DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×
Businesses

Intel-Powered Broadband Modems Highly Vulnerable To DoS Attack (dslreports.com) 49

"It's being reported by users from the DSLReports forum that the Puma 6 Intel cable modem variants are highly susceptible to a very low-bandwidth denial-of-service attack," writes Slashdot reader Idisagree. The Register reports: Effectively, if there's someone you don't like, and they are one of thousands upon thousands of people using a Puma 6-powered home gateway, and you know their public IP address, you can kick them off the internet, we're told... According to one engineer...the flaw would be "trivial" to exploit in the wild, and would effectively render a targeted box useless for the duration of the attack... "It can be exploited remotely, and there is no way to mitigate the issue."

This is particularly frustrating for Puma 6 modem owners because the boxes are pitched as gigabit broadband gateways: the devices can be potentially choked and knocked out simply by receiving traffic that's a fraction of the bandwidth their owners are paying for... The Puma 6 chipset is used in a number of ISP-branded cable modems, including some Xfinity boxes supplied by Comcast in the US and the latest Virgin Media hubs in the UK.

The original submission also notes there's already a class action lawsuit over the performance of cable modems with Intel's Puma 6 chipset, and adds "It would appear the Atom chip was never going to live up to the task it was designed for."
Robotics

Humans Are Already Harassing Security Robots (cnn.com) 135

An anonymous reader quotes CNN: As robots begin to appear on sidewalks and streets, they're being hazed and bullied. Last week, a drunken man allegedly tipped over a 300-pound security robot in Mountain View, California... Knightscope, which makes the robot that was targeted in Mountain View, said it's had three bullying incidents since launching its first prototype robot three years ago. In 2014, a person attempted to tackle a Knightscope robot. Last year in Los Angeles, people attempted to spray paint a Knightscope robot. The robot sensed the paint and sounded an alarm, alerting local security and the company's engineers... the robot's cameras filmed the pranksters' license plate, making it easy to track them down.
The company's security robots are deployed with 17 clients in five states, according to the article, which notes that at best the robots' cameras allow them to "rat out the bullies." But with delivery robots now also hitting the streets in San Francisco and Washington D.C., "the makers of these machines will have to figure out how to protect them from ill-intentioned humans."
AI

Wired Founding Editor Now Challenges 'The Myth of A Superhuman AI' (backchannel.com) 248

Wired's founding executive editor Kevin Kelly wrote a 5,000-word takedown on "the myth of a superhuman AI," challenging dire warnings from Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, and Elon Musk about the potential extinction of humanity at the hands of a superintelligent constructs. Slashdot reader mirandakatz calls it an "impeccably argued debunking of this pervasive myth." Kelly writes: Buried in this scenario of a takeover of superhuman artificial intelligence are five assumptions which, when examined closely, are not based on any evidence... 1.) Artificial intelligence is already getting smarter than us, at an exponential rate. 2.) We'll make AIs into a general purpose intelligence, like our own. 3.) We can make human intelligence in silicon. 4.) Intelligence can be expanded without limit. 5.) Once we have exploding superintelligence it can solve most of our problems... If the expectation of a superhuman AI takeover is built on five key assumptions that have no basis in evidence, then this idea is more akin to a religious belief -- a myth
Kelly proposes "five heresies" which he says have more evidence to support them -- including the prediction that emulating human intelligence "will be constrained by cost" -- and he likens artificial intelligence to the physical powers of machines. "[W]hile all machines as a class can beat the physical achievements of an individual human...there is no one machine that can beat an average human in everything he or she does."
Data Storage

Developer Shares A Recoverable Container Format That's File System Agnostic (github.com) 127

Long-time Slashdot reader MarcoPon writes: I created a thing: SeqBox. It's an archive/container format (and corresponding suite of tools) with some interesting and unique features. Basically an SBX file is composed of a series of sector-sized blocks with a small header with a recognizable signature, integrity check, info about the file they belong to, and a sequence number. The results of this encoding is the ability to recover an SBX container even if the file system is corrupted, completely lost or just unknown, no matter how much the file is fragmented.
Microsoft

Microsoft's Surface Revenue Drops By $285M (26%) (computerworld.com) 132

An anonymous reader quotes Computerworld: Revenue generated by Microsoft's Surface hardware during the March quarter was down 26% from the same period the year before, the company said yesterday as it briefed Wall Street. For the quarter, Surface produced $831 million, some $285 million less than the March quarter of 2016, for the largest year-over-year dollar decline ever... The revenue decline "indicates that the aging product needs a refresh badly," Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates, wrote in a note to clients today. "Price cutting and competing vendors' products will continue to create declines until new product is released, rumored for later this year." Microsoft threw cold water on any significant changes to the Surface line before June, forecasting that the current quarter will also post a revenue decline.
Input Devices

