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  • Indiana University Researchers Get $1 Million Grant To Study Memes

    An anonymous reader writes with news that the NSF has just awarded a group of researchers a grant to study the life cycle of memes. "Indiana University is receiving nearly $1 million in federal grant money to investigate the genesis, spread, and demise of Internet memes. The grant from the National Science Foundation awards four Indiana researchers $919,917 to for a project called Truthy that will, as the grant's abstract explains, "explore why some ideas cause viral explosions while others are quickly forgotten." (And yes, in case you're wondering, the name was inspired by Stephen Colbert's neologism "truthiness.") The government-funded research is aimed at identifying which memes are organic and which ones are mere astroturf. "While the vast majority of memes arise in a perfectly organic manner, driven by the complex mechanisms of life on the Web, some are engineered by the shady machinery of high-profile congressional campaigns," Truthy's About page explains."

    120 comments | 11 hours ago

  • African States Aim To Improve Internet Interconnections

    jfruh writes A rapidly growing percentage of Africans have access to the Internet — and yet most of the content they access, even things aimed specifically at an African audience, is hosted on servers elsewhere. The reason is a bewildering array of laws in different nations that make cross-border cooperation a headache, a marked contrast to places like Europe with uniform Internet regulations. At the Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum in Senegal, a wide variety of Internet actors from the continent are aiming to solve the problem.

    26 comments | yesterday

  • Netflix Open Sources Internal Threat Monitoring Tools

    alphadogg (971356) writes Netflix has released three internal tools it uses to catch hints on the Web that hackers might target its services. "Many security teams need to stay on the lookout for Internet-based discussions, posts and other bits that may be of impact to the organizations they are protecting," wrote Andy Hoernecke and Scott Behrens of Netflix's Cloud Security Team. One of the tools, called Scumblr, can be used to create custom searches of Google sites, Twitter and Facebook for users or keywords.

    20 comments | yesterday

  • CenturyLink: Comcast Is Trying To Prevent Competition In Its Territories

    mpicpp sends word that CenturyLink has accused Comcast of restricting competition in the development of internet infrastructure. CenturyLink asked the FCC to block the acquisition of Time Warner Cable to prevent Comcast from further abusing its size and power. For example, Comcast is urging local authorities to deny CenturyLink permission to build out new infrastructure if they can't reach all of a city's residents during the initial buildout. Of course, a full buildout into a brand new market is much more expensive than installing connections a bit at a time. Comcast argues that CenturyLink shouldn't be able to cherry-pick the wealthy neighborhoods and avoid the poor ones. CenturyLink points out that no other ISP complains about this, and says allowing the merger would let Comcast extend these tactics to regions currently operated by Time Warner Cable.

    108 comments | yesterday

  • Ask Slashdot: What To Do About Repeated Internet Overbilling?

    An anonymous reader writes "AT&T has been overbilling my account based on overcounting DSL internet usage (they charge in 50 gigabyte units after the first 150). I have been using a Buffalo NFinity Airstation as a managed switch to count all traffic. As you may know, this device runs firmware based on dd-wrt and has hidden telnet functionality, so I am able to load a script to count traffic directly onto the device. I have an auto-scraper that collects the data and saves it on my computer's hard disk every two minutes while the computer is running. While it is not running, the 2 minute counters accumulate in RAM on the device. Power problems are not normally an issue here; and even when they are I can tell it has happened. The upshot of all this is I can measure the exact amount of download bandwidth and a guaranteed overestimate of upload bandwidth in bytes reliably. I have tested this by transferring known amounts of data and can account for every byte counted, including ethernet frame headers. AT&T's billing reporting reports usage by day only, lags two days, and uses some time basis other than midnight. It is also reading in my testing a fairly consistent 14% higher whenever the basis doesn't disturb the test by using too much bandwidth too close to midnight.

