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Education

Apple CEO Tim Cook: I'd Require All Children To Start Coding In 4th Grade (thehill.com) 16

This week Apple CEO Tim Cook argued at Startup Fest Europe that coding should be a 'second language' taught to all children. theodp shares two quotes from a YouTube video. "We fundamentally believe that coding is a language and that just like other languages are required in school, coding should be required in school," Cook stated. "I do think coding is as important-- if not more important -- as the second language that most people learn in today's world," Cook later added... "I would go in and make coding a requirement starting at the fourth or fifth grade, and I would build on that year after year after year...I think we're doing our kids a disservice if we're not teaching them and introducing them in that way."
Meanwhile, The Hill reported this week that The Computer Science Education Coalition -- which includes Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and dozens of other companies -- hired a fourth "advocacy firm" that specializes in "mobilizing groups of people to influence outcomes...to help convince policymakers to provide money to computer science education for grades K-12," and they're seeking an initial investment of $250 million. I'd be curious to hear what Slashdot readers think about government funding of grade school coding classes.
Android

Op-ed: Oracle Attorney Says Google's Court Victory Might Kill the GPL (arstechnica.com) 92

Annette Hurst, an attorney at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe who represented Oracle in the recent Oracle v. Google trial, has written an opinion piece for Ars Technica in which he urges developers and creators to not celebrate Google's win in the hard-fought copyright case as the decision -- if remains intact -- is poised to make them "suffer" everywhere and also the free software movement itself "now faces substantial jeopardy." As you're aware, in a verdict earlier this week, a federal court announced that Google's Android operating system didn't infringe on Oracle-owned copyrights because its re-implementation of 37 Java APIs is protected by "fair use." Hurst writes: No business trying to commercialize software with any element of open software can afford to ignore this verdict. Dual licensing models are very common and have long depended upon a delicate balance between free use and commercial use. Royalties from licensed commercial exploitation fuel continued development and innovation of an open and free option. The balance depends upon adherence to the license restrictions in the open and free option. This jury's verdict suggests that such restrictions are now meaningless, since disregarding them is simply a matter of claiming "fair use." It is hard to see how GPL can survive such a result. In fact, it is hard to see how ownership of a copy of any software protected by copyright can survive this result. Software businesses now must accelerate their move to the cloud where everything can be controlled as a service rather than software. Consumers can expect to find decreasing options to own anything for themselves, decreasing options to control their data, decreasing options to protect their privacy.
Facebook

Is Facebook Sabotaging A Face-Recognition Law? (fortune.com) 22

"You know something's up when politicians bring up a bill out of nowhere, and then try to ram it through over Memorial Day weekend," writes Fortune. "That's what's happening in Illinois, where state lawmakers -- allegedly at the behest of Facebook and Google -- are poised to gut a law that limits the use of facial recognition technology." An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this month a judge refused to throw out a class action complaint against Facebook for using facial recognition software to identify people without their permission and then inviting their friends to "tag" them. Now that suit's lawyer says a so-called "Biometric Information Privacy Act" will actually swap in new definitions for "photograph" and "scan" that will apparently shield Facebook and Google from liability.
The Center for Democracy and Technology called the bill "an unnecessary loss of privacy." Google didn't respond to Fortune's request for a comment, and Facebook said only "We appreciate Senator Link's effort to clarify the scope of the law he authored."
Books

Ask Slashdot: What Books Should An Aspiring Coder Read? 81

Earlier this month Bill Gates released his summer reading list, which included Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson and mathematician Jordan Ellenberg's book How Not to be Wrong. Now an anonymous Slashdot reader asks for your book recommendations. I've been trying to learn more about coding, but I need a break sometimes from technical documentation and O'Reilly books. Are there any good books that can provide some good general context and maybe teach me about our place in the history of technology or the state of the programming profession today?
In the U.S., Memorial Day is considered the "unofficial" first weekend of summer -- so what should be on this geek's summer reading list? Cracking the Coding Interview? Godel, Escher, Bach? This year's Nebula award winners? George Takei's The Internet Strikes Back? Leave your suggestions in the comments. What books should an aspiring coder be reading?
Open Source

NetBSD 7.0.1 Released (netbsd.org) 22

New submitter fisted writes: The NetBSD Project is pleased to announce NetBSD 7.0.1, the first security/bugfix update of the NetBSD 7.0 release branch. It represents a selected subset of fixes deemed important for security or stability reasons... For more details, please see the release notes at netbsd.org/releases. Complete source and binaries for NetBSD are available for download at many sites around the world. A list of download sites providing FTP, AnonCVS, SUP, and other services may be found at netbsd.org/mirrors/ This release addresses three security advisories, and includes six more security fixes -- all courtesy of a non-profit organization with no commercial backing.
Crime

