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Crime

Hewlett-Packard Admits To International Bribery and Money Laundering Schemes 139

Posted by samzenpus
from the was-that-wrong? dept.
First time accepted submitter CP (1315157) writes "Hewlett-Packard has admitted to [bribery and money laundering] in order to profiteer off of lucrative government contracts in Russia, Poland, and Mexico, according to court documents. HP's guilty plea carries with it a $108 million penalty — a combination of SEC penalties, as well as criminal fines and forfeitures paid out to the Department of Justice. Thus far no criminal charges have been brought against American HP executives. The multi-agency investigation, which was conducted by multi-national law enforcement partners, the FBI, IRS, and SEC, has revealed kleptocracies in the three foreign governments and corruption and dishonesty among HP corporate fat cats."
Hardware

Used IT Equipment Can Be Worth a Fortune (Video) 79

Posted by Roblimo
from the how-much-is-that-mainframe-in-the-window? dept.
This is a conversation with Frank Muscarello, CEO and co-founder of MarkiTx, a company that brokers used and rehabbed IT equipment. We're not talking about an iPhone 3 you might sell on craigslist, but enterprise-level items. Cisco. Oracle. IBM mainframes. Racks full of HP or Dell servers. That kind of thing. In 2013 IDC pegged the value of the used IT equipment market at $70 billion, so this is a substantial business. MarkiTx has three main bullet points: *Know what your gear is worth; *Sell with ease at a fair price; and *Buy reliable, refurbished gear. Pricing is the big deal, Frank says. With cars you have Cars.com and Kelley Blue Book. There are similar pricing services for commercial trucks, construction equipment, and nearly anything else a business or government agency might buy or sell used. For computers? Not so much. Worth Monkey calls itself "The blue book for used electronics and more," but it only seems to list popular consumer equipment. I tried looking up several popular Dell PowerEdge servers. No joy. An HTC Sensation phone or an Acer Aspire notebook? Sure. With price ranges based on condition, same as Kelley Blue Book does with cars. Now back to the big iron. A New York bank wants to buy new servers. Their old ones are fully depreciated in the tax sense, and their CTO can show stats saying they are going to suffer from decreasing reliability. So they send out for bids on new hardware. Meanwhile, there's a bank in Goa, India, that is building a server farm on a tight budget. If they can buy used servers from the New York bank, rehabbed and with a warranty, for one-third what they'd cost new, they are going to jump on this deal the same way a small earthmoving operation buys used dump trucks a multinational construction company no longer wants.

In February, 2013 Computerworld ran an article titled A new way to sell used IT equipment about MarkiTx. The main differentiator between MarkiTx and predecessor companies is that this is primarily an information company. It is not eBay, where plenty of commercial IT equipment changes hands, nor is it quite like UK-based Environmental Computer, which deals in used and scrap computer hardware. It is, rather, the vanguard of computer hardware as a commodity; as something you don't care about as long as it runs the software you need it to run, and you can buy it at a good price -- or more and more, Frank notes -- rent a little bit of its capacity in the form of a cloud service, a direction in which an increasing number of business are moving for their computing needs. Even more fun: Let's say you are (or would like to be) a local or regional computer service company and you want to buy or sell or broker a little used hardware. You could use MarkiTx's price information to set both your buy and sell prices, same as a car dealer uses Kelley Blue Book. We seem to be moving into a whole new era of computer sales and resales. MarkiTx is one company making a splash in this market. But there are others, and there are sure to be even more before long. (Alternate video link.)
Media

Why Movie Streaming Services Are Unsatisfying — and Will Stay That Way 323

Posted by Soulskill
from the shut-up-and-take-my-money dept.
mendax sends this excerpt from a New York Times op-ed: "like Napster in the late 1990s, [torrent-streaming app Popcorn Time] offered a glimpse of what seemed like the future, a model for how painless it should be to stream movies and TV shows online. The app also highlighted something we've all felt when settling in for a night with today’s popular streaming services, whether Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, or Google or Microsoft’s media stores: They just aren't good enough. ... In the music business, Napster’s vision eventually became a reality. Today, with services like Spotify and Rdio, you can pay a monthly fee to listen to whatever you want, whenever you want. But in the movie and TV business, such a glorious future isn't in the offing anytime soon.

