted that the former Massachusetts governor has wooed Democrats in the past and used Santorum's own words endorsing him in the 2008 race on a robocall of his own. 'I didn't complain about it. I don't complain. You know what, I'm a big guy. I can take it.' Romney crossed party lines himself to vote for Paul Tsongas in the 1992 Democratic primary over Bill Clinton in order to cause mischief for the general election. 'In Massachusetts, if you register as an independent, you can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary,' said Romney, who until he made an unsuccessful run for Senate in 1994 had spent his adult life as a registered independent."
miller60 writes "Despite the publicity around the U.S. Government's 'Cloud First' approach to IT, many agencies are reluctant to shift mission critical assets to third-party facilities. That's the analysis from Harris Corp., which has decided to get out of the cloud hosting business and sell a data center in Virginia, just two years after it spent $200 million to build and equip it. 'It's becoming clear that customers, both government and commercial, currently have a preference for on-premise versus off-premise solutions,' said Harris' CEO."
theodp writes "'Hate to see something happen to that multi-billion IPO of yours,' is essentially the IPO-threatening message Yahoo sent to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook investors on the eve of the social networking giant's IPO. Yahoo, unlike the Sopranos, is using IP as its muscle to collect its IPO-protection money: 'We must insist that Facebook either enter into a licensing agreement [for 10-20 Yahoo-owned patents] or we will be compelled to move forward unilaterally to protect our rights,' Yahoo explained in a statement alerting the NY Times to its demand. Yahoo issued a similar last-minute threat to Google on the eve of its 2004 IPO, prompting Google to pony up 2.7 million shares to settle Yahoo's patent lawsuit. BTW, should Facebook also be concerned that Amazon has been beefing up its PlanetAll social networking patents from the '90s, including the one issued Tuesday covering a Social Networking System Capable of Notifying Users of Profile Updates Made by Their Contacts?"
beaverdownunder writes with news from The Age that "Leaked e-mails from private U.S. intelligence agency Stratfor indicate that American prosecutors have had a sealed, secret indictment drawn up against Julian Assange as early as January, 2011." From the article: "The news that U.S. prosecutors drew up a secret indictment against Mr. Assange more than 12 months ago comes as the WikiLeaks founder awaits a British Supreme Court decision on his appeal against extradition to Sweden to be questioned in relation to sexual assault allegations. Mr. Assange, who has not been charged with any offence in Sweden, fears extradition to Stockholm will open the way for his extradition to the U.S. on possible espionage or conspiracy charges over WikiLeaks' publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked classified U.S. reports."