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Twitter

SeaWorld and Others Discover That a Hashtag Can Become a Bashtag 112

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-hit-with-your-own-stick dept.
HughPickens.com writes Alison Griswold writes that in an effort to improve its tanking image, SeaWorld launched a new advertising campaign this week to educate the public about its "leadership in the care of killer whales" and other work to protect whales in captivity and in the wild. As part of that head-on initiative, someone at SeaWorld decided to invite Twitter users to pose their questions to the company directly using the hashtag #AskSeaWorld. That was not a good idea as twitter users bashed Sea World relentlessly.. "As easy as it is to make fun of SeaWorld here, the real question is why any company still thinks hosting an open Twitter forum could be good for public relations," writes Griswold. "So maybe SeaWorld's social and PR folks just really have no idea what they're doing. Even so, you'd think they'd have learned from the corporate failures before them."

Let's review some of the times this has backfired, starting with the infamous McDonald's #McDStories Twitter campaign of January 2012. Rather than prompting customers to share their heart-warming McDonald's anecdotes, the hashtag gave critics a highly visible forum to share their top McDonald's horror stories. MacDonalds pulled the campaign within two hours but they discovered that crowd-sourced campaigns are hard to control. Three years later the #McDStories hashtag is still gathering comments. "Twitter Q&As are a terrible idea.," concludes Griswold. "A well-meaning hashtag gives critics an easy way to assemble and voice their complaints in a public forum. Why companies still try them is a great mystery. Maybe they'll all finally learn from SeaWorld and give this one horrible PR trick up for good."
China

Github Under JS-Based "Greatfire" DDoS Attack, Allegedly From Chinese Government 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the year-of-the-ddos dept.
An anonymous reader writes: During the past two days, popular code hosting site GitHub has been under a DDoS attack, which has led to intermittent service interruptions. As blogger Anthr@X reports from traceroute lists, the attack originated from MITM-modified JavaScript files for the Chinese company Baidu's user tracking code, changing the unencrypted content as it passed through the great firewall of China to request the URLs github.com/greatfire/ and github.com/cn-nytimes/. The Chinese government's dislike of widespread VPN usage may have caused it to arrange the attack, where only people accessing Baidu's services from outside the firewall would contribute to the DDoS. This wouldn't have been the first time China arranged this kind of "protest."
Businesses

Win Or Lose, Discrimination Suit Is Having an Effect On Silicon Valley 346

Posted by samzenpus
from the to-pay-or-not-to-pay-that-is-the-question dept.
SpzToid sends word that the Ellen Pao vs. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers discrimination case wrapped up yesterday. No matter what the outcome turns out to be, it has already affected how business is being done in Silicon Valley. "'Even before there's a verdict in this case, and regardless of what the verdict is, people in Silicon Valley are now talking,' said Kelly Dermody, managing partner at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, who chairs the San Francisco law firm's employment practice group. 'People are second-guessing and questioning whether there are exclusionary practices [and] everyday subtle acts of exclusion that collectively limit women's ability to succeed or even to compete for the best opportunities. And that's an incredibly positive impact.' Women in tech have long complained about an uneven playing field — lower pay for equal work, being passed over for promotions and a hostile 'brogrammer' culture — and have waited for a catalyst to finally overhaul the status quo. This trial — pitting a disgruntled, multimillionaire former junior partner against a powerful Menlo Park, Calif., venture capital firm — was far from the open-and-shut case that many women had hoped for. More gender discrimination suits against big tech firms are expected to follow; some already have, including lawsuits against Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc."
Security

Many Password Strength Meters Are Downright Weak, Researchers Say 159

Posted by timothy
from the it's-like-pressing-the-walk-button dept.
alphadogg writes "Website password strength meters often tell you only what you want to hear rather than what you need to hear. That's the finding from researchers at Concordia University in Montreal, who examined the usefulness of those ubiquitous red-yellow-green password strength testers on websites run by big names such as Google, Yahoo, Twitter and Microsoft/Skype. The researchers used algorithms to send millions of 'not-so-good' passwords through these meters, as well as through the meters of password management services such as LastPass and 1Password, and were largely underwhelmed by what they termed wildly inconsistent results. Inconsistent can go both directions: I've seen password-strength meters that balked at absolutely everything (accepting weak passwords as good, after calling wildly long and random ones poor).
Programming