According to industry experts, some of whom declined to be quoted on the record because of the sensitivities of the nexus of media deals involved, we aren’t anywhere close to getting a service that allows customers to pay a single monthly fee for access to a wide range of top-notch movies and TV shows.Instead of a single comprehensive service, the future of digital TV and movies is destined to be fragmented across several services, at least for the next few years. We’ll all face a complex decision tree when choosing what to watch, and we’ll have to settle for something less than ideal."
United States

White House To Propose Ending NSA Phone Records Collection 208

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the kind-of-sort-of dept.
The New York Times reported last night that the White House is planning to introduce a legislative package that would mostly end the NSA's bulk collection of phone records. Instead, phone companies would be required to hand over records up to "two hops" from a target number. Phone companies would be required to retain records for 18 months (already legally mandated) instead of the NSA storing records for five years. It does not appear that secret courts and secret orders from the court would be abolished, however. From the article: "The new type of surveillance court orders envisioned by the administration would require phone companies to swiftly provide records in a technologically compatible data format, including making available, on a continuing basis, data about any new calls placed or received after the order is received, the officials said ... The administration’s proposal would also include a provision clarifying whether Section 215 of the Patriot Act, due to expire next year unless Congress reauthorizes it, may in the future be legitimately interpreted as allowing bulk data collection of telephone data. ... The proposal would not, however, affect other forms of bulk collection under the same provision."
The Military

Iran Builds Mock-up of Nimitz-Class Aircraft Carrier 298

Posted by timothy
from the why-not-an-enterprise-class-a-starship? dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "The NYT reports that US intelligence analysts studying satellite photos of Iranian military installations say that Iran is building a mock-up of an American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with the same distinctive shape and style of the Navy's Nimitz-class carriers, as well as the Nimitz's number 68 neatly painted in white near the bow. Mock aircraft can be seen on the flight deck. The mock-up, which American officials described as more like a barge than a warship, has no nuclear propulsion system and is only about two-thirds the length of a typical 1,100-foot-long Navy carrier. Intelligence officials do not believe that Iran is capable of building an actual aircraft carrier. "Based on our observations, this is not a functioning aircraft carrier; it's a large barge built to look like an aircraft carrier," says Cmdr. Jason Salata. "We're not sure what Iran hopes to gain by building this. If it is a big propaganda piece, to what end?" Navy intelligence analysts surmise that the vessel, which Fifth Fleet wags have nicknamed the Target Barge, is something that Iran could tow to sea, anchor and blow up — while filming the whole thing to make a propaganda point, if, say, the talks with the Western powers over Iran's nuclear program go south. "It is not surprising that Iranian military forces might use a variety of tactics — including military deception tactics — to strategically communicate and possibly demonstrate their resolve in the region," said an American official who has closely followed the construction of the mock-up. The story has set off chatter about how weird and dumb Iran is for building this giant toy boat but according to Marcy Wheeler if you compare Iran's barge with America's troubled F-35 program you end up with an even bigger propaganda prop. "I'm not all that sure what distinguishes the F-35 except the cost: Surely Iran hasn't spent the equivalent of a trillion dollars — which is what we'll spend on the F-35 when it's all said and done — to build its fake boat," writes Wheeler. "So which country is crazier: Iran, for building a fake boat, or the US for funding a never-ending jet program?""
Technology

Jesse Jackson To Take On Silicon Valley's Lack of Diversity 397

Posted by Soulskill
from the equality-in-industry dept.
New submitter wyattstorch516 writes "San Jose Mecury News reports that Jesse Jackson will lead a delegation to HP's next board meeting to discuss the hiring of technology companies in regard to African-Americans and Latinos. 'About one in 14 tech workers is black or Latino both in the Silicon Valley and nationally. Blacks and Hispanics make up 13.1 and 16.9 percent of the U.S. population, respectively, according to the most recent Census data.' Jackson sent a letter to HP, Apple, Google, Twitter, Facebook, and others about meeting to discuss diversity issues."
The Almighty Buck