Computer Pioneer Harry Huskey Dies At Age 101 (bbc.co.uk) 46

Big Hairy Ian quotes the BBC: Engineer Harry Huskey, who helped build many of the first ever computers, has died aged 101. Dr. Huskey was a key member of the team that built the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) which first ran in February 1946. ENIAC is widely considered to be one of the first electronic, general purpose, programmable computers. Dr. Huskey also helped complete work on the Ace -- the Automatic Computing Engine -- designed by Alan Turing.
U.C. Santa Cruz also remembers Huskey's work on the Bendix G-15 in 1954, "a 950-pound predecessor to today's laptops" which is sometimes hailed as the first personal computer (since it didn't require a separate technician to run) -- though each one cost over $50,000. The idea of an "electronic brain" was still so new, it led Huskey to an appearance on Groucho Marx's radio show You Bet Your Life, where Groucho warned him that "They're pretty tricky those machines! I wouldn't trust 'em... They'll turn on your like a mad dog, doctor!"
Robotics

MIT Creates 3D-Printing Robot That Can Construct a Home Off-Grid In 14 Hours (mit.edu) 62

Kristine Lofgren writes: Home building hasn't changed much over the years, but leave it to MIT to take things to the next level. A new technology built at MIT can construct a simple dome structure in 14 hours and it's powered by solar panels, so you can take it to remote areas. MIT's 3D-printing robot can construct the entire basic structure of a building and can be customized to fit the local terrain in ways that traditional methods can't do. It even has a built-in scoop so it can prepare the building site and gather its own construction materials. You can watch a video of the 3D-printing robot in action here.
Robotics

Washington State Orchard Owners Look To Robots As Labor Shortage Worsens (seattletimes.com) 126

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Seattle Times: Harvesting Washington state's vast fruit orchards each year requires thousands of farmworkers, and many of them work illegally in the United States. That system eventually could change dramatically as at least two companies are rushing to get robotic fruit-picking machines to market. The robotic pickers don't get tired and can work 24 hours a day. FFRobotics and Abundant Robotics, of Hayward, California, are racing to get their mechanical pickers to market within the next couple of years. Members of the $7.5 billion annual Washington agriculture industry have long grappled with labor shortages, and depend on workers coming up from Mexico each year to harvest many crops. While financial details are not available, the builders say the robotic pickers should pay for themselves in two years. That puts the likely cost of the machines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each. FFRobotics is developing a machine that has three-fingered grips to grab fruit and twist or clip it from a branch. The machine would have between four and 12 robotic arms, and can pick up to 10,000 apples an hour, Gad Kober, a co-founder of Israel-based FFRobotics, said. One machine would be able to harvest a variety of crops, taking 85 to 90 percent of the crop off the trees, Kober said. Humans could pick the rest. Abundant Robotics is working on a picker that uses suction to vacuum apples off trees.
Transportation

Apple, Tesla Ask California To Change Its Proposed Policies On Self-Driving Car Testing (reuters.com) 29

Tesla and Apple have asked the state of California to change its proposed policies on self-driving cars to allow companies to test vehicles without traditional steering wheels and controls or human back-up drivers, among other things. Reuters reports: In a letter made public Friday, Apple made a series of suggested changes to the policy that is under development and said it looks forward to working with California and others "so that rapid technology development may be realized while ensuring the safety of the traveling public." Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google parent company Alphabet Inc, Ford Motor Co, Uber Technologies Inc, Toyota Motor Corp, Tesla Motors Inc and others also filed comments suggesting changes. Apple said California should revise how companies report self-driving system "disengagements." California currently requires companies to report how many times the self-driving system was deactivated and control handed back to humans because of a system failure or a traffic, weather or road situation that required human intervention. Apple said California's rules for development vehicles used only in testing could "restrict both the design and equipment that can be used in test vehicles." Tesla said California should not bar testing of autonomous vehicles that are 10,000 pounds (4,535 kg) or more. Tesla also said California should not prohibit the sale of non-self-driving vehicles previously used for autonomous vehicle testing.
AI

Amazon's Alexa Can Now Whisper, Bleep Out Swear Words, and Change Its Pitch (theverge.com) 34

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Amazon is trying to make its Alexa voice assistant sound more humanlike. Up until now, the female-sounding voice maintained an even, monotone cadence whenever speaking, but with Amazon's new Speech Synthesis Markup Language that the company introduced this week, Alexa can whisper, vary its speaking speed, and bleep out words. Developers can also add pauses, change the pronunciation of a word, spell a word out, add audio snippets, and insert special words and phrases into their skill. The Verge notes that "the language markups are [only] available to developers in the U.S., U.K. and Germany." Amazon will also be hosting a webinar on May 18th on the new code.
Nintendo