California Mayors Demand Surveillance Cams On Crime-Ridden Highways (arstechnica.com) 90

An anonymous reader shares an Ars Technica report: The 28 shootings along a 10-mile stretch of San Francisco-area highway over the past six months have led mayors of the adjacent cities to declare that these "murderous activities" have reached "crisis proportions." Four people have been killed and dozens injured. These five mayors want California Gov. Jerry Brown to fund surveillance cameras along all the on and off ramps of Interstate 80 and Highway 4 along the cities of El Cerrito, Hercules, Richmond, San Pablo, and Pinole.
Social Networks

Mark Zuckerberg Is Dictator Of Facebook Nation; There's No Democracy Online: The Pirate Bay Founder (cnbc.com) 136

Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg is the "dictator" of "the biggest nation in the world," says Peter Sunde, co-founder of the controversial website The Pirate Bay. Sunde, who appeared at The Next Web conference on Friday, added that there is "no democracy" online. From a CNBC report: "People in the tech industry have a lot of responsibilities but they never really discuss these things... Facebook is the biggest nation in the world and we have a dictator, if you look at it from a democracy standpoint, Mark Zuckerberg is a dictator. I did not elect him. He sets the rules," Sunde said. "And really you can't opt out of Facebook. I'm not on Facebook but there are a lot of drawbacks in my offline world. No party invitations, no updates from my friends, people stop talking to you, because you're not on Facebook. So it has real life implications."
Privacy

Controversial Surveillance Firm Blue Coat Was Granted a Powerful Encryption Certificate (vice.com) 71

Joseph Cox, reporting for Motherboard (edited for clarity): A controversial surveillance company called Blue Coat Systems -- whose products have been detected in Iran and Sudan -- was recently issued a powerful encryption certificate by Symantec. The certificate, and the authority that comes with it, could allow Blue Coat Systems to more easily snoop on encrypted traffic. But Symantec downplayed concern from the security community. Blue Coat, which sells web-monitoring software, was granted the power in September last year, but it was only widely noticed this week. The company's devices are used by both government and commercial customers for keeping tabs on networks or conducting surveillance. In Syria, the technology has been used to censor web sites and monitor the communications of dissidents, activists and journalists.Blue Coat assures that it is not going to utilize the certificates to snoop on us. The Register reports: We asked Blue Coat how it planned to use its new powers -- and we were assured that its intermediate certificate was only used for internal testing and that the certificate is no longer in use. "Symantec has reviewed the intermediate CA issued to Blue Coat and determined it was used appropriately," the two firms said in a statement. "Consistent with their protocols, Symantec maintained full control of the private key and Blue Coat never had access to it. Blue Coat has confirmed it was used for internal testing and has since been discontinued. Therefore, rumors of misuse are unfounded."
Role Playing (Games)

The NSA's Delightfully D&D-inspired Guide To the Internet (muckrock.com) 33

"The NSA has a well-earned reputation for being one of the tougher agencies to get records out of, making those rare FOIA wins all the sweeter..." according to Muckrock.com, and "the fact that the records in question just so happen to be absolutely insane are just icing on the cake...." v3rgEz writes: In 2007, two NSA employees put together "Untangling the Web," the agency's official guide to scouring the World Wide Web. The 651-page guide cites Borges, Freud, and Ovid -- and that's just in the preface. MuckRock obtained a copy of the guide under an NSA Freedom of Information request, and has a write up of all the guide's amazing best parts.
They're calling it "the weirdest thing you'll read today".
Facebook

62% Americans Get News On Social Media (journalism.org) 56

More people in the United States are now turning to social media instead of traditional media for news. According to Pew Research Center, which surveyed over 4,500 people with various backgrounds, an increasingly number of Americans -- 62% to be exact -- are getting their news from social media platforms such as Facebook, and Instagram. Of the 62% people, 66% of them get their news from Facebook, 23% from Instagram, 21% from YouTube, and 19% from LinkedIn. From a Huffington Post article: It's easy to believe you're getting diverse perspectives when you see stories on Facebook. You're connected not just to many of your friends, but also to friends of friends, interesting celebrities and publications you "like." But Facebook shows you what it thinks you'll be interested in. The social network pays attention to what you interact with, what your friends share and comment on, and overall reactions to a piece of content, lumping all of these factors into an algorithm that serves you items you're likely to engage with. It's a simple matter of business: Facebook wants you coming back, so it wants to show you things you'll enjoy.
The Military

