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The Tamagochi Singularity Made Real: Infinite Tamagochi Living On the Internet ( 84

szczys writes: Everyone loves Tamagochi, the little electronic keychains spawned in the '90s that let you raise digital pets. Some time ago, XKCD made a quip about an internet-based matrix of thousands of these digital entities. That quip is now a reality thanks to elite hardware hacker Jeroen Domburg (aka Sprite_TM). In his recent talk called "The Tamagochi Singularity" at the Hackaday SuperConference he revealed that he had built an infinite network of virtual Tamagochi by implementing the original hardware as a virtual machine. This included developing AI to keep them happy, and developing a protocol to emulate their IR interactions. But he went even further, hacking an original keychain to use wirelessly as a console which can look in on any of the virtual Tamagochi living on his underground network. This full-stack process is unparalleled in just about every facet: complexity, speed of implementation, awesome factor, and will surely spark legions of other Tamagochi Matrices.

UK Mobile Operator Could Block Ads At Network Level ( 103

Mickeycaskill writes: UK network operator EE says it is investigating the possibility of blocking adverts at a network level, allowing customers to limit the types and frequency of adverts they see in browsers and applications. The move is likely to concern digital publishers, many of whom rely on advertising revenue to fund their content. Ad blockers have become more popular in recent times, with many users employing them to save battery life, consume less data and protect against malvertising attacks. EE CEO Olaf Swantee said, "We think it’s important that, over time, customers start to be offered more choice and control over the level and intensity of ads on mobile. For EE, this is not about ad blocking, but about starting an important debate around customer choice, controls and the level of ads customers receive. This is an important debate that needs to happen soon."

Video Volvo Wants To Use Holograms To Sell Cars

Volvo is teaming up with Microsoft to use its HoloLens technology to show cars to prospective customers. HoloLens using augmented reality to add digital images to the real world.
The Gimp

20 Years of GIMP ( 351

jones_supa writes: Back in 1995, University of California students Peter Mattis and Kimball Spencer were members of the eXperimental Computing Facility, a Berkeley campus organization. In June of that year, the two hinted at their intentions to write a free graphical image manipulation program as a means of giving back to the free software community. On November 21st, 20 years ago today, Peter Mattis announced the availability of the "General Image Manipulation Program" on Usenet (later "GNU Image Manipulation Program"). Over the years, GIMP amassed a huge amount of new features designed for all kinds of users and practical applications: general image editing, retouching and color grading, digital painting, graphic design, science imaging, and so on. To celebrate the 20th anniversary, there is an update of the current stable branch of GIMP. The newly released version 2.8.16 features support for layer groups in OpenRaster files, fixes for layer groups support in PSD, various user interface improvements, OSX build system fixes, translation updates, and more.

The History of SQL Injection, the Hack That Will Never Go Away ( 193

An anonymous reader writes with this history of SQL injection attacks. From the Motherboard article: "SQL injection (SQLi) is where hackers typically enter malicious commands into forms on a website to make it churn out juicy bits of data. It's been used to steal the personal details of World Health Organization employees, grab data from the Wall Street Journal, and hit the sites of US federal agencies. 'It's the most easy way to hack,' the pseudonymous hacker w0rm, who was responsible for the Wall Street Journal hack, told Motherboard. The attack took only a 'few hours.' But, for all its simplicity, as well as its effectiveness at siphoning the digital innards of corporations and governments alike, SQLi is relatively easy to defend against. So why, in 2015, is SQLi still leading to some of the biggest breaches around?"
Emulation (Games)

Sony Quietly Adds PS2 Emulation To the PS4 ( 150

An anonymous reader writes: The Digital Foundry blog reports that Sony has added functionality to the PlayStation 4 that allows it to act as an emulator for some PlayStation 2 games. Surprisingly, the company did not mention that this functionality is live; a new Star Wars game bundle just happened to include three titles that were released on the PS2. From the article: "How can we tell? First of all, a system prompt appears telling you that select and start buttons are mapped to the left and right sides of the Dual Shock 4's trackpad. Third party game developers cannot access the system OS in this manner. Secondly, just like the PS2 emulator on PlayStation 3, there's an emulation system in place for handling PS2 memory cards. Thirdly, the classic PlayStation 2 logo appears in all of its poorly upscaled glory when you boot each title." Sony has confirmed the games are being emulated, but declined to provide any further details.
Social Networks

EFF launches Site To Track Censored Content On Social Media ( 39

Mark Wilson writes: There are many problems with the censoring of online content, not least that it can limit free speech. But there is also the question of transparency. By the very nature of censorship, unless you have been kept in the loop you would simply not know that anything had been censored. This is something the Electronic Frontier Foundation wants to change, and today the digital rights organization launches to blow the lid off online censorship. The site, run by EFF and Visualizing Impact, aims to reveal the content that is censored on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and YouTube — not just the 'what' but the 'why'. If you find yourself the subject of censorship, the site also explains how to lodge an appeal.

