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NSF Antes Up $200K For Spin-off of Microsoft-Funded 'Code Trip' TV Show 17

theodp writes: The Microsoft-sponsored PBS 'reality' show Code Trip, in which Roadtrip Nation and Microsoft YouthSpark partnered to send three students across the U.S. on a "transformative journey into computer science" is getting a spin-off. According to the National Science Foundation Award Abstract for a Computer Science Roadtrip (CS Roadtrip), $199,866.00 in funding has been awarded for a pilot project that began in October "to design and develop pilot materials for a Computer Science Roadtrip (CS Roadtrip)."

From the abstract: "Through this pilot project, Roadtrip Nation will lay the groundwork and provide proof-of-concept for a CS Roadtrip, leveraging a combination of multimedia deliverables, an evidence-based educational curriculum, and dynamic engagement strategies that will provide critical connections between students' natural interests, positive role models who align with those interests, and corresponding CS educational and career pathways. To that end, the CS Roadtrip Pilot will develop up to four student-facing videos that feature the stories of diverse computing professionals, appropriate for on-air, online, and classroom purposes, along with the appropriate Learning Guides."

The NSF study's Principal Investigator is Roadtrip Nation co-founder Mike Marriner, who explained his company's relationship with Microsoft in a July 30th press release, "Roadtrip Nation is proud to partner with Microsoft's YouthSpark initiative not only to inform others of the many career routes one can take with a computer science background, but also to engage in the much-needed conversation of diversifying the tech field with more pluralistic perspectives."

Mozilla May Separate Itself From Thunderbird Email Client ( 246

An anonymous reader writes: A company-wide memo distributed throughout the Mozilla Foundation by chairperson Mitchell Baker argues that the organization should disentangle itself from the Thunderbird email client in order to focus on Firefox. She said, "Today Thunderbird developers spend much of their time responding to changes made in core Mozilla systems and technologies. At the same time, build, Firefox, and platform engineers continue to pay a tax to support Thunderbird." Both projects are wasting time helping each other, and those demands are only going to get worse. She says many within Mozilla want to see it support community-managed projects without doing the bulk of the work on it, and perhaps Thunderbird could be one of those projects. Baker stresses that no decisions have been made yet — they're starting the conversation early to keep the community involved in what happens to Thunderbird.

DHS Offering Free Vulnerability Scans, Penetration Tests ( 64

tsu doh nimh writes: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been quietly launching stealthy cyber attacks against a range of private U.S. companies -- mostly banks and energy firms. These digital intrusion attempts, commissioned in advance by the private sector targets themselves, are part of a little-known program at DHS designed to help 'critical infrastructure' companies shore up their computer and network defenses against real-world adversaries. And it's all free of charge (well, on the U.S. taxpayer's dime). Brian Krebs examines some of the pros and cons, and the story has some interesting feedback from some banks and others who have apparently taken DHS up on its offer.

Phishing Blast Uses Dropbox To Target Hong Kong Journalists ( 10

itwbennett writes: Researchers at FireEye have disclosed an ongoing Phishing campaign targeting pro-democracy media organizations in Hong Kong that's using Dropbox storage services as a command and control (C2) hub, writes CSO's Steve Ragan. 'The attacks are using basic emails trapped with documents that deliver a malware payload called LowBall,' says Ragan. 'LowBall is a basic backdoor that uses a legitimate Dropbox storage account to act as a C2.'

Enlightenment E20 Released With Full Wayland Support ( 43

An anonymous reader writes: Enlightenment DR 0.20 has been released. The most significant change is full Wayland support where E20 can act as its own Wayland compositor and the whole shebang. Enlightenment 0.20 also has better FreeBSD support, introduces Geolocation support, new screen management, and other changes.

