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  • We Need Distributed Social Networks More Than Ello

    Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: Facebook threatened to banish drag queen pseudonyms, and (some) users revolted by flocking to Ello, a social network which promised not to enforce real names and also to remain ad-free. Critics said that the idealistic model would buckle under pressure from venture capitalists. But both gave scant mention to the fact that a distributed social networking protocol, backed by a player large enough to get people using it, would achieve all of the goals that Ello aspired to achieve, and more. Read on for the rest.

    242 comments | yesterday

  • Cisco Fixes Three-Year-Old Telnet Flaw In Security Appliances

    Trailrunner7 writes "There is a severe remote code execution vulnerability in a number of Cisco's security appliances, a bug that was first disclosed nearly three years ago. The vulnerability is in Telnet and there has been a Metasploit module available to exploit it for years. The FreeBSD Project first disclosed the vulnerability in telnet in December 2011 and it was widely publicized at the time. Recently, Glafkos Charalambous, a security researcher, discovered that the bug was still present in several of Cisco's security boxes, including the Web Security Appliance, Email Security Appliance and Content Security Management Appliance. The vulnerability is in the AsyncOS software in those appliances and affects all versions of the products." At long last, though, as the article points out, "Cisco has released a patched version of the AsyncOS software to address the vulnerability and also has recommended some workarounds for customers."

    59 comments | yesterday

  • Will Fiber-To-the-Home Create a New Digital Divide?

    First time accepted submitter dkatana writes Having some type of fiber or high-speed cable connectivity is normal for many of us, but in most developing countries of the world and many areas of Europe, the US, and other developed countries, access to "super-fast" broadband networks is still a dream. This is creating another "digital divide." Not having the virtually unlimited bandwidth of all-fiber networks means that, for these populations, many activities are simply not possible. For example, broadband provided over all-fiber networks brings education, healthcare, and other social goods into the home through immersive, innovative applications and services that are impossible without it. Alternatives to fiber, such as cable (DOCSYS 3.0), are not enough, and they could be more expensive in the long run. The maximum speed a DOCSYS modem can achieve is 171/122 Mbit/s (using four channels), just a fraction the 273 Gbit/s (per channel) already reached on fiber.

    286 comments | 2 days ago

  • Internet Broadband Through High-altitude Drones

    mwagner writes: Skynet is coming. But not like in the movie: The future of communications is high-altitude solar-powered drones, flying 13 miles above the ground, running microwave wireless equipment, delivering broadband to the whole planet. The articles predicts this technology will replace satellites, fiber, and copper, and fundamentally change the broadband industry. The author predicts a timescale of roughly 20 years — the same amount of time between Arthur C. Clarke predicting geosynchronous satellites and their reality as a commercial business. "Several important technology milestones need to be reached along the way. The drones that will make up Skynet have a lot more in common with satellites than the flippy-flappy helicopter drone thingies that the popular press is fixated on right now. They're really effing BIG, for one thing. And, like satellites, they go up, and stay up, pretty much indefinitely. For that to happen, we need two things: lighter, higher-capacity wireless gear; and reliable, hyper-efficient solar tech."

    99 comments | 2 days ago

  • 'Endrun' Networks: Help In Danger Zones

    kierny writes Drawing on networking protocols designed to support NASA's interplanetary missions, two information security researchers have created a networking system that's designed to transmit information securely and reliably in even the worst conditions. Dubbed Endrun, and debuted at Black Hat Europe, its creators hope the delay-tolerant and disruption-tolerant system — which runs on Raspberry Pi — could be deployed everywhere from Ebola hot zones in Liberia, to war zones in Syria, to demonstrations in Ferguson.

    28 comments | 3 days ago

  • Ask Slashdot: LTE Hotspot As Sole Cellular Connection?

    New submitter iamacat writes I am thinking of canceling my regular voice plan and using an LTE hotspot for all my voice and data needs. One big draw is ability to easily use multiple devices without expensive additional lines or constantly swapping SIMs. So I can have an ultra compact Android phone and an iPod touch and operate whichever has the apps I feel like using. Or, if I anticipate needing more screen real estate, I can bring only a Nexus 7 or a laptop and still be able to make and receive VoIP calls. When I am home or at work, I would be within range of regular WiFi and not need to eat into the data plan or battery life of the hotspot.

    Has anyone done something similar? Did the setup work well? Which devices and VoIP services did you end up using? How about software for automatic WiFi handoffs between the hotspot and regular home/work networks?

    105 comments | 4 days ago

  • Gigabit Cellular Networks Could Happen, With 24GHz Spectrum

    An anonymous reader writes A Notice of Inquiry was issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Friday that focuses research on higher frequencies for sending gigabit streams of mobile data. The inquiry specifically states that its purpose is to determine "what frequency bands above 24 GHz would be most suitable for mobile services, and to begin developing a record on mobile service rules and a licensing framework for mobile services in those bands". Cellular networks currently use frequencies between 600 MHz to 3 GHz with the most desirable frequencies under 1 GHz being owned by AT&T and Verizon Wireless. The FCC feels, however, that new technology indicates the potential for utilizing higher frequency ranges not necessarily as a replacement but as the implementation necessary to finally usher in 5G wireless technology. The FCC anticipates the advent of 5G commercial offerings within six years.