The Billionaires Privatizing American Science 279

Posted by Soulskill
from the easy-funding-in-four-words:-lab-rat-reality-show dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Government-funded science is struggling in the United States. With the unstable economy over the past decade and the growing hostility to science in popular rhetoric, basic research money is getting hard to find. Part of the gap is being filled by billionaire philanthropists. Steven Edwards of the American Association for the Advancement of Science says, 'For better or worse, the practice of science in the 21st century is becoming shaped less by national priorities or by peer-review groups and more by the particular preferences of individuals with huge amounts of money.' Vast amounts of research are now driven by names like Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, David Koch, and Eric Schmidt. While this helps in some ways, it can hurt in others. 'Many of the patrons, they say, are ignoring basic research — the kind that investigates the riddles of nature and has produced centuries of breakthroughs, even whole industries — for a jumble of popular, feel-good fields like environmental studies and space exploration. ... Fundamentally at stake, the critics say, is the social contract that cultivates science for the common good.'"
Education

Amplify Education's New Intel Tablet Begs For Abuse 33

Posted by timothy
from the it-was-askin'-for-it dept.
theodp writes "Bring it on, suggests the video for The Amplify Tablet, an Intel device (specs) developed for Rupert Murdoch's Amplify Education, which shows kids wrestling with, dropping, and even splashing the device. So is a ruggedized 10.1" device, which appears to be Amplify's answer to earlier fragility problems, the future of high-tech education? Or is go-big-or-go-home with a 27" touch screen the way to go, perhaps in some kind of next-gen-flip-top-school-desk? Or — cost be damned — are separate classroom and home devices what are really needed?"
Education

College Board To Rethink the SAT, Partner With Khan Academy 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the abba-cadaba dept.
An anonymous reader writes "According to the NY Times, 'Saying its college admission exams do not focus enough on the important academic skills, the College Board announced on Wednesday a fundamental rethinking of the SAT, eliminating obligatory essays, ending the longstanding penalty for guessing wrong and cutting obscure vocabulary words. ... The SAT's rarefied vocabulary words will be replaced by words that are common in college courses, such as "empirical" and "synthesis." The math questions, now scattered widely across many topics, will focus more narrowly on linear equations, functions and proportional thinking. The use of a calculator will no longer be allowed on some of the math sections.' The College Board will also be working with Khan Academy to provide students with free, online practice problems and instructional videos. The new version of the SAT will be introduced in 2016."
The Military

WikiLeaks Cables Foreshadow Russian Instigation of Ukrainian Military Action 479

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-only-anybody-had-bothered-to-read-them dept.
Now that Russia has sent troops to seize the Crimean Peninsula, international politics are tense and frantic. An anonymous reader notes an article from Joshua Keating at Slate, which points out that some of the diplomatic cables on WikiLeaks illustrate how this situation is not at all unexpected. Quoting a cable from October, 2009: "... pro-Russian forces in Crimea, acting with funding and direction from Moscow, have systematically attempted to increase communal tensions in Crimea in the two years since the Orange Revolution. They have done so by cynically fanning ethnic Russian chauvinism towards Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians, through manipulation of issues like the status of the Russian language, NATO, and an alleged Tatar threat to 'Slavs,' in a deliberate effort to destabilize Crimea, weaken Ukraine, and prevent Ukraine's movement west into institutions like NATO and the EU." The article points out another cable from a few days later, which was titled, "Ukraine-Russia: Is Military Conflict No Longer Unthinkable?"
United States

The Science of Solitary Confinement 326

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the breaking-your-mind-reforms-you dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Joseph Stromberg writes in Smithsonian Magazine that while the practice of solitary confinement is being discontinued in most countries, it's become increasingly routine within the American prison system. It is estimated that between 80,000 and 81,000 prisoners are in some form of solitary confinement nationwide. Once employed largely as a short-term punishment, it's now regularly used as way of disciplining prisoners indefinitely, isolating them during ongoing investigations, coercing them into cooperating with interrogations and even separating them from perceived threats within the prison population at their request.