Revealed: What Info the FBI Can Collect With a National Security Letter 81

An anonymous reader writes with this lead from Help Net Security's story on a topic we've touched on here many times: the broad powers arrogated by the Federal government in the form of National Security Letters: On Monday, after winning an eleven-year legal battle, Nicholas Merrill can finally tell the public how the FBI has secretly construed its authority to issue National Security Letters (NSLs) to permit collection of vast amounts of private information on US citizens without a search warrant or any showing of probable cause. The PATRIOT Act vastly expanded the domestic reach of the NSL program, which allows the FBI to compel disclosure of information from online companies and forbid recipients from disclosing they have received an NSL. The FBI has refused to detail publicly the kinds of private data it believes it can obtain with an NSL. A key sentence from the same story: "Merrill is now able to reveal that the FBI believes it can force online companies to turn over the following information simply by sending an NSL demanding it: an individual’s complete web browsing history; the IP addresses of everyone a person has corresponded with; and records of all online purchases." Reader Advocatus Diaboli adds this, from The Intercept: One of the most striking revelations, Merrill said during a press teleconference, was that the FBI was requesting detailed cell site location information — cellphone tracking records — under the heading of "radius log" information. Traditionally, radius log refers to a user's attempts to connect to a server or a DSL line — a sort of anachronism given the progress of technology. "The notion that the government can collect cellphone location information — to turn your cellphone into a tracking device, just by signing a letter — is extremely troubling," Merrill said.

Arkansas Has a Growing Population of "Climate Change Refugees" 220 writes: Located between Hawaii and Australia, the Marshall Islands are made up of 29 atolls and five islands with a population of about 70,000, all of whom live about six feet above sea level. Now Story Hinkley writes in the Christian Science Monitor that another 10,000 Marshallese have moved to Springdale, Arkansas because of climate change. Because this Pacific island nation is so small, the Marshallese population in Arkansas attribute their Springdale settlement to one man, John Moody, who moved to the US in 1979 after the first wave of flooding. Moody's family eventually moved to Springdale to live with him and work for Tyson and other poultry companies based in Arkansas, eventually causing a steady flow of extended friends and family migrating to Springdale. "Probably in 10 to 20 years from now, we're all going to move," says Roselinta Keimbar adding that she likes Arkansas because it is far away from the ocean, meaning it is safe.

For more than three decades, Marshallese have moved in the thousands to the landlocked Ozark Mountains for better education, jobs and health care, thanks to an agreement that lets them live and work in the US.. This historical connection makes it an obvious destination for those facing a new threat: global warming. Marshallese Foreign Minister Tony de Brum says even a small rise in global temperatures would spell the demise of his country. While many world leaders in Paris want to curb emissions enough to cap Earth's warming at 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), de Brum is pushing for a target that's 25 percent lower. "The thought of evacuation is repulsive to us," says de Brum. "We think that the more reasonable thing to do is to seek to end this madness, this climate madness, where people think that smaller, vulnerable countries are expendable and therefore they can continue to do business as usual." Meanwhile residents jokingly call their new home "Springdale Atoll," and there's even a Marshallese consulate in Springdale, the only one on the mainland US. "Its not our fault that the tide is getting higher," says Carlon Zedkaia,. "Just somebody else in this world that wants to get rich."
The Almighty Buck

Patton Oswalt Recruited For New MST3K Cast ( 49

An anonymous reader writes: Joel Hodgson has announced that actor and comedian Patton Oswalt will join the MST3K cast as "TV's Son of TV's Frank". "I first became aware of Patton around fourteen years ago, when he was doing commentary for the MTV Awards — live in the room during the event!" Hodgson wrote on the Kickstarter page. "I realized right away he was a kindred spirit, and damn funny too," Hodgson added. "Since then, obviously, he's bloomed into this amazing comedy/Internet dynamo. I've seen a lot of stand-ups over the years, but Patton really is one of the best ever. And just as important, he's a very fun, articulate and witty soul — just the kind of person who we've always tried to bring onboard for MST3K." Comedian Jonah Ray and actor Felicia Day are also on board for the potentially record breaking relaunch.