    52 comments | 4 days ago

  • Samsung Achieves Outdoor 5G Mobile Broadband Speed of 7.5Gbps

    Mark.JUK writes: Samsung has become the first to successfully demonstrate a future 5G mobile network running at speeds of 7.5Gbps in a stationary outdoor environment. They also managed 1.2Gbps while using the same technology and driving around a 4.3km-long race track at speeds of up to 110kph.

    Crucially, the test was run using the 28GHz radio spectrum band, which ordinarily wouldn't be much good for mobile networks where wide coverage and wall penetration is an important requirement. But Samsung claims it can mitigate at least some of that by harnessing the latest Hybrid Adaptive Array Technology (HAAT), which uses millimeter wave frequency bands to enable the use of higher frequencies over greater distances. Several companies are competing to develop the first 5G technologies, although consumers aren't expected to see related services until 2020 at the earliest.

    36 comments | about a week ago

  • Ask Slashdot: VPN Setup To Improve Latency Over Multiple Connections?

    blogologue writes I've been playing Battlefield for some time now, and having a good ping there is important for a good gaming experience. Now I'm in the situation where I have mobile internet access from two telecom companies, and neither of those connections are stable enough to play games on, the odd ping in hundreds of milliseconds throws everything off. How can I setup a Windows client (my PC) and a Linux server (in a datacenter, connected to the internet) so that the same TCP and UDP traffic goes over both links, and the fastest packet on either link 'wins' and the other is discarded?

    174 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Ask Slashdot: How Would You Build a Home Network To Fully Utilize Google Fiber?

    kstatefan40 writes I am closing on a house next week which is connected to Google Fiber. I am ecstatic to have a gigabit connection, but the previous homeowner had them install the jack in an awful location. I'm going to be in a situation where I am paying for more than I can technically achieve over wireless. I have purchased a couple of 600mbps powerline adapters, but those still won't fully use the gigabit connection. Is there a better way to achieve a truly gigabit internal connection without substantial structural or wiring modifications?

    279 comments | about two weeks ago

  • It's an Internet-Connected Wheelchair (Video)

    If you're in a wheelchair, wouldn't it be nice to have your chair automatically alert a caregiver if changes in your heart rate or another vital sign showed that you might be having a problem? And how about helping you rate sidewalks and handicapped parking spaces to help fellow wheelchair users get around more comfortably? Steven Hawking endorses the idea, and the Connected Wheelchair Project, in this short video. (You can see our interviewee, David Hughes, at 0:58 and again at 1:38.) This is an Intel project, in conjunction with Wake Forest University, run by student interns. | Besides helping wheelchair-dependent people live a better life, the Connected Wheelchair Project may help prevent Medicare fraud, says Hughes in our video interview with him. Falsified requests for durable medical goods are a huge drain on Medicare's budget. What if a connected wheelchair spent all of its time far from the home of the person to whom it was assigned? That would be a red flag, and investigators could follow up to see if that wheelchair was in legitimate hands or was part of a scam. | The Connected Wheelchair is still proof-of-concept, not a commercial product. Will it see production? Hard to say. This may never be a profitable product, but Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has said that that this project is an example of how “the Internet of Things can help change lives.” (Alternate Video Link)

    22 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Belkin Router Owners Suffering Massive Outages

    An anonymous reader writes: ISPs around the country are being kept busy today answering calls from frustrated customers with Belkin routers. Overnight, a firmware issue left many of the Belkin devices with no access to the customer's broadband connection. Initial speculation was that a faulty firmware upgrade caused the devices to lose connectivity, but even users with automatic updates disabled are running into trouble. The problem seems to be that the routers "occasionally ping heartbeat.belkin.com to detect network connectivity," but are suddenly unable to get a response. Belkin has acknowledged the issue and posted a workaround while they work on a fix.

    191 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Ask Slashdot: Designing a Telecom Configuration Center?

    First time accepted submitter Big Jim Taters (1490261) writes "I have been tasked with helping move our config center from one location to our Headquarters. I have a small budget and no choice in location. I do, however, have an opportunity to design the space fresh (well, kinda.) What we will be configuring is routers, switches, firewalls, and other telecom related devices. What I cannot find is any "Best Practices" or "Lessons Learned" out there. So I ask you fine folks: What are some of the best and worst designs, practices, procedures, and work flows that you have encountered in sitting down to stage anywhere from 2 to 200 devices at once to get configured?"

    52 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Professor Kevin Fu Answers Your Questions About Medical Device Security

    Almost a year ago you had a chance to ask professor Kevin Fu about medical device security. A number of events (including the collapse of his house) conspired to delay the answering of those questions. Professor Fu has finally found respite from calamity, coincidentally at a time when the FDA has issued guidance on the security of medical devices. Below you'll find his answers to your old but not forgotten questions.