    AT&T has already refused to attempt to fix the billing meter, and asserts they have tested it and found it correct. Yet they refuse to provide a realtime readout of the counter that would make independent testing trivial. I've been through the agencies (CPUC, FCC, and Weights & Measures) and can't find one that is interested, AT&T will not provide any means for reasonable independent testing of the meter. It is my understanding that if there is a meter and its calibration cannot be checked, there is a violation of the law, yet I can't find an agency that can even accept such a claim (I'm not getting "your claim is meritless", but "we don't handle that"). If indeed they are not overbilling, my claim of no way to verify the meter still stands. My options are running thin here. So that my account can be identified by someone who recognizes the case: 7a6c74964fafd56c61e06abf6c820845cbcd4fc0 (bit commitment).

    334 comments | yesterday

  • GOG Introduces DRM-Free Movie Store

    Via Engadget comes news that GOG, the DRM-free game store platform, has launched a DRM-free movie store. The initial set of movies are gamer oriented, and you won't find major studio releases (yet, and not for a lack of trying on the part of GOG). From GOG: Our goal is to offer you cinema classics as well as some all-time favorite TV series with no DRM whatsoever, for you to download and keep on your hard drive or stream online whenever you feel like it. We talked to most of the big players in the movie industry and we often got a similar answer: "We love your ideas, but we do not want to be the first ones. We will gladly follow, but until somebody else does it first, we do not want to take the risk". DRM-Free distribution is not a concept their lawyers would accept without hesitation.

    We kind of felt that would be the case and that it's gonna take patience and time to do it, to do it, to do it right. That's quite a journey ahead of us, but every gamer knows very well that great adventures start with one small step. So why not start with something that feels very familiar? We offer you a number of gaming and Internet culture documentaries - all of them DRM-Free, very reasonably priced, and presenting some fascinating insight into topics close to a gamer's heart.
    Videos are mostly 1080p (~8GB for a 90 minute film) and can be acquired for about $6. They're using h.264/mp4 and not VP9/Matroska, but you can't have everything ;). If you don't want to download that much data, it looks like all of the videos are also available in 720p and 576p.

    126 comments | yesterday

  • Time Warner Cable Experiences Nationwide Internet Outage

    Wolfrider (856) writes Reports are coming in from multiple U.S. states that TWC is having a major Internet outage since early this morning. ... TWC's customer service reps are reportedly a bit overwhelmed by call volume at the moment, and no ETA yet. According to CNET, most locations should be more-or-less back online as of 7 a.m. EDT or so (my TWC connection came back around 7:30 a.m. EDT). TWC says it's maintenance gone wrong: In response to a query by CNET, Time Warner Cable issued this statement: "At 430am ET this morning during our routine network maintenance, an issue with our Internet backbone created disruption with our Internet and On Demand services. As of 6am ET services were largely restored as updates continue to bring all customers back online."

    119 comments | yesterday

  • Comcast Tells Government That Its Data Caps Aren't Actually "Data Caps"

    mpicpp (3454017) writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica about Comcast's data caps that aren't data caps:Customers must pay more if they exceed limits — but it's not a cap, Comcast says. For the past couple of years, Comcast has been trying to convince journalists and the general public that it doesn't impose any "data caps" on its Internet service. ... That's despite the fact that Comcast in some cities enforces limits on the amount of data customers can use and issues financial penalties for using more than the allotment. Comcast has said this type of billing will probably roll out to its entire national footprint within five years, perhaps alongside a pricier option to buy unlimited data. ... Comcast's then-new approach was touted to "effectively offer unlimited usage of our services because customers will have the ability to buy as much data as they want."

    316 comments | 2 days ago

  • A Horrifying Interactive Map of Global Internet Censorship

    An anonymous reader writes "Imagine a world where the book burners had won. A world where information is filtered and must be approved by governments before it can be accessed by their citizens. A world where people are held down and kept in line by oppressive regimes that restrict the free flow of information and bombard citizens with government-approved messages. Now stop imagining, because this horrifying world already exists..."

