After disasters (or to minimize expensive data use generally, and take advantage of available Wi-Fi), bypassing the cell network is useful. But it's not something that handset makers bake into their phones. colinneagle writes with information on a project that tries to sidestep a dependence on the cellular carriers, if there is Wi-Fi near enough for at least some users: "The Smart Phone Ad-Hoc Networks (SPAN) project reconfigures the onboard Wi-Fi chip of a smartphone to act as a Wi-Fi router with other nearby similarly configured smartphones, creating an ad-hoc mesh network. These smartphones can then communicate with one another without an operational carrier network. SPAN intercepts all communications at the Global Handset Proxy so applications such as VoIP, Twitter, email etc., work normally."
In December, we mentioned the attention that Prenda law bigwig John Steele has drawn for some questionable business practices; now reader rudy_wayne writes with news (excerpted from Ars Technica) of more scrutiny of Prenda from a California district court: "A federal judge in Los Angeles has suggested serious penalties for Brett Gibbs, an attorney at porn copyright trolling firm Prenda Law. Facing allegations of fraud and identity theft, Gibbs will be required to explain himself at a March 11 hearing. And if Judge Otis Wright isn't satisfied with his answers, he may face fines and even jail time. The identity theft allegations emerged late last year, when a Minnesota man named Alan Cooper told a Minnesota court he suspected Prenda Law named him as the CEO of two litigious offshore holding companies without his permission. Worried about exposing himself to potential liability for the firms' misconduct, Cooper asked the court to investigate the situation. Cooper's letter was spotted by Morgan Pietz, an attorney who represents 'John Doe' defendants in California. He notified Judge Wright of the allegations."
jfruh writes "The Kindle Fire HD is in theory a powerful device at a reasonable price — but its Android-based OS is so oriented towards Amazon's ecosystem that it can be tricky to unlock its full potential. Still, with a little savvy you can get underneath the covers, improving battery life, getting full access to cameras and other devices, and even listening to music you've purchased through iTunes."
toygeek writes "Which is cheaper: Running a server from home, or renting a VPS (Virtual Private Server)? We're trying to pinch pennies where we can, and my son Derrick suggested upgrading an extra PC we have and running his Minecraft server at home. Would it save enough money to be worth it? I wanted to share the results of my analysis with my Slashdot brethren." The upshot in this case? "Overall it is VERY cost effective for us to run the home server."
isoloisti writes "An article by some Microsofties in the latest issue of Computing Now magazine claims we have got passwords all wrong. When money is stolen, consumers are reimbursed for stolen funds and it is money mules, not banks or retail customers, who end up with the loss. Stealing passwords is easy, but getting money out is very hard. Passwords are not the bottleneck in cyber-crime and replacing them with something stronger won't reduce losses. The article concludes that banks have no interest in shifting liability to consumers, and that the switch to financially-motivated cyber-crime is good news, not bad. Article is online at computer.org site (hard-to-read multipage format) or as PDF from Microsoft Research."
An anonymous reader writes "Software giant Adobe has bowed to public pressure and slashed the price of some of its products for Australian customers a day after being ordered to front a parliamentary committee hearing to explain its excessive charges."
First time accepted submitter WolfeCanada writes "North Korea apparently conducted a widely anticipated nuclear test Tuesday, strongly indicated by an 'explosion-like' earthquake that monitoring agencies around the globe said appeared to be unnatural." North Korea has confirmed the test, according to the Washington Post, in an article that touches on its political context. Among other things, the Post notes that this "is the first under new North Korean leader Kim Jong Eun and the clearest sign that the third-generation leader, like his father and grandfather, prefers to confront the United States and its allies rather than make peace with them." Adds reader eldavojohn "KCNA news claims that the test was safe and cited the threat of the U.S. for conducting the test, saying 'The test was carried out as part of practical measure of counteraction to defend the country's security and sovereignty in the face of the ferocious hostile act of the U.S. which wantonly violated the DPRK's legitimate right to launch satellite for peaceful purposes.' RT is posting a feed of the many condemnations from governments and organizations."
