Earlier this week, The Linux Foundation announced that it would be working with edX, a non-profit online learning site governed by Harvard and MIT, to make its “Introduction to Linux” course free and open to all.
The Linux Foundation has long offered a wide variety of training courses through its website, but those can generally cost upwards of $2,000. This introductory class, which usually costs $2,400, will be the first from the Linux Foundation to run as a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). There is no limit on enrollment through edX's platform.
The course will be held this summer, although an official start date has not been posted yet. Jennifer Cloer, Director of Communications for the Linux Foundation, said that over 2,500 people signed up for the course within the first 24 hours of it being posted. There are no prerequisites, and a note on the course's information page says that most users will find the course takes between 40 and 60 hours to complete.
Leaks of upcoming versions of Microsoft's software are nothing new, but it's a little surprising when the source is Microsoft itself. The Spring update to Windows 8.1, known as Update 1, was briefly available from Windows Update earlier this week.
The update wasn't a free-for-all. To get Windows Update to install it, you had to create a special (undocumented, secret) registry key to indicate that you were in a particular testing group; only then were the updates displayed and downloadable.
After news of this spread, Microsoft removed the hefty—700MB—update from its servers, but not before it had spread across all manner of file-sharing sites.
Twitter's first annual financial results were revealed on Thursday. Buried deep in the document is the price it paid IBM after it was confronted with a patent infringement threat by Big Blue: $36 million. Bloomberg was first to highlight the price tag.
IBM sent a letter to Twitter in November saying it was infringing at least three IBM patents. That resulted in a negotiation that ended up with Twitter getting a license to IBM's patents, acquiring about 900 of them for itself, and (we now know) paying $36 million.
The patent exchange was spun in positive terms, as something that would boost Twitter's intellectual property portfolio to help it defend itself from other threats against competitors. The exchange does do that, but this "deal" wouldn't have happened but at the end of IBM's massive patent gun, which was pointed at Twitter right before its IPO.
I'm writing a Java implementation of a card game, so I created a special type of Collection I'm calling a Zone. All modification methods of Java's Collection are unsupported, but there's a method in the Zone API, move(Zone, Card), which moves a Card from the given Zone to itself (accomplished by package-private techniques). This way, I can ensure that no cards are taken out of a zone and simply vanish; they can only be moved to another zone.
Two years ago, a giant sinkhole swallowed trees whole in a Louisiana bayou. This year, Nasa says it could have predicted it.
It might sound like too little too late, but with five-to-ten times more sinkholes occurring in this country because of the wet weather this year, any potential tool for mapping precarious landmasses will be most welcome.
The sinkhole Nasa is basing its study on, near Bayou Corne, was a monster measuring 10.1 hectares. It was 229m (751ft) deep by the time it ceased swallowing everything in sight. In a paper published in the journal Geology, Cathleen Jones and Ron Blom, from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, have shown how radar data captured by Nasa's Uninhabited Airborne Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) between 2011 and 2012 could have been used to predict the natural catastrophe.
Spiritual groups that hope to attract your interest may exhort you to “Be a part of something bigger than yourself!” But James Lovelock would tell you that you can already check that off your to-do list.
In the early 1970s, Lovelock—with the help of Lynn Margulis—developed the Gaia Hypothesis, which views the Earth and its ecosystems as resembling a sort of superorganism. Lovelock was working for NASA at the time, developing instruments that would aid the Viking landers in looking for signs of life on Mars, so he was thinking about how life interacts with its environment on a planetary scale. And Margulis was famed for her ideas about symbiosis.
This intellectual background led to the idea that organisms are not just passive inhabitants riding a big rock that determined whether they lived or died. Organisms were active participants in the molding of their environment, tweaking and improving conditions as part of a massive, self-regulating system.
Last month, in a filing with the notoriously secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the United States said that it wants to keep existing records beyond the existing five-year limit due to the handful of lawsuits challenging the National Security Agency’s bulk metadata collection program.
But on Friday, in a win for civil liberties advocates, a FISC judge denied (PDF) that motion.