Nintendo Announces 2DS XL (theguardian.com) 52

The future for Nintendo is the Switch, or is it? Nintendo continues to keep things interesting. From a report: The ever-unpredictable hardware veteran has announced the Nintendo 2DS XL, a new version of the 2DS, which was itself a refreshed version of the 3DS. Featuring two enlarged displays, 4.88in on top and 4.18in on the bottom, and a clamshell design, the new format is lighter than the 3DS XL and of course lacks that machine's stereoscopic capabilities. Available in black and turquoise or white and orange and with built-in NFC support for amiibo cards and figures, it's a fully featured member of the extended 3DS family, even boasting the secondary C-pad nub like the New 3DS XL. It is priced at $150.
Patents

Apple Patent Hints At Wirelessly Charging Your iPhone Via Wi-Fi Routers (appleinsider.com) 140

According to AppleInsider, "Apple is experimenting with medium- to long-distance wireless charging technologies that could one day allow users to charge up their iPhones with nothing more than a Wi-Fi router." From the report: Detailed in Apple's patent application for "Wireless Charging and Communications Systems With Dual-Frequency Patch Antennas" is a method for transferring power to electronic devices over frequencies normally dedicated to data communications. In its various embodiments, the invention notes power transfer capabilities over any suitable wireless communications link, including cellular between 700 MHz and 2700 MHz, and Wi-Fi operating at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. More specifically, the document's claims apply to millimeter wave 802.11ad spectrum channels currently in use by the WiGig standard, which operates over the 60 GHz frequency band. Theoretically, the proposal opens the door to wire-free charging from in-home Wi-Fi routers to cellular nodes and even satellite signals. Of course, amplitude in a wireless system is normally a function of distance. Like conventional wireless charging techniques, Apple's design requires two devices -- a transmitter and receiver -- to function. Each device contains one or more antennas coupled to wireless circuitry capable of making phase and magnitude adjustments to transmitted and received signals. Such hardware can be employed in dynamic beam steering operations.
Bitcoin

Backdoor Could Allow Company To Shut Down 70% of All Bitcoin Mining Operations (bleepingcomputer.com) 101

An anonymous reader writes: "An anonymous security researcher has published details on a vulnerability named "Antbleed," which the author claims is a remote backdoor affecting Bitcoin mining equipment sold by Bitmain, the largest vendor of crypto-currency mining hardware on the market," reports Bleeping Computer. The backdoor code works by reporting mining equipment details to Bitmain servers, who can reply by instructing the customer's equipment to shut down. Supposedly introduced as a crude DRM to control illegal equipment, the company forgot to tell anyone about it, and even ignored a user who reported it last fall. One of the Bitcoin Core developers claims that if such command would ever be sent, it could potentially brick the customer's device for good. Bitmain is today's most popular seller of Bitcoin mining hardware, and its products account for 70% of the entire Bitcoin mining market. If someone hijack's the domain where this backdoor reports, he could be in the position to shut down Bitcoin mining operations all over the world, which are nothing more than the computations that verify Bitcoin transactions, effectively shutting down the entire Bitcoin ecosystem. Fortunately, there's a way to mitigate the backdoor's actions using local hosts files.
Businesses

Google Loses Top Hardware Executive (bloomberg.com) 26

randomErr writes: David Foster, who joined Alphabet Inc.'s Google in October as part of its aggressive hardware effort, has left the company. As the vice president of hardware product development he worked on the launch of the Pixel smartphone and Home speaker. Both of which are competitors to the Amazon Echo, Foster's previous employer. Google will not comment on why he is leaving.
Government

Energy Star Program For Homes And Appliances Is On Trump's Chopping Block (npr.org) 272

Appliance manufacturers and home builders are in Washington, D.C., today to celebrate a popular energy efficiency program, even as it's slated for elimination in President Trump's proposed budget. NPR adds: You probably know the program's little blue label with the star -- the Environmental Protection Agency says 90 percent of U.S. households do. [...] The 25-year-old Energy Star program appears to be targeted simply because it's run by the federal government. It's one of 50 EPA programs that would be axed under Trump's budget plan, which would shrink the agency's funding by more than 30 percent. Critics of Energy Star say the government should get involved in the marketplace only when absolutely necessary. But that argument doesn't hold sway for the program's legions of supporters, which span nonprofits, companies and trade groups.

Slashdot Top Deals