Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors With Ukrainian Firmware

Found on Motherboard on Wednesday, 22 March 2017
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Tractor hacking is growing increasingly popular because John Deere and other manufacturers have made it impossible to perform "unauthorized" repair on farm equipment, which farmers see as an attack on their sovereignty and quite possibly an existential threat to their livelihood if their tractor breaks at an inopportune time.

The nightmare scenario, and a fear I heard expressed over and over again in talking with farmers, is that John Deere could remotely shut down a tractor and there wouldn't be anything a farmer could do about it.

A license agreement John Deere required farmers to sign in October forbids nearly all repair and modification to farming equipment, and prevents farmers from suing for "crop loss, lost profits, loss of goodwill, loss of use of equipment … arising from the performance or non-performance of any aspect of the software."

This is how you alienate your customers and force them to look for alternatives.

GitHub now lets its workers keep the IP when they use company resources for personal projects

Found on Quartz on Tuesday, 21 March 2017
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This allows its employees to use company equipment to work on personal projects in their free time, which can occur during work hours, without fear of being sued for the IP.

GitHub’s new agreement doesn’t explicitly state that employees can use company time to develop their own IP, but does say employees can own any work they produce in their “free time.”

Or, you could just not tell your employer what you are working on in your free time, and keep any source outside their control.

'Sorry, I've forgotten my decryption password' is contempt of court, pal – US appeal judges

Found on The Register on Monday, 20 March 2017
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The US Third Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a lower court ruling of contempt against a chap who claimed he couldn't remember the password to decrypt his computer's hard drives.

The Magistrate Judge hearing the initial case, however, did not believe the defendant's claim. The judge "found that Doe remembered the passwords needed to decrypt the hard drives but chose not to reveal them because of the devices' contents."

That makes you wonder if the same rulings would be applied to politicians who tend to "forget" a lot too.

Trump will make America stupid, tweet-rages DeGrasse Tyson

Found on CNet News on Sunday, 19 March 2017
Browse Politics

In a storm of tweets on Sunday, the astrophysicist offered his own grim criticism of Donald Trump's budget. To lighten the mood, he made use of the president's most famous campaign slogan.

"We all want to Make America Great Again. But that won't happen until we first Make America Smart Again," he tweeted.

The mass media cana nd should be blamed for this too since they have been dumbing down people for years with cheap and usless shows for couch potatoes. Panem et circenses at its finest.

Germany’s Flawed Plan to Fight Hate Speech by Fining Tech Giants Millions

Found on Wired on Saturday, 18 March 2017
Browse Politics

Heiko Mass, Germany’s minister of justice and consumer protection, said this week that he will propose a law that would fine social media companies up to €50 million ($53 million) for not responding quickly enough to reports of illegal content or hate speech.

“Google, Facebook, and Twitter are US companies,” says Stefan Heumann, co-director of Stiftung Neue Verantwortung, a Berlin-based think tank focused on technology and public policy. “The rules they set regarding speech reflect US constitutional and cultural values—freedom of speech is treated as nearly an absolute right.”

The Internet does not end at a border; and if Germany can demand content to be taken down it consideres bad, so can Russia or Saudi Arabia.

Firefox Goes PulseAudio Only, Leaves ALSA Users With No Sound

Found on OMG Ubuntu on Friday, 17 March 2017
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Lubuntu 16.04 LTS is one of the distros that use ALSA by default. Lubuntu users who upgraded to Firefox 52 through the regular update channel were, without warning, left with a web browser that plays no sound.

For now only real “solution” to get sound working in Firefox on ALSA systems is to either downgrade to an earlier version of Firefox; switch to Firefox ESR (which still has ALSA support at the time of writing); switch to a different browser entirely (Chromium plays nicely with ALSA) — or suck it up and install PulseAudio.

ChromeClone Firefox has for quite some time now gone the same way the old Netscape did, and it will most likely end up dead too. Mozilla can sink so much money into useless projects, but it cannot invest a few hours to fix the problems it complains about with ALSA? Instead the solution is to just install something else that works around those bugs. Brilliant.

Microsoft’s silence over unprecedented patch delay doesn’t smell right

Found on Ars Technica on Thursday, 16 March 2017
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The move meant that customers had to wait 28 days to receive updates that fixed vulnerabilities that allowed hackers to completely hijack computers and networks.

If protecting customers truly is Microsoft's top priority, company officials should explain exactly why they delayed critical bug fixes for four weeks. Canceling Patch Tuesday at the last minute is a major event that warrants an explanation.

Or they could maybe just split the updates into smaller files, where each one fixes a single vulnerablity. Then they could roll out all the updates which are ok and just hold back those which are buggy. Oh wait, that's so old-school now...

Huge plastic waste footprint revealed

Found on BBCNews on Wednesday, 15 March 2017
Browse Nature

Soft drinks makers admit more needs to be done to stop people discarding single-use plastic bottles.

The biggest brand Coca-Cola is under fire for refusing to disclose how much plastic it produces.

“All plastic bottles are 100% recyclable so it is important that consumers are encouraged to dispose of bottles responsibly."

Obviously customers are not responsible enough, so that plan has failed. A simple alternative is the use of old-fashioned glass bottles: it does less damage.

Google balloon mistaken for UFO as it crashes in Colombia

Found on BBC News on Tuesday, 14 March 2017
Browse Technology

Farmers living in central Tolima province in Colombia say they were terrified when an object they took to be a UFO crashed in a field on Sunday.

X, which was formerly known as Google X, is using the devices to extend internet connectivity to people in rural and remote areas by having the balloons, which travel on the edge of space, relay the signal.

Relax, it's just a weather balloon. Like back then in Roswell.

Vodafone to bring 2,100 customer service jobs in-house

Found on The Register on Monday, 13 March 2017
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At the end of last year, Vodafone was fined a record £4.6m for failing customers for mis-selling to customers, inaccurate billing and poor complaints handling.

Vodafone UK chief executive Nick Jeffery said: "These new, skilled roles will make a real difference to our customers and a real difference to the communities that are the focus of our customer services investment.

Vodafone and service? Two words that just won't fit together.