Judge Reggie Walton writes:
Andreas Antonopoulos, a well-known figure in the Bitcoin community and the Chief Security Officer of Blockchain.info, has decided to raise money (in bitcoins, naturally) to give to Dorian S. Nakamoto, who Newsweek claims invented Bitcoin, although Nakamoto vigorously denies it himself.
On Thursday, Newsweek published its bombshell story, reporting that the Southern California man is the famed Satoshi Nakamoto, the elusive inventor of Bitcoin. But later that day, the Associated Press scored an exclusive interview with Dorian Nakamoto, who denied any and all connection to Bitcoin, saying that he had never heard of the cryptocurrency until a few weeks ago. (Newsweek continues to stand by its reporting.)
Personal Audio LLC has recently become one of the more well-known "patent trolls" due to its broad claims to owning basic podcasting technology. The company has filed lawsuits in East Texas, claiming that its patents on "episodic content" technology, which stem from founder Jim Logan's failed "Magazines on Tape" business, entitle it to royalties from podcasters large and small.
That got the company special attention from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which crowdfunded a challenge to the Personal Audio patents. EFF asked donors to help raise $30,000 to file an "inter partes review" at the US Patent and Trademark Office. That goal was quickly surpassed, and EFF ultimately received about $80,000 from more than 1,300 donors upset about the "podcasting patent."
In January, Personal Audio sent a subpoena to EFF, demanding the full list of donor names. It believes some of those names are connected to companies it has sued in Texas. Those include NBC, CBS, and Fox, as well as the HowStuffWorks podcast (Discovery Channel), Ace Broadcasting (which produces Adam Carolla's podcast), and a smaller Internet radio company called TogiNet.
Next week, the European Parliament will consider an unlikely, last-ditch effort to grant Edward Snowden protection against criminal prosecution and/or extradition to the United States.
The first amendment (PDF) to Resolution A7-0139 would “call on the EU Member States to drop criminal charges, if any, against Edward Snowden and to grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as a whistleblower and international human rights defender.”
This amendment was previously rejected by the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs (LIBE) in February, but it will be brought back before the entire parliament at its upcoming March 12 session in Strasbourg.
In 2011, Raphael Pirker used a RiteWing Zephyr II remote-controlled flying wing to record aerial video of a hospital campus for use in a television advertisement. That act resulted in the Federal Aviation Administration issuing a fine to Pirker of $10,000 for that commercial use of an unmanned aircraft. But now an administrative judge with the National Transportation Safety Board has struck down that fine, contending that FAA regulations can’t be applied to the styrofoam drone Pirker flew.
Pirker, an Austrian who lives in Hong Kong, is also known as “Trappy” of Team BlackSheep, a company that specializes in creating “first-person view” aerial video with remote-controlled aircraft. In November of 2010, he posted a video filmed from a drone flying over New York City—including a close buzz of the Statue of Liberty. Law enforcement did not interfere with Pirker, and he even gave the New York Police Department and the National Parks Service a shout-out for “staying friendly, professional, and positive.” But the FAA was not amused.
The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), which lobbies for "model aviators" and acts as a liaison to the FAA for them, was also taken aback by how close Pirker’s remote aircraft—flown in first-person view mode from a distance—came to buildings, ships, bridges, and a national landmark. In a statement for the AMA, spokesperson Rich Hanson said, “The nature of the flight was outside the realm of recreational aeromodeling activity as defined by the AMA Safety Code and posed a significant threat to people and property.”
It's been months now since Battlefield 4 launched to widespread server problems, and developer DICE is still publicly addressing the netcode issues plaguing the game (though, to be fair, many of the worst failures have already been fixed). Don't worry, though—publisher EA seems relatively confident that the continued issues with the game's online experience haven't damaged the Battlefield brand as a whole.
Gamespot caught statements from EA CFO Blake Jorgensen at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference earlier this week, where the executive expressed confidence that players aren't holding the game's initial online troubles against the Battlefield brand itself.
"We haven't seen any damage," Jorgensen said, regarding the franchise's image. "Clearly we're very focused on protecting that brand... We've also tried to provide extra content to the consumers to make sure they keep coming back and playing the game, and we're finding that it's working very well. I don't see that there's a damage issue. I think for us it's making sure that we're providing great gameplay for the consumer and we'll continue to do that."