    156 comments | 2 days ago

  • Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group

    Jason Koebler (3528235) writes American Commitment, a conservative group with strong ties to the Koch brothers has been bombarding inboxes with emails filled with disinformation and fearmongering in an attempt to start a "grassroots" campaign to kill net neutrality — at one point suggesting that "Marxists" think that preserving net neutrality is a good idea. American Commitment president Phil Kerpen suggests that reclassifying the internet as a public utility is the "first step in the fight to destroy American capitalism altogether" and says that the FCC is plotting a "federal Internet takeover," a move that "sounds more like a story coming out of China or Russia."

    500 comments | 2 days ago

  • Robo Brain Project Wants To Turn the Internet Into a Robotic Hivemind

    malachiorion writes Researchers are force-feeding the internet into a system called Robo Brain. The system has absorbed a billion images and 120,000 YouTube videos so far, and aims to digest 10 times that within a year, in order to create machine-readable commands for robots—how to pour coffee, for example. From the article: "The goal is as direct as the project’s name—to create a centralized, always-online brain for robots to tap into. The more Robo Brain learns from the internet, the more direct lessons it can share with connected machines. How do you turn on a toaster? Robo Brain knows, and can share 3D images of the appliance and the relevant components. It can tell a robot what a coffee mug looks like, and how to carry it by the handle without dumping the contents. It can recognize when a human is watching a television by gauging relative positions, and advise against wandering between the two. Robo Brain looks at a chair or a stool, and knows that these are things that people sit on. It’s a system that understands context, and turns complex associations into direct commands for physical robots."

    108 comments | 3 days ago

  • Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

    Bennett Haselton writes After footage of James Foley's beheading by ISIS terrorists was posted online on Tuesday, Twitter and Youtube elected to remove any footage or links to the footage posted by users. Obviously this reduces the incentive for terrorist groups to post such content, by shrinking their audience, but it also reduces the public's access to information. Would it be ethical to make the content available, if it was preceded by an advertisement for a cause that runs counter to everything ISIS stands for? Read below to see what Bennett has to say.

    300 comments | 3 days ago

  • Airbnb To Hand Over Data On 124 Hosts To New York Attorney General

    Peer-to-peer lodging service Airbnb has agreed to hand over data on 124 of its hosts in New York as part of an investigation by the state's Attorney General into the operation of illegal hotels. The AG first requested data for almost all of Airbnb's hosts in the state, but after "legal wrangling," that number was whittled down to the current 124. The data in question will be unredacted personal information, meaning names and addresses. In a blog post, Airbnb's David Hantman said, "nothing about these hosting profiles suggests [the Attorney General] is after anyone but individuals who may be flagrantly misusing our platform." Airbnb is confident that the targets of this request are hosts considered to be "bad actors," but they don't explain what classifies somebody as a "bad actor."

    145 comments | 3 days ago

  • Ross Ulbricht Faces New Drug Charges

    Alleged Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht now faces additional drug-related charges. Ars Technica gives a run-down on the run-down, and shows an array of driver's licenses that can't look good to a jury: According to a 17-page amended indictment filed late Thursday night, the government introduced one count of “narcotics trafficking,” of “distribution of narcotics by means of the Internet,” and of "conspiracy to traffic in fraudulent identification documents." Previously, Ulbricht was indicted in February 2014 on four formal criminal offenses: narcotics trafficking conspiracy, continuing criminal enterprise, computer hacking conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy. Ulbricht pleaded not guilty to the previous charges, and he seems likely to plead not guilty to the new ones as well.

    102 comments | 4 days ago

  • Securing Networks In the Internet of Things Era

    An anonymous reader writes "Gartner reckons that the number of connected devices will hit 26 billion by 2020, almost 30 times the number of devices connected to the IoT in 2009. This estimate doesn't even include connected PCs, tablets and smartphones. The IoT will represent the biggest change to our relationship with the Internet since its inception. Many IoT devices themselves suffer from security limitations as a result of their minimal computing capabilities. For instance, the majority don't support sufficiently robust mechanisms for authentication, leaving network admins with only weak alternatives or sometimes no alternatives at all. As a result, it can be difficult for organizations to provide secure network access for certain IoT devices."