Most prisoners in solitary confinement spend at least 23 hours per day restricted to cells of 80 square feet, not much larger than a king-size bed, devoid of stimuli (some are allowed in a yard or indoor area for an hour or less daily), and are denied physical contact on visits from friends and family ... A majority of those surveyed experienced symptoms such as dizziness, heart palpitations, chronic depression, while 41 percent reported hallucinations, and 27 percent had suicidal thoughts...

But the real problem is that solitary confinement is ineffective as a rehabilitation technique and indelibly harmful to the mental health of those detained achieving the opposite of the supposed goal of rehabilitating them for re-entry into society. Rick Raemisch, the new director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, voluntarily spent twenty hours in solitary confinement in one of his prisons and wrote an op-ed about his experience in The New York Times. 'If we can't eliminate solitary confinement, at least we can strive to greatly reduce its use,' wrote Raemisch."
The Almighty Buck

Mt. Gox Gone? Apparent Theft Shakes Bitcoin World 695

Posted by timothy
from the repercussions-will-repurcate dept.
mendax was one of many readers to write with news about the apparent shutdown of Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, in the wake of massive theft. "The New York Times is reporting that Mt. Gox, the most prominent Bitcoin exchange, 'appeared to be on the verge of collapse late Monday, raising questions about the future of a volatile marketplace.' 'On Monday night, a number of leading Bitcoin companies jointly announced that Mt. Gox, the largest exchange for most of Bitcoin's existence, was planning to file for bankruptcy after months of technological problems and what appeared to have been a major theft. A document circulating widely in the Bitcoin world said the company had lost 744,000 Bitcoins in a theft that had gone unnoticed for years. That would be about 6 percent of the 12.4 million Bitcoins in circulation.' Maybe the U.S. Dollar isn't so bad after all." Forbes goes further, and says flatly that Mt. Gox has shut down; Wired calls it an implosion. Reader electron gunner links to the alleged leaked document which outlines the exchange's crisis strategy. Watch this story for updates, since there are bound to be new developments.
Australia

NSA Ally Spied on US Law Firm 162

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-so-privileged-communications dept.
mendax points out a story at the NY Times about evidence that the Australian Signals Directorate notified the NSA in 2013 that it was spying on discussions between Indonesia and an American law firm. The information gathered by the Directorate included material covered by attorney-client privilege. The Times says: "Most attorney-client conversations do not get special protections under American law from N.S.A. eavesdropping. Amid growing concerns about surveillance and hacking, the American Bar Association in 2012 revised its ethics rules to explicitly require lawyers to 'make reasonable efforts' to protect confidential information from unauthorized disclosure to outsiders. ... Several newly disclosed documents provide details of the cooperation between the United States and Australia, which share facilities and highly sensitive intelligence, including efforts to break encryption and collect phone call data in Indonesia. Both nations have trade and security interests in Indonesia, where Islamic terrorist groups that threaten the West have bases."
Transportation

Study Finds Methane Leaks Negate Benefits of Natural Gas-Powered Vehicles 102

Posted by samzenpus
from the zero-sum-game dept.
Lasrick writes "Coral Davenport at the NY Times reports on a study to be published on Friday: '...a surprising new report...concludes that switching buses and trucks from traditional diesel fuel to natural gas could actually harm the planet's climate.' The report apparently documents that the leaks of methane that occur when drilling for natural gas more than make up for the climate change benefits of using natural gas as a transportation fuel. The report will be published Friday in the journal Science."
Government

Snowden Used Software Scraper, Say NSA Officials 227

Posted by timothy
from the what-would-christopher-boyce-do? dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from the New York Times: "Intelligence officials investigating how Edward J. Snowden gained access to a huge trove of the country's most highly classified documents say they have determined that he used inexpensive and widely available software to 'scrape' the National Security Agency's networks, and kept at it even after he was briefly challenged by agency officials. Using 'web crawler' software designed to search, index and back up a website, Mr. Snowden 'scraped data out of our systems' while he went about his day job, according to a senior intelligence official. 'We do not believe this was an individual sitting at a machine and downloading this much material in sequence,' the official said. The process, he added, was 'quite automated.'"
HP