A Bechdel Test For Programmers? 515

Posted by timothy
from the this-code-feels-different dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes In order for a movie or television show to pass the Bechdel Test (named after cartoonist and MacArthur genius Alison Bechdel), it must feature two female characters, have those two characters talk to one another, and have those characters talk to one another about something other than a man. A lot of movies and shows don't pass. How would programming culture fare if subjected to a similar test? One tech firm, 18F, decided to find out after seeing a tweet from Laurie Voss, CTO of npm, which explained the parameters of a modified Bechdel Test. According to Voss, a project that passes the test must feature at least one function written by a woman developer, that calls a function written by another woman developer. 'The conversation started with us quickly listing the projects that passed the Bechdel coding test, but then shifted after one of our devs then raised a good point,' read 18F's blog posting on the experiment. 'She said some of our projects had lots of female devs, but did not pass the test as defined.' For example, some custom languages don't have functions, which means a project built using those languages would fail even if written by women. Nonetheless, both startups and larger companies could find the modified Bechdel Test a useful tool for opening up a discussion about gender balance within engineering and development teams.
Security

Possible Twitch.tv Security Breach 49

Posted by Soulskill
from the another-day,-another-breach dept.
New submitter FalleStar writes: Today, the world's largest video game livestreaming website, Twitch.tv, posted the following blog entry: "We are writing to let you know that there may have been unauthorized access to some Twitch user account information. For your protection, we have expired passwords and stream keys and have disconnected accounts from Twitter and YouTube. As a result, you will be prompted to create a new password the next time you attempt to log into your Twitch account. We also recommend that you change your password at any website where you use the same or a similar password." The full details of the breach have yet to be released. Back in a 2013 blog post, Twitch reported that one of their CDNs had mistakenly exposed user account information, and they mentioned that their user passwords are hashed, but did not indicate whether or not they are salted. In addition to the blog post, Twitch users are being notified of the intrusion by email. According to one such email, compromised data may include the last IP address a user logged in from, as well as some credit card information — but not full card numbers, since Twitch doesn't store those.
Programming

A Software Project Full of "Male Anatomy" Jokes Causes Controversy 764

Posted by samzenpus
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along? dept.
An anonymous reader writes with the story of a Github user's joke repository that is causing some controversy. "There's no question that the tech world is an overwhelmingly male place. There's legit concern that tech is run-amok with 'brogrammers' that make women programmers feel unwelcome. On the other hand, people just want to laugh. It's at that intersection that programmer Randy Hunt, aka 'letsgetrandy' posted a 'project' earlier this week to software hosting site GitHub called 'DICSS.' The project, which is actual free and open source software, is surrounded by geeky jokes about the male anatomy. And it's gone nuts, so to speak, becoming the most trending project on Github, and the subject of a lot of chatter on Twitter. And, Hunt tells us, the folks at Github are scratching their heads wondering what they should do about it. Some people love DICSS ... and some people are, understandably, offended. The offended people point out that this is exactly the sort of thing that makes tech unwelcoming to women, and not just because of the original project, but because of some of the comments (posted as "commits") that might take the joke too far."
IBM

A Sucker Is Optimized Every Minute 110

Posted by timothy
from the straight-to-godwin dept.
theodp writes Now that we have hard data on everything, observes the NY Times' Virginia Heffernan in A Sucker Is Optimized Every Minute, we no longer make decisions from our hearts, guts or principles. "The gut is dead," writes Heffernan. "Long live the data, turned out day and night by our myriad computers and smart devices. Not that we trust the data, as we once trusted our guts. Instead, we 'optimize' it. We optimize for it. We optimize with it." To win Presidential elections. To turn web pages into Googlebait. To sucker people into registering for websites. Of the soon-to-arrive Apple Watch, Heffernan notes: "After time keeping, the watch's chief feature is 'fitness tracking': It clocks and stores physiological data with the aim of getting you to observe and change your habits of sloth and gluttony. Evidently I wasn't the only one whose thoughts turned to 20th-century despotism: The entrepreneur Anil Dash quipped on Twitter, albeit stretching the truth, 'Not since I.B.M. sold mainframes to the Nazis has a high-tech company embraced medical data at this scale.'"
Communications