The War On Campus Sexual Assault Goes Digital 399 writes: According to a recent study of 27 schools, about one-quarter of female undergraduates said they had experienced nonconsensual sex or touching since entering college, but most of the students said they did not report it to school officials or support services. Now Natasha Singer reports at the NYT that in an effort to give students additional options — and to provide schools with more concrete data — a nonprofit software start-up in San Francisco called Sexual Health Innovations has developed an online reporting system for campus sexual violence. One of the most interesting features of Callisto is a matching system — in which a student can ask the site to store information about an assault in escrow and forward it to the school only if someone else reports another attack identifying the same assailant. The point is not just to discover possible repeat offenders. In college communities, where many survivors of sexual assault know their assailants, the idea of the information escrow is to reduce students' fears that the first person to make an accusation could face undue repercussions.

"It's this last option that makes Callisto unique," writes Olga Khazan. "Most rapes are committed by repeat offenders, yet most victims know their attackers. Some victims are reluctant to report assaults because they aren't sure whether a crime occurred, or they write it off as a one-time incident. Knowing about other victims might be the final straw that puts an end to their hesitation—or their benefit of the doubt. Callisto's creators claim that if they could stop perpetrators after their second victim, 60 percent of campus rapes could be prevented." This kind of system is based partly on a Michigan Law Review article about "information escrows," or systems that allow for the transmitting of sensitive information in ways that reduce "first-mover disadvantage" also known to economists as the "hungry penguin problem". As game theorist Michael Chwe points out, the fact that each person creates her report independently makes it less likely they'll later be accused of submitting copycat reports, if there are similarities between the incidents.

Microsoft Brings Its Embrace-Extend-Extinguish Game To K-12 Schools? 168

theodp writes: A year after it paid $2.5 billion to buy Minecraft, Microsoft has announced a partnership with that makes a Minecraft-themed introduction to programming a signature tutorial of this year's Hour of Code, which hopes to reach 200 million schoolchildren next month in what the Microsoft-funded nonprofit is billing as the largest learning event in history. "A core part of our mission to empower every person on the planet is equipping youth with computational thinking and problem-solving skills to succeed in an increasingly digital world," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a press release, which also notes that "Microsoft is gifting Windows Store credit to every educator who organizes an Hour of Code event worldwide." Of the Minecraft tutorial, CEO Hadi Partovi gushed, "Compared to what you would otherwise be doing for school, this is, like, the best thing ever."

Getting Started With GNU Radio ( 42

An anonymous reader writes: Software Defined Radio must be hard to create, right? Tools like GNU Radio and GNU Radio Companion make it much easier to build radios that can tune AM, FM, and even many digital modes. Of course, you need some kind of radio hardware, right? Not exactly. Hackaday has one of their video hands on tutorials about how to use GNU Radio with no extra hardware (or, optionally, a sound card that you probably already have). The catch? Well, you can't do real radio that way, but you can learn the basics and do audio DSP. The next installment promises to use some real SDR hardware and build an actual radio. But if you ever wanted to see if it was worth buying SDR hardware, this is a good way to see how you like working with GNU Radio before you spend any money.
United States

Rural Mississippi: The Land That the Internet Era Forgot ( 154

New submitter lesedeuezghe writes with this Wired story by W. Ralph Eubanks about the efforts of the Extension Service to broaden its scope from mostly agricultural information to bringing broadband to rural communities. "In sleepy public libraries, at Rotary breakfasts, and in town halls, he [Assistant Extension Professor Roberto Gallardo] gives PowerPoint presentations that seem calculated to fill rural audiences with healthy awe for the technological sublime. Rather than go easy, he starts with a rapid-fire primer on heady concepts like the Internet of Things, the mobile revolution, cloud computing, digital disruption, and the perpetual increase of processing power. ('It’s exponential, folks. It’s just growing and growing.') The upshot: If you don’t at least try to think digitally, the digital economy will disrupt you. It will drain your town of young people and leave your business in the dust. Then he switches gears and tries to stiffen their spines with confidence. Start a website, he’ll say. Get on social media. See if the place where you live can finally get a high-speed broadband connection—a baseline point of entry into modern economic and civic life."