The scourge of the remote access trojan (RAT)—those predatory apps that use Web microphones and cameras to surreptitiously spy on victims—has formally entered the Android arena. Not only have researchers found a covert RAT briefly available for download in the official Google Play store, they have also detected a full-featured toolkit for sale in underground forums that could make it easy for other peeping Toms to do the same thing.
The specific RAT in Google Play was disguised as a legitimate app called Parental Control, according to Marc Rogers, principal security researcher at Lookout Mobile, a provider of antimalware software for Android phones. He doesn't know exactly how long it was available on Google servers, but he believes it wasn't long. It was downloaded 10 to 50 times.
The Parental Control trojan was built using Dendroid, a newly discovered software development tool that sells for about $300. Dendroid provides an impressive suite of features, including all the tools to build the command and control infrastructure to control RATted phones and receive audio and video captured from their mics and cameras. Dendroid also allows attackers to intercept, block, or send SMS text messages on compromised phones; download stored pictures and browser histories; and open a dialogue box that asks for passwords. It includes "binder" functions that allow the malicious code to be attached, or bound, into otherwise useful or innocuous apps.
Tennessee is one of 20 states that have restrictions on municipal broadband networks, enacted to protect private Internet service providers from competition.Now, though, there are four bills in the Tennessee House and Senate that would "un-do some of the restrictions previous legies put in place several years ago," broadband industry analyst Craig Settles wrote yesterday.
"This kind of reversal is practically unheard of," he wrote. "What’s more surprising? Republicans lawmakers, typically the party that leads the charge against public-owned networks, are taking the lead on many of these bills in Tennessee!"
ISPs aren't happy about this, naturally. "We are particularly concerned about four bills that have been introduced this session," Tennessee Telecommunications Associations chief Levoy Knowles said in an announcement. The TTA claimed to be presenting "concerns of rural consumers" but are more worried about the potential of losing customers. "These bills would allow municipalities to expand beyond their current footprint and offer broadband in our service areas. If this were to happen, municipalities could cherry-pick our more populated areas, leaving the more remote, rural consumers to bear the high cost of delivering broadband to these less populated regions," Knowles said.
The developers of Yik Yak, an app that works as an anonymous message board for up to 500 people in close proximity to one another, have selectively disabled the app's use in Chicago following vicious sniping and rumor mongering by children using it at school. WLS-TV in Chicago reports that people in the city won't be able to use Yik Yak until the developers figure out a way to get youth usage under control.
Apps for sharing information anonymously like Wut and Secret have seen a recent surge in popularity. In the case of Wut and Secret, users are connected to people they actually know—Secret uses the mobile device's contact list, and Wut's (anonymous) contacts are powered by Facebook.
Yik Yak, by contrast, connects a large swath of people—friends, enemies, and strangers—based entirely on their location. Among middle and high schoolers, this becomes many lockers'- and bathroom walls'-worth of pain and drama. WLS-TV reports students in Chicago have used it to spread rumors about rape, and in other locales, schools have been evacuated because of bomb threats on the service.
When Titanfall finally sees its worldwide release next week, South Africa will not be among the countries to get a version of the game. Early this morning, EA South Africa announced via Facebook that it has decided to hold off on a local release after poor Internet performance during the game's recent beta test. South Africa's Gamezone reports that local preorders are being canceled both by Origin and area brick-and-mortar retailers.
"After conducting recent online tests for Titanfall, we found that the performance rates in South Africa were not as high as we need to guarantee a great experience, so we have decided not to release Titanfall in South Africa at this time," the post reads. "We understand this is a disappointment for local fans and will keep fans posted on any future plans regarding the release of Titanfall in South Africa."
Respawn Entertainment's Vince Zampella followed up on Twitter, noting that "performance wasn't as good in the area as we would like, don't want to sell you something that isn't great." He later added that the company "will look further into [South African release] after launch."
The Tupolev Tu-95, known among NATO nations as the “Bear,” was long the core of the Soviet Air Force’s long-range strategic bomber force. Still in service in the Russian Air Force, the turboprop aircraft, which holds the record for the fastest propeller-driven aircraft ever, first took to the air in the 1950s. Now, one can be the centerpiece of your own personal bomber fleet—if you post the winning bid on eBay.