Twitter Adds Tool To Report Tweets To the Police 79

Posted by timothy
from the but-first-this-detour-to-fort-meade dept.
itwbennett writes Twitter is ramping up its efforts to combat harassment with a tool to help users report abusive content to law enforcement. The reports would include the flagged tweet and its URL, the time at which it was sent, the user name and account URL of the person who posted it, as well as a link to Twitter's guidelines on how authorities can request non-public user account information from Twitter. It is left up to the user to forward the report to law enforcement and left up to law enforcement to request the user information from Twitter.
Transportation

Elon Musk Pledges To End "Range Anxiety" For Tesla Model S 286

Posted by Soulskill
from the update-will-burn-out-your-amygdala-with-lasers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Elon Musk has used his Twitter account to announce a press conference on Thursday which he claims will end "range anxiety" for Tesla's Model S sedan. Whatever change they're making will be implemented through an over-the-air software update to the cars, affecting the entire fleet. Range anxiety is the term for a fear that your vehicle won't have enough fuel/charge to reach its destination. It's a common reason for people to avoid buying electric cars, given the much smaller infrastructure build-out compared to gas stations. If Tesla is improving the Model S's range through a software update, then it likely involves optimizations to the battery and to the ways in which power is used. Tesla has also talked about developing a feature called "torque sleep," which puts one of the drive units to sleep while not needed. They say it can wake up and begin delivering torque again "so fast that the driver can't perceive it."
Twitter

Twitter Will Ban Revenge Porn and Non-consensual Nudes 114

Posted by Soulskill
from the be-a-jerk-elsewhere dept.
AmiMoJo writes: Twitter has changed its rules to state it will forbid users from posting revenge porn and non-consensual nudes on its service. In the private information section of the site's policy list, the company added that users "may not post intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject's consent." Twitter seemed to indicate that it would use some combination of automated and manual checks to decide whether a reported post is revenge porn or not before removing the post. "We will ask a reporting user to verify that he or she is the individual in question in content alleged to be violating our policy and to confirm that the photo or video in question was posted without consent." There will be an appeal process too.

In February, reddit made a similar rules change after the site was embroiled in controversy for allowing the posting of stolen nude celebrity photos in 2014. Banning "involuntary pornography," reddit urged victims to e-mail the site with details so administrators could remove the offending posts.
Security

Panda Antivirus Flags Itself As Malware 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the self-fulfilling-prophecy dept.
An anonymous reader writes An update to a number of Panda antivirus programs Wednesday mistakenly flagged core files as malware, putting them in quarantine. In doing so, the antivirus system ceased working. Panda's free antivirus, retail 2015 service, and its enterprise cloud-based antimalware service are all affected. The company took to Twitter to warn users: "Please, don't reboot PCs. We'll keep you posted." In an advisory, Panda said the erroneous signature file was "repaired immediately," but warned under certain conditions it is possible for the "incident to persist."
Communications

Clinton's Private Email System Gets a Security "F" Rating 315

Posted by timothy
from the expected-to-hold-a-media-availability dept.
Penguinisto writes According to a scan by Qualys, Hillary Clinton's personal e-mail server, which has lately generated more than a little controversy in US political circles, has earned an "F" rating for security from the security vendor. Problems include SSL2 support, a weak signature, and only having support for older TLS protocols, among numerous other problems. Note that there are allegations that the email server was possibly already hacked in 2013. (Note: Mrs. Clinton plans on Giving a press conference to the public today on the issue.)
Graphics

Another Upscaled Console Game: Battlefield Hardline 225

Posted by timothy
from the just-extrapolate dept.
jones_supa writes Video game developer Visceral Games has confirmed the actual resolution that the coming Battlefield Hardline will run on when it is launched on the Xbox One and on the PlayStation 4. An official message from the Twitter account of the studio explains that gamers will get a 720p resolution on the Microsoft console and Sony platform gamers will get the game running in 900p. 60 frames per second is promised for both consoles, but many fans are still expressing their disappointment that neither of the two versions will be able to properly deliver the native 1080p resolution of the consoles. When development started, Visceral Games and publisher Electronic Arts said they were aiming to use the power of the modern consoles to push the game engine as far as it would go, but they clearly couldn't fit that target without cutting corners. This is similar to what happened with Titanfall, which renders into an 1408x792 framebuffer on Xbox One.
Social Networks