Bitcoin Inventor Satoshi Nakamoto Nominated For Nobel Prize 153 writes: Nobel Prizes are given for making important — preferably fundamental — breakthroughs in the realm of ideas. That's just what Satoshi Nakamoto has done, according to Bhagwan Chowdhry, a professor of finance at UCLA. Chowdhry has nominated Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin, for a Nobel prize in economics. The Prize Committee for the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, popularly known as the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, has invited Chowdhry to nominate someone for the 2016 Prize. He started thinking about whose ideas are likely to have a disruptive influence in the twenty first century: "The invention of bitcoin — a digital currency — is nothing short of revolutionary," says Chowdhry. "It offers many advantages over both physical and paper currencies. It is secure, relying on almost unbreakable cryptographic code, can be divided into millions of smaller sub-units, and can be transferred securely and nearly instantaneously from one person to any other person in the world with access to internet bypassing governments, central banks and financial intermediaries." Satoshi Nakamoto's Bitcoin Protocol has also spawned exciting innovations in the FinTech space by showing how financial contracts — not just currencies — can be digitized, securely verified and stored, and transferred instantaneously from one party to another.

There's only one problem. Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? Suppose the Nobel Committee is convinced that Satoshi Nakamoto deserves the Prize. Now the problem it will face is how to contact him to announce that he has won the Prize. According to Chowdhry, Nakamoto can be informed by contacting him online just the same way people have communicated with him in the past. He has anonymously communicated with the computer science and cryptography community. If he accepts the award, he can verifiably communicate his acceptance. Finally, there is the issue of the Prize money. Nakamoto is already in possession of several hundred million U.S. dollars worth of bitcoins so the additional prize money may not mean much to him. "Only if he wants, the committee could also transfer the prize money to my bitcoin address, 165sAHBpLHujHbHx2zSjC898oXEz25Awtj," concludes Chowdhry. "Mr Nakamoto and I will settle later."

Interactive Fiction Competition Enters Its Third Decade ( 30

An anonymous reader writes: Voting is concluding this week for the 21st Annual Interactive Fiction Competition. All the games are available free online, and on November 15th the contest's organizers will announce the game that's received the highest average ratings. "This year's contestants entered 55 original text adventures – a new record," notes one technology blog, which argues that the annual competition provides a link to the history of both gaming and computers. New game-creating tools have "democratized" the field, and the contest may also ultimately lead game creators to explore even more forms of digital media.

Before Barbie's Brainy Makeover, Mattel Execs Met With White House, Google 125

theodp writes: Mattel came under fire last November over its portrayal of Computer Engineer Barbie as incompetent. But the toymaker is now drawing kudos for its new Imagine the Possibilities Barbie ad campaign (video), which shows little girls pretending to be professionals in real-life settings, including a college professor lecturing students about the brain. Ad Age, however, is cynical of the empowering spin on Barbie, which it says "comes across as a manipulative way to silence criticism." Interestingly, some of that criticism may have come from the White House.

WH Visitor Records show that Barbie's brainy makeover came after Mattel execs — Evelyn Mazzocco, Julia Pistor, Heather Lazarus — were summoned to the White House last April to meet with the White House Council on Women and Girls. A little Googling suggests other attendees at the sit-down included representatives of the nation's leading toy makers (Disney Consumer, Nickelodeon, Hasbro, American Girl), media giants (Disney Channels, Viacom, TIME, Scholastic, Univision, Participant Media, Cartoon Network, Netflix), retailers (Walmart, Target), educators, scientists, the U.S. Dept. of Education (including the Deputy Director of Michelle Obama's Reach Higher Initiative), philanthropists (Rockefeller, Harnisch Foundations) — and Google. Representing Google was CS Education in Media Program Manager Julie Ann Crommett, who has worked with Disney to shape programming to inspire girls to pursue CS in conjunction with the search giant's $50 million Made With Code initiative.