Sued For Using HTTPS: Companies In Crypto Patent Fight ( 115

yoink! writes: According to an article in The Register, corporations big and small are coming under legal fire from CryptoPeak. The Company holds U.S. Patent 6,202,150, which describes "auto-escrowable and auto-certifiable cryptosystems" and has claimed that the Elliptic Curve Cryptography methods/implementations used as part of the HTTPS protocol violates their intellectual property. Naturally, reasonable people disagree.

US Marshals Jump Into 'Cyber Monday' Mania ( 60

coondoggie writes: "Cyber Monday is generally thought to be the start of the online holiday shopping season. We would like to encourage shoppers who are already online in search of bargains to consider stopping by our auction website to bid on forfeited assets," said Jason Wojdylo, Chief Inspector of the U.S. Marshals Service Asset Forfeiture Division in a statement. These online auctions are designed to generate proceeds from ill-gotten gains to give back to victims, he stated. One auction includes a wine collection of approximately 2,800 bottles seized from once prominent wine dealer Rudy Kurniawan, who is serving a 10-year federal prison sentence following his conviction of selling millions of dollars of counterfeit wine.
The Almighty Buck

AT&T Will Raise Cost of Old Unlimited Data Plans By $5 In February ( 54

An anonymous reader writes: AT&T customers trying to hold on to their old unlimited-data plans will have to pay a little more starting in February. AT&T's legacy plans for unlimited data will soon be $35 a month, instead of the current $30, on top of normal monthly bill costs. The Verge reports: "This is the first price hike AT&T has levied on grandfathered unlimited customers in seven years; the plan in question was discontinued in 2010 and as such is no longer offered to new customers. The $35 unlimited data feature is in addition to the costs associated with your voice and texting plan(s)."
The Courts

Young Climate Activists Sue Obama Over Climate Change Inaction ( 409

EmagGeek writes A recent lawsuit against Obama alleges he has a legal duty to act against climate change, and young climate activists, including 15-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh, are taking him to task on it. CNN reports: "Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh became a climate change activist at age 6 when he saw an environmental documentary. He asked his mom to find a way for him to speak at a rally. Now 15, the long-haired, hip-hop-savvy Coloradan is one of 21 young activists joining climate scientist James Hansen in suing the Obama administration for failing to ditch fossil fuels. 'It's basically a bunch of kids saying you're not doing your job,' he told me here at the U.N. COP21 climate change summit in Paris. 'You're failing, you know. F-minus. We're holding you accountable for your lack of action.'"

Book Review: Security Operations Center 14

benrothke writes: Large enterprises have numerous information security challenges. Aside from the external threats; there's the onslaught of security data from disparate systems, platforms and applications. Getting a handle on the security output from numerous point solutions (anti-virus, routers/switches, firewalls, IDS/IPS, ERP, access control, identity management, single sign on and others), often generating tens of millions of messages and alerts daily is not a trivial endeavor. As attacks becoming more frequent and sophisticated and with regulatory compliance issues placing an increasing burden, there needs to be a better way to manage all of this. Getting the raw hardware, software and people to create a SOC is not that difficult. The challenge, and it's a big challenge, is integrating those 3 components to ensure that a formal SOC can operate effectively. In Security Operations Center: Building, Operating, and Maintaining your SOC, authors Joseph Muniz, Gary McIntyre and Nadhem AlFardan have written an indispensable reference on the topic. The authors have significant SOC development experience, and provide the reader with a detailed plan on all the steps involved in creating a SOC. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.

Rikers Inmates Learn How To Code Without Internet Access ( 173

An anonymous reader sends the story of another prison where inmates are learning the basics of programming, despite having no access to the vast educational resources on the internet. Instructors from Columbia University have held a lengthy class at New York's Rikers Island prison to teach the basics of Python. Similar projects have been attempted in California and Oklahoma. The goal wasn’t to turn the students into professional-grade programmers in just a few classes, [Instructor Dennis] Tenen emphasizes, but to introduce them to the basics of programming and reasoning about algorithms and code. "It’s really to give people a taste, to get people excited about coding, in hopes that when they come out, they continue," says Tenen. ...Having an explicit goal—building the Twitter bot—helped the class focus its limited time quickly on learning to do concrete tasks, instead of getting bogged down in abstract discussions of syntax and algorithms.