A Tu-95MS, a cruise missile launching variant of the Bear built in 1987 that was retired by the Ukrainian Air Force after only 454 hours of flight time, has been posted for sale on the auction site by a German seller. The plane, which has been demilitarized and comes with all the appropriate documentation, is currently sitting in Ukraine.The seller's photo on eBay—note one missing set of propellers. The aircraft needs some loving care before becoming a supervillian's airborne lair.
Sadly, the aircraft is not exactly ready to fly. “It is necessary to make a technical service and prolongation of the data limit,” the plane’s listing states. However, the seller is willing to disassemble the aircraft and deliver it to a harbor for international shipping. And if you’re handy with turbines and Soviet-era electronics, you could have this baby in the air again in no time.
Earlier this week, a veteran of the first viewing of Cosmos gave his take on the new series. Today, we've got someone who is viewing it with fresh eyes.
Earthlings, fasten your seatbelts. You’re in for a spectacular journey through spacetime.
More than 30 years since the original series, Cosmos will once again find its way into people’s homes, this time led by Neil deGrasse Tyson. The new series—called Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey—premieres this Sunday, March 9, at 9:00pm ET/PT on FOX.
"Make a cryptocurrency," they said. "All the cool kids are doing it," they said. And so we did. And for most of launch day, it fell on its ass and flailed around like a dying giraffe.
Cyrus Farivar's piece on Arscoin tells you how the currency was created, and Andrew Cunningham's piece on mining tells you how to get them. But while Cyrus and Andrew and other staffers were busy in early January ferreting out the means to create Arscoin, tech wizard Lee Aylward and I had our own task: we had to figure out what kind of infrastructure we needed to put behind our funny money. Getting it working proved to be frustrating and occasionally hilarious—and, as is so typical with the Internet, once launch day hit all the planning and preparation went flying out the window.
Now that we're on our third day of public Arscoin mining, things seem to be mostly stable. But what exactly goes into the backend of a scrypt-based mining operation? How do pools look from the administrative side? What kind of hamster-powered wreck of a server did we choose to host this on? Why didn't we plan better, and what kind of magic did we throw at this mess to make it work right? And that stuff we did to fix the pool—why didn't we just do that in the first place?
OS X 10.9.2 was just released last week, but Apple has already begun testing for version 10.9.3, and the update will apparently come with some goodies for users of 4K displays. According to a report by 9to5Mac, the new update enables HiDPI "Retina" scaling on 4K displays that didn't offer the option in previous OS X versions. It's possible to enable HiDPI display modes on any monitor in OS X with some tweaking, but Apple is apparently interested in supporting Retina-style output on high-resolution monitors by default.
Apple made a big 4K push with its new Mac Pro, which can support up to three 4K displays at once, thanks to its twin GPUs and six Thunderbolt 2.0 ports. However, the company doesn't yet make its own 4K Thunderbolt Display—current Mac Pro buyers can add $3,600 32-inch Sharp 4K displays to their orders, or they can bring their own monitors. 9to5Mac's testing was conducted with what appears to be a 39-inch Seiki Digital display, which as of this writing can be had on Amazon for $500 (though it doesn't support a 60Hz refresh rate at 4K).
According to others who have installed the new beta, 10.9.3 also apparently enables 60Hz 4K output on the 2013 Retina MacBook Pros. The Intel and Nvidia GPUs that power these MacBooks were previously capable of 60Hz 4K output when running Windows, but were limited to lower refresh rates in OS X. Higher refresh rates make for a smoother, more pleasant viewing experience and are especially useful when editing movies, playing games, or in any other activities where response time is important. Those with older Macs likely won't see 60Hz 4K support even after installing the update—the 2013 Retina MacBook Pros and 2013 Mac Pro are the only systems that support the requisite DisplayPort 1.2 spec. iMacs, MacBook Airs, and the Mac Mini will need to wait for a Thunderbolt 2 upgrade before they can drive high-resolution displays at the higher refresh rate.