    106 comments | 5 days ago

  • Illinois University Restricts Access To Social Media, Online Political Content

    onproton writes Northern Illinois University recently began restricting student access to web pages that contain "illegal or unethical" content which, according to University policy, includes resources used for "political activities...and the organization or participation in meetings, rallies and demonstrations." A student raised concerns after attempting to access the Wikipedia page for Westboro Baptist Church, and receiving a filter message informing him that his access of this page would likely violate the University's Acceptable Use Policy, along with a warning that "all violations would be reviewed." This has lead to questions about whether some policies that restrict student access to information are in the best interest of the primary goal of education.

    129 comments | about a week ago

  • Finding an ISIS Training Camp Using Google Earth

    An anonymous reader writes: Terrorist organization ISIS has been in the news a lot lately for their hostile activities in Iraq and Syria. They've also been very active online, posting propaganda and photos on various social networking sites to try to recruit more members. Frequently, they'll have pictures of themselves in nondescript locations — but even carefully selected images give clues to a real location. Citizen journalists at Bellingcat analyzed a group of these photos, comparing buildings and bridges in the background to images from Google Earth. With very little to go on, they were able to pinpoint the location of a terrorist training camp.

    133 comments | about a week ago

  • Students From States With Faster Internet Tend To Have Higher Test Scores

    An anonymous reader sends word of correlation found between higher internet speeds and higher test scores. Quoting: The numbers—first crunched by the Internet provider comparison site HSI — show a distinct trend between faster Internet and higher ACT test scores. On the high end, Massachusetts scores big with an average Internet speed of 13.1Mbps, and an average ACT test score of 24.1. Mississippi, on the other hand, has an average speed of just 7.6Mbps and an average score of 18.9.

    In between those two states, the other 48 fall in a positive correlation that, while not perfect, is quite undeniable. According to HSI's Edwin Ivanauskas, the correlation is stronger than that between household income and test scores, which have long been considered to be firmly connected to each other. The ACT scores were gathered from ACT.org, which has the official rankings and averages for the 2013 test, and the speed ratings were taken from Internet analytics firm Akamai's latest report.

    175 comments | about a week ago

  • Researchers Made a Fake Social Network To Infiltrate China's Internet Censors

    Jason Koebler writes: In order to get inside China's notorious internet filter, Harvard researcher Gary King created his own fake social network to gain access to the programs used to censor content, so he could reverse-engineer the system. "From inside China, we created our own social media website, purchased a URL, rented server space, contracted with one of the most popular software platforms in China used to create these sites, submitted, automatically reviewed, posted, and censored our own submissions," King wrote in a study published in Science. "We had complete access to the software; we were even able to get their recommendations on how to conduct censorship on our own site in compliance with government standards."

    49 comments | about a week ago

  • NSA Agents Leak Tor Bugs To Developers

    An anonymous reader writes: We've known for a while that NSA specifically targets Tor, because they want to disrupt one of the last remaining communication methods they aren't able to tap or demand access to. However, not everybody at the NSA is on board with this strategy. Tor developer Andrew Lewman says even as flaws in Tor are rooted out by the NSA and British counterpart GCHQ, other agents from the two organizations leak those flaws directly to the developers, so they can be fixed quickly. He said, "You have to think about the type of people who would be able to do this and have the expertise and time to read Tor source code from scratch for hours, for weeks, for months, and find and elucidate these super-subtle bugs or other things that they probably don't get to see in most commercial software." Lewman estimates the Tor Project receives these reports on a monthly basis. He also spoke about how a growing amount of users will affect Tor. He suggests a massive company like Google or Facebook will eventually have to take up the task of making Tor scale up to millions of users.

    116 comments | about a week ago

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