MST3K Kickstarter Poised To Break Kickstarter Record ( 101

New submitter the_Bionic_lemming writes: Recently Joel Hodgson, the creator of Mystery Science 3000 -- which had a successful run of over 197 shows -- has after 15 years launched a kickstarter to relaunch the series. In just over two weeks Joel has been wildly successful in not only having over 25000 fans contribute, but actually scoring the second-highest show kickstarter on record — he has just under two weeks to shoot past the Number 1 kickstarter, Veronica Mars.

Israel Meets With Google and YouTube To Discuss Censoring Videos ( 503

An anonymous reader writes: Various sources report Israel's Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely meeting with representatives of Google and YouTube to discuss censoring Palestinian videos believed to incite violence. Original aricle (in Hebrew) from Maariv The open question is how Google and Youtube will define "inciting violence." Currently, all foreign journalists in the Palestinian territories are required to register with the Israeli military, and all footage must be approved through the Israeli Military Censor's office before being released. However, according to the article in alternet individual Palestinians have been uploading videos showing violence by Israeli soldiers, including execution-style killings, and highlighting the living conditions in the territories, which Israeli authorities consider inflammatory.

Purdue Experiments With Income-Contingent Student Loans 223 writes: Danielle Douglas-Gabriel writes in the Washington Post that Purdue University is partnering with Vemo Education, a Reston-based financial services firm, to create income-share agreements, or ISAs, that its students can tap to pay for tuition, room and board. In return, students would pay a percentage of their earnings after graduation for a set number of years, replenishing the fund for future investments. Purdue president Mitch Daniels calls the contracts a constructive addition to today's government loan programs and perhaps the only option for students and families who have low credit ratings and extra financial need. "From the student's standpoint, ISAs assure a manageable payback amount, never more than the agreed portion of their incomes. Best of all, they shift the risk of career shortcomings from student to investor: If the graduate earns less than expected, it is the investors who are disappointed; if the student decides to go off to find himself in Nepal instead of working, the loss is entirely on the funding providers, who will presumably price that risk accordingly when offering their terms. This is true "debt-free" college."

However some observers worry that students pursuing profitable degrees in engineering or business would get better repayment terms than those studying to become nurses or teachers. "Income share agreements have the potential to create another option for students looking to pay for college while seeking assurances they will not be overwhelmed by future payments," says Robert Kelchen. "However, given the current generosity of federal income-based repayment programs and the likely hesitation of those who expect six-figure salaries to sign away a percentage of their income for years to come, the market for these programs may be somewhat limited."

Canadian, UK Law Professors Condemn Space Mining Provisions of Commercial Space Act ( 211

MarkWhittington writes: The Commercial Space Launch Act, which includes provisions allowing American companies the right to keep resources that they mine in space, was recently signed into law by President Barack Obama. While the act has been hailed as groundbreaking in the United States, the space mining title has gotten an angry reaction overseas. In an article in Science Alert, Gbenga Oduntan, Senior Lecturer in International Commercial Law, University of Kent, condemned the space mining provisions as environmentally risky and a violation of international law. Ram Jakhu, a professor at Canada's McGill University's Institute of air and space law, adds that space mining is a violation of the Outer Space Treaty and should not be allowed.

Bill Gates To Headline Paris Climate Talks 89

theodp writes: The NY Times and others report that Bill Gates will announce the creation of a multibillion-dollar clean energy fund on Monday at the opening of the two-week long Paris Climate Change Conference. The climate summit, which will be attended by President Obama and 100+ world leaders, is intended to forge a global accord to cut planet-warming emissions. The pending announcement was first reported by ClimateWire. A spokesman for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation did not respond to a request for comment. Let's hope it goes better than BillG school reform!