FredAndrews writes "The W3C has ruled DRM in-scope for their HTML standard. A lot of big businesses have supported advancing the Encrypted Media Extension, including Google, Microsoft, and Netfix. The BBC calls for a solution with legal sanctions. The EME could well be used to implement a DRM HTML engine. A DRM-enabled web would break a long tradition of the web browser being the User's Agent, and would restrict user choice and control over their security and privacy. There are other applications that can serve the purpose of viewing DRM video content, and I appeal to people to not taint the web standards with DRM but to please use other applications when necessary." Looks like the web is becoming more like Xanadu, but not in a good way.
astroengine writes "In a recent poll funded by the non-profit Explore Mars, 71% of respondents agreed that the U.S. will send a human to Mars within the next two decades. Unfortunately, on average, the sample of 1,101 people surveyed thought the U.S. government allocated 2.4% of the federal budget to NASA — in reality it's only 0.5%. With this in mind, 75% of the respondents agreed/strongly agreed that NASA's budget should be increased to explore Mars through manned and robotic means."
Qedward writes "Glyn Moody looks at the proposed EU directive on Data Protection — and how some of the proposed amendments seem to be cut and pasted directly from the American Chamber of Commerce — that well-known European organisation... You might ask, Glyn writes, who are these MEPs representing — some 500 million EU citizens that pay their salary or a bunch of extremely rich U.S. companies intent on taking away our privacy?" Lobbyplag lets you look at which lobbyist wrote each part of the bill. Fears of the U.S. exerting undue influence seem to be justified.
hypnosec writes "Mojang has officially released Minecraft: Pi Edition for the credit card sized Raspberry Pi. Back in November, Minecraft was ported to the Raspberry Pi, and it was revealed that Mojang would release a free version of the game. The game is completely free and is now available for download. Even though the game will carry only a limited set of features, the cost and complexity of building and hosting a Minecraft LAN-party has definitely dropped." From the looks of it, you should be able to run it on any ARM system that can run Debian Wheezy. More generally, the idea of a tiny box you can just turn on and have a server for a bzflag, Quake, etc. tournament is appealing.
vikingpower writes "Today, I decided to acquire a refurbished Sun Fire V1280 server, with 8 CPUs. The machine will soon or may already belong to a certain history of computing. This project is not about high-performance computing, much more about lovingly dusting off and maintaining a piece of hardware considered quirky by 2013 standards. And Now the question creeps to mind: what software would Slashdotters run on such a beast, once it is upgraded to 12 procs and, say, 24 GiB of RAM ?"
First time accepted submitter Rawlsian writes "Great Falls, Montana, television station KRTC issued a denial of an Emergency Alert System report that 'dead bodies are rising from their graves.' The denial surmises that 'someone apparently hacked into the Emergency Alert System...This message did not originate from KRTV, and there is no emergency.'"
MojoKid writes "AMD has yet to make an official statement on this topic, but several unofficial remarks and leaks point in the same direction. Contrary to rumor, there won't be a new GCN 2.0 GPU out this spring to head up the Radeon HD 8000 family. This breaks with a pattern AMD has followed for nearly six years. AMD recently refreshed its mobile product lines with HD 8000M hardware, replacing some old 40nm parts with new 28nm GPUs based on GCN (Graphics Core Next). In desktop, it's a different story. AMD is already shipping 'Radeon HD 8000' cards to OEMs, but these cards are based on HD 7000 cores with new model numbers. RAM, TDP, core counts, and architectural features are all identical to the HD 7000 lineup. GPU rebadges are nothing new, but this is the first time in at least six years that AMD has rebadged the top end of a product line. Obviously any delay in a cutthroat market against Nvidia is a non-optimal situation, but consider the problem from AMD's point of view. We know AMD built the GPU inside Wii U. It's also widely rumored to have designed the CPU and GPU for the Xbox Durango and possibly both of those components for the PS4 as well. It's possible, if not likely, that the company has opted to focus on the technologies most vital to its survival over the next 12 months." Maybe the Free GNU/Linux drivers will be ready at launch after all.