Former MLB Pitcher Doxes Internet Trolls, Delivers Real-World Consequences 467

Posted by Soulskill
from the countering-free-speech-with-more-free-speech dept.
An anonymous reader writes: When Twitter trolls began posting obscene, sexually explicit comments about his teenage daughter, former MLB pitcher Curt Schilling responded by recording their comments and gathering personal information readily available to the public. He then doxxed two of them on his blog, resulting in one being suspended from his community college and the other being fired from his part-time job as a ticket seller for the New York Yankees. There were seven others in Curt's crosshairs, all college athletes, but although he hasn't publicly doxxed those individuals, he hints, "I found it rather funny at how quickly tone changed when I heard via email from a few athletes who'd been suspended by their coaches. Gone was the tough guy tweeter, replaced by the 'I'm so sorry' apology used by those only sorry because they got caught."
Space

SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches Dual Satellite Mission 23

Posted by samzenpus
from the up-up-and-away dept.
JoeSilva writes SpaceX successfully launched two satellites towards Geosynchronous Orbit. There's already a video of one deployment. Word is the launch went very smoothly and bodes well for their next launch in three weeks, as they work to fulfill what is now a very full launch manifest. In addition Elon had one more thing to share: "Upgrades in the works to allow landing for geo missions: thrust +15%, deep cryo oxygen, upper stage tank vol +10%."
Twitter

ISIS Threatens Life of Twitter Founder After Thousands of Account Suspensions 533

Posted by samzenpus
from the dont-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out dept.
Patrick O'Neill writes After a wave of account bannings that marks Twitter's most aggressive move ever against ISIS, new images circulated from militants shows founder Jack Dorsey in crosshairs with the caption "Twitter, you started this war." The famously tech-savy ISIS has met a number of defeats on American-built social media recently with sites like Twitter and YouTube banning the group's efforts in unprecedented numbers.
Science

Is That Dress White and Gold Or Blue and Black? 420

Posted by timothy
from the enoy-your-lovely-ochre-sky dept.
HughPickens.com writes Color scientists already have a word for it: Dressgate. Now the Washington Post reports that a puzzling thing happened on Thursday night consuming millions — perhaps tens of millions — across the planet and trending on Twitter ahead of even Jihadi John's identification. The problem was this: Roughly three-fourths of people swore that this dress was white and gold, according to BuzzFeed polling but everyone else said it's dress was blue. Others said the dress could actually change colors. So what's going on? According to the NYT our eyes are able to assign fixed colors to objects under widely different lighting conditions. This ability is called color constancy. But the photograph doesn't give many clues about the ambient light in the room. Is the background bright and the dress in shadow? Or is the whole room bright and all the colors are washed out? If you think the dress is in shadow, your brain may remove the blue cast and perceive the dress as being white and gold. If you think the dress is being washed out by bright light, your brain may perceive the dress as a darker blue and black.

According to Beau Lotto, the brain is doing something remarkable and that's why people are so fascinated by this dress. "It's entertaining two realities that are mutually exclusive. It's seeing one reality, but knowing there's another reality. So you're becoming an observer of yourself. You're having tremendous insight into what it is to be human. And that's the basis of imagination." As usual xkcd has the final word.
It would make the comments more informatively scannable if you include your perceived color pair in the title of any comments below.
Twitter

Twitter Adds "Report Dox" Option 101

Posted by timothy
from the better-late-than-never dept.
AmiMoJo writes Twitter announced that its abuse-report system, which was recently refined to simplify and shorten the reporting process, has now expanded to allow users to report content such as self-harm incidents and "the sharing of private and confidential information" (aka doxing). The announcement, posted by Twitter Vice President of User Services Tina Bhatnagar, explained that December's report-process update was met with a "tripling" of the site's abuse support staff, which has led to a quintupling of abuse report processing. Chat logs recently revealed how Twitter is used by small groups to create vast harassment campaigns, thanks to sock puppet account and relative anonymity.
Facebook

Facebook Puts Users On Suicide Watch 187

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-an-eye-on-things dept.
Mark Wilson writes A few months ago Twitter was criticized for teaming up with suicide prevention charity Samaritans to automatically monitor for key words and phrases that could indicate that someone was struggling to cope with life. Despite the privacy concerns that surrounded Samaritans Radar, Facebook has decided that it is going to launch a similar program in a bid to prevent suicides. Working with mental health organizations including Forefront, Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and Save.org, Facebook aims to provide greater help and support for anyone considering suicide or self-harm.