Not Just Healthcare.gov: NASA Has 'Significant Problems' With $2.5B IT Contract 176

Posted by Soulskill
from the moving-at-the-speed-of-government dept.
schwit1 writes "According to the Inspector General, NASA and HP Enterprise Services have encountered significant problems implementing the $2.5 billion Agency Consolidated End-User Services (ACES) contract, which provides desktops, laptops, computer equipment and end-user services such as help desk and data backup. Those problems include 'a failed effort to replace most NASA employees' computers within the first six months and low customer satisfaction,' the report states (PDF). It adds that NASA lacked the technical and cultural readiness for an agencywide IT delivery model and did not offer clear contract requirements, while HP failed to deliver on multiple promises."
HP

HP To Charge For Service Packs and Firmware For Out-of-Warranty Customers 385

Posted by Soulskill
from the customer-service-you-can-count-on dept.
New submitter josh itnc writes "In a move that is sure to put a wedge between HP and their customers, today, HP has issued an email informing all existing Enterprise Server customers that they would no longer be able to access or download service packs, firmware patches and bug-fixes for their server hardware without a valid support agreement in place. They said, 'HP has made significant investments in its intellectual capital to provide the best value and experience for our customers. We continue to offer a differentiated customer experience with our comprehensive support portfolio. ... Only HP customers and authorized channel partners may download and use support materials. In line with this commitment, starting in February 2014, Hewlett-Packard Company will change the way firmware updates and Service Pack for ProLiant (SPP) on HP ProLiant server products are accessed. Select server firmware and SPP on these products will only be accessed through the HP Support Center to customers with an active support agreement, HP CarePack, or warranty linked to their HP Support Center User ID and for the specific products being updated.' If a manufacturer ships hardware with exploitable defects and takes more than three years to identify them, should the consumer have to pay for the vendor to fix the these defects?"
Internet Explorer

Microsoft's IE Is the Most Targeted Application By Security Researchers 96

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the easy-pickings dept.
darthcamaro writes "Though Microsoft hasn't yet patched its Internet Explorer web browser in 2014, it did patch IE at least once every month in 2013. According to HP's 2013 Cyber Risk Report, more researchers tried to sell IE vulnerabilities than any other product vulnerability. 'IE is the most prevalent browser on the systems that attackers want to compromise' said Jacob West, CTO of HP's Enterprise Security Group."
Security

Pwn2own 2014 Set To Hunt Unicorns 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the crack-it-if-you-can dept.
darthcamaro writes "The annual Pwn2own hacking competition has always made short work of all browser vendors' security, shredding perception of safety by hacking IE, Firefox, Safari and Chrome in minutes. This year the competition is adding a twist — for IE on Windows 8.1, hackers will also have to bypass Microsoft EMET, which is a seemingly bulletproof type of sandbox. The competition is calling this the 'Unicorn Exploit' and the first researcher to successful exploit it will pocket $150,000."
Transportation

Meet the Electric Porsche From 1898 143

Posted by samzenpus
from the 40-rods-to-the-hogshead dept.
cartechboy writes "We all talk about the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf as if electric cars are brand-new. In fact, electric cars were around long before you were alive, or your father, or maybe even your grandfather. It turns out that the very first Porsche ever built was an electric car--way back in 1898. It wasn't called a Porsche, but an 'Egger-Lohner electric vehicle, C.2 Phaeton model'--or P1 for short. Designed by Ferdinand Porsche when he was just 22 years old, it has a rear electric drive unit producing all of 3 horsepower--and an overdrive mode to boost that to a frightening 5 hp! It had an impressive range of 49 miles, not that much less than many of today's plug-in cars. Porsche recently recovered the P1 from a warehouse--where it has supposedly sat untouched since 1902--and plans to display it in original, unrestored condition at the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen, Germany."

"Look! There! Evil!.. pure and simple, total evil from the Eighth Dimension!" -- Buckaroo Banzai

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