The April White House meeting appears to be a reschedule of a planned March meeting that was to have included other Mattel execs, including Stephanie Cota, Venetia Davie, and Lori Pantel, to whom the task of apologizing for Computer Engineer Barbie fell last November. For the first time in over a decade, Barbie was no longer the most popular girls' toy last holiday season, having lost her crown to Disney Princesses Elsa and Anna, who coincidentally teamed up with Google-backed last December to "teach President Obama to code" at a widely-publicized White House event.
Input Devices

Scan a Book In Five Minutes With a $199 Scanner? ( 221

New submitter David Rothman writes: Scan a 300-page book in just five minutes or so? For a mere $199 and shipping — the current price on Indiegogo — a Chinese company says you can buy a device to do just that. And a related video is most convincing. The Czur scanner from CzurTek uses a speedy 32-bit MIPS CPU and fast software for scanning and correction. It comes with a foot pedal and even offers WiFi support. Create a book cloud for your DIY digital library? Imagine the possibilities for Project Gutenberg-style efforts, schools, libraries and the print-challenged as well as for booklovers eager to digitize their paper libraries for convenient reading on cellphones, e-readers and tablets. Even at the $400 expected retail price, this could be quite a bargain if the claims are true. I myself have ordered one at the $199 price.

Microsoft Follows Mozilla In Considering Early Ban On SHA-1 Certificates ( 47

itwbennett writes: Following the first successful collision attack on the SHA-1 hashing algorithm last month, Mozilla said that it was considering a cut-off of July 1, 2016 to start rejecting all SHA-1 SSL certificates, ahead of an earlier scheduled date of Jan. 1, 2017. And now Microsoft is considering blocking the hashing algorithm on Windows by June next year.
The Media

BBC Lets Viewers Buy Shows and Episodes Permanently, But No 'Extras' ( 80

An anonymous reader writes: The BBC has opened a new online store which lets viewers purchase TV programs that do not expire in its iPlayer streaming outlet after thirty days, but which apparently remain stored for streaming in the same style as Amazon's video purchases. The BBC claims the extensive archive inventory is available only to UK-based viewers, though its VPN-blocking attempts do not currently seem to prevent purchases from outside the country. Additionally the BBC's high-quality disc extras do not seem to have made the jump from disc to digital, signifying possible further decline for 'value added' features such as commentaries and documentaries in the future.

Cloud Growth Spurs Data Center Land Grab In Northern Virginia ( 20

1sockchuck writes: Data center developers are buying up land in northern Virginia, preparing for explosive growth of cloud computing infrastructure. Digital Realty just bought land in Ashburn, Virginia to support 2 million square feet of data center space, while DuPont Fabros, RagingWire and Sabey have also locked up land parcels for future growth. Why is Ashburn so hot? Cloud builders crave proximity to an Internet exchange operated by Equinix, which itself just bought land for another 1 million square feet of colocation space. That's one of the reasons why Amazon Web Services operates more than 20 data centers in northern Virginia. "Data center demand is stronger today than it's ever been," said Bill Stein, the CEO of Digital Realty.
Hardware Hacking

Huge Mechanical Computers Used To Calculate Horse Racing Odds ( 63

szczys writes: The Pari-Mutuel system revolutionized how wagers were made on horse races starting in the late 1800s. It moved away from gambling against the house, and adjusted the odds based on how many people were placing wagers on a particular horse. Calculating and publicly displaying the changing odds was slow and labor intensive until engineers took a crack at the problem. They created Tote Boards; large mechanical computers which connected to each betting window with levers and cables. Each pull of a lever recalculated the odds which were displayed on large mechanical displays for all to see. Tote Boards were built all over the world and used until digital computing displaced them.

How DMCA Rulemaking Has a Chilling Effect On Security Research ( 31

citadrianne writes: Jay Radcliffe is a security researcher with diabetes. In 2011, he gave a talk at Black Hat, showing how his personal insulin pump could be hacked—with potentially deadly consequences. As a result of his 2011 presentation, he worked with the Department of Homeland Security and the Food and Drug Administration to address security vulnerabilities in insulin pumps. "The specific technical details of that research have never been published in order to protect patients using those devices," he wrote in his testimony to the Librarian of Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office. Every three years, the Librarian of Congress puts a whole bunch of people through a twisted bureaucratic process called DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) rulemaking. Technically speaking, DMCA rulemaking doesn't make things illegal or legal per se, but many people—like Jay Radcliffe—look to the rulemaking for a green light to do their work.