Department of Homeland Security Still Uses COBOL (softpedia.com) 161

The Department of Defense has promised to finally stop managing the U.S. nuclear arsenal with floppy disks "by the end of 2017". But an anonymous reader shares Softpedia's report about another startling revelation this week from the Government Accountability Office: Another agency that plans to upgrade is the US Department of Veterans Affairs, which uses COBOL, a programming language from the '50s to manage a system for employee time and attendance. Unfortunately for the VA, there were funds only to upgrade that COBOL system, because the agency still uses the antiquated programming language to run another system that tracks claims filed by veterans for benefits, eligibility, and dates of death. This latter system won't be updated this year. Another serious COBOL user is the Department of Homeland Security, who employs it to track hiring operations, alongside a 2008 IBM z10 mainframe and a Web component that uses a Windows 2012 server running Java.
Personnel files are serious business. A 2015 leak of the secret service's confidential personnel files for a Utah Congressman (who was leading a probe into high-profile security breaches and other missteps) led the Department of Homeland Security to discipline 41 secret service agents.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Warns of Harsher CFAA (eff.org) 38

An anonymous reader writes: The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is "vague, draconian, and notoriously out of touch with how we use computers today," warns the EFF. But instead of reforming it, two U.S. Senators "are on a mission to make things worse..." The senators' proposed Botnet Prevention Act of 2016 "could make criminals of paid researchers who test access in order to identify, disclose, and fix vulnerabilities," according to the EFF. And the bill would also make it a felony to damage "critical infrastructure," which may include software companies and ISPs (since they're apparently using the Department of Homeland Security's definition).

The harsher penalties would ultimately give prosecutors much more leverage for plea deals. But worst of all, the proposed bill even "empowers government officials to obtain court orders to force companies to hack computer users for a wide range of activity completely unrelated to botnets. What's worse is that the bill allows the government to do this without any requirement of notice to non-suspect or innocent customers or companies, including botnet victims... These changes would only increase -- not alleviate -- the CFAA's harshness, overbreadth, and confusion."

The CFAA was originally written in 1986, and was partly inspired by the 1983 movie "WarGames".
Government

Finnish Government Criticizes Microsoft For Job Cuts, 'Broken Promises' (softpedia.com) 135

jones_supa writes: Softpedia reports: "Microsoft has recently announced a new round of job layoffs at its Mobile unit in Finland, as it moves forward with its restructuring and reorganization plan following the acquisition of Nokia's Devices and Services unit. The Finnish government has criticized Microsoft for turning to more job cuts in the country, pointing out that the company has a huge responsibility to help those who are being let go. Microsoft's latest job cut round included 1,850 people, 1,350 of which are said to be working in Finland. 'I am disappointed because of the (initial) promises made by Microsoft,' Finance Minister Alexander Stubb was quoted as saying by Reuters. 'One example is that the data center did not materialize despite the company's promise.'" He refers to Microsoft's promise in 2013 to invest $250 million in a data center located in Finland that was specifically meant to provide services to European customers. All of these worries are not unfounded as the employment situation in Finland is still quite terrible, and the decline of Nokia's former phone business certainly exacerbates the situation.
Software

ForcePhone App Uses Ultrasonic Tone To Create Pressure-Sensitive Batphone (thestack.com) 41

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Stack: Researchers at the University of Michigan have created an app that makes any smartphone pressure-sensitive without additional hardware. The app, called ForcePhone, uses ultrasonic tones in the existing microphone and speaker hardware that respond to pressure for additional functionality for touchscreens. The app emits a high-frequency ultrasound tone from the device's existing microphone, which is inaudible to humans but can be picked up by the phone. That tone is calibrated to change depending on the pressure that the user gives on the screen or on the body of the phone. This gives users an additional way to interact with their device through the app alone. The additional functionality provided by ForcePhone can be used in a number of ways. Squeezing the body of the phone could take a user back a page, for example; or increased pressure on the touchscreen could act as a 'right-click' function, showing additional information on the app in use. Kan Shin, Professor at the University of Michigan, said, "You don't need a special screen or built-in sensors to do this. Now this functionality can be realized on any phone." He added, "We've augmented the user interface without requiring any special built-in sensors. ForcePhone increases the vocabulary between the phone and the user."
Businesses

Qualcomm To Manufacture Custom Chips For Chinese Market (thestack.com) 45

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Stack: Qualcomm president Derek Aberle has suggested that the semiconductor giant is preparing to produce its own custom chips for the Chinese market. [A Wall Street Journal interview with] Aberle revealed that the American company had entered into a joint venture with the local government in Guizhou province to manufacture custom chips starting in the second half of 2016. According to Aberle, the Guizhou government owns 55% of the venture, while Qualcomm owns the remaining 45%. Aberle told the Wall Street Journal that he expects China's server demand to dwarf that of the U.S.. He said of the government-backed venture: "This is really going to be the primary vehicle from which we build our data center business in China. We are actually trying to create the company that is going to be able to win the market here as opposed to just licensing old technology."

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