    21 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Snowflake-Shaped Networks Are Easiest To Mend

    Z00L00K sends this report from New Scientist: Networks shaped like delicate snowflakes are the ones that are easiest to fix when disaster strikes. Power grids, the internet and other networks often mitigate the effects of damage using redundancy: they build in multiple routes between nodes so that if one path is knocked out by falling trees, flooding or some other disaster, another route can take over. But that approach can make them expensive to set up and maintain. The alternative is to repair networks with new links as needed, which brings the price down – although it can also mean the network is down while it happens.

    As a result, engineers tend to favor redundancy for critical infrastructure like power networks, says Robert Farr of the London Institute for Mathematical Sciences. So Farr and colleagues decided to investigate which network structures are the easiest to repair. They simulated a variety of networks, linking nodes in a regular square or triangular pattern and looked at the average cost of repairing different breaks, assuming that expense increases with the length of a rebuilt link. ... They found the best networks are made from partial loops around the units of the grid, with exactly one side of each loop missing (abstract). All of these partial loops link together, back to a central source. ... These networks have three levels of hierarchy – major arms sprouting from a central hub that branch and then branch again, but no further. When drawn, they look remarkably like snowflakes, which have a similar branching structure.

    38 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Marriott Fined $600,000 For Jamming Guest Hotspots

    schwit1 writes: Marriott will cough up $600,000 in penalties after being caught blocking mobile hotspots so that guests would have to pay for its own Wi-Fi services, the FCC has confirmed today. The fine comes after staff at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee were found to be jamming individual hotspots and then charging people up to $1,000 per device to get online. Marriott has been operating the center since 2012, and is believed to have been running its interruption scheme since then. The first complaint to the FCC, however, wasn't until March 2013, when one guest warned the Commission that they suspected their hardware had been jammed.

    278 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Facebook Ready To Get Into Healthcare

    New submitter Ted_Margaris_Chicago sends a report from Reuters indicating Facebook will be adding healthcare features to their social network. The company is exploring creating online "support communities" that would connect Facebook users suffering from various ailments. A small team is also considering new "preventative care" applications that would help people improve their lifestyles. In recent months, the sources said, the social networking giant has been holding meetings with medical industry experts and entrepreneurs, and is setting up a research and development unit to test new health apps. Facebook is still in the idea-gathering stage, the people said. The article notes two reasons in particular that spurred Facebook to this course of action. First, the day that Facebook let people share their organ donor status, the U.S. saw a 21-fold increase in people registering to be organ donors. Second, they noticed users with chronic conditions had a tendency to search Facebook for advice.

    99 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Hacking USB Firmware

    An anonymous reader writes Now the NSA isn't the only one who can hack your USB firmware: "In a talk at the Derbycon hacker conference in Louisville, Kentucky last week, researchers Adam Caudill and Brandon Wilson showed that they've reverse engineered the same USB firmware as Nohl's SR Labs, reproducing some of Nohl's BadUSB tricks. And unlike Nohl, the hacker pair has also published the code for those attacks on Github, raising the stakes for USB makers to either fix the problem or leave hundreds of millions of users vulnerable." Personally, I always thought it was insane that USB drives don't come with physical write-protect switches to keep them from being infected by malware. (More on BadUSB here.)

    97 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Ask Slashdot: Is It Worth Being Grandfathered On Verizon's Unlimited Data Plan?

    An anonymous reader writes I understand a lot of people dislike Verizon in general, but assuming for a moment that they were your only option for a cellular service provider, is staying on their grandfathered unlimited data plan still worth it? Their recent announcement to not throttle traffic is inpiring, but I just don't know the long-term benefits of staying on this plan. I fear there is a tipping point where enough people will swap over to a metered plan and Verizon will ultimately abandon the unlimited altogether and assume the risk of losing a percentage of those remaining folks, at which point all of us who bought unsubsidized phones will have wasted the money doing so. Does anyone have any insight on this? Useful answers to this should take into account the problem with the question of "How long is a piece of string?" Give some context about how much you pay, and how much you use -- and how much that would change if the price were different.

    209 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Hong Kong Protesters Use Mesh Networks To Organize

    wabrandsma sends this article from New Scientist: Hong Kong's mass protest is networked. Activists are relying on a free app that can send messages without any cellphone connection. Since the pro-democracy protests turned ugly over the weekend, many worry that the Chinese government would block local phone networks. In response, activists have turned to the FireChat app to send supportive messages and share the latest news. On Sunday alone, the app was downloaded more than 100,000 times in Hong Kong, its developers said. FireChat relies on "mesh networking," a technique that allows data to zip directly from one phone to another via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Ordinarily, if two people want to communicate this way, they need to be fairly close together. But as more people join in, the network grows and messages can travel further. Mesh networks can be useful for people who are caught in natural disasters or, like those in Hong Kong, protesting under tricky conditions. FireChat came in handy for protesters in Taiwan and Iraq this year."

    85 comments | about three weeks ago

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