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Opening an Internet time capsule—Internet in a Box for Win95

Ars Technica - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 17:00
How could I refuse?

A few days ago, my wife messaged me a photo from a thrift shop with the question, "You want?" The picture was of a box of software still in shrinkwrap—SPRY Inc.'s Internet in a Box for Windows 95.

The answer was an obvious "OMG YES." I reviewed Internet in a Box back in 1993 when it was first released as an early adopter of independent local Internet dialup (using David Troy's Toad.Net). I spent endless hours connected with the software and my very first laptop PC, pulling down Hubble Telescope images from the Space Telescope Science Institute's Gopher server and raging at Usenet posts. Just the sight of the logo caused a wave of nostalgia to wash over me. It was a simpler time, a somewhat less user-friendly time. CompuServe was still a thing.

This particular box of software was, however, especially endearing. I used version 1.0 for several years before Toad.Net partnered with Covad and ran one of Baltimore's very first DSL connections into my house—allowing me to give up the dual ISDN connection I had for my connection to my employer. This was a bundle designed to bring the masses to the Internet, along with their photos, in 1995. Attached to the box was a Seattle FilmWorks one-use 35mm film camera, emblazoned with the CompuServe logo.

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Report: Cybercrime costs US $12.7M a year

Ars Technica - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 16:05

Cyber attacks on large US companies result in an average of $12.7 million in annual damages, an increase of 9.7 percent from the previous year, according to the fifth Cost of Cybercrime report published by the Ponemon Institute on Wednesday.

The report, sponsored this year by Hewlett Packard’s Enterprise Security division, found that business disruption and information loss account for nearly three-quarters of the cost of cybercrime incidents. The study also confirmed that companies that make security a priority have lower costs associated with security incidents during the year. In particular, companies that use technology that helps flag potential intrusions into critical systems have lower costs, by an average of $2.6 million.

“Business disruption, information loss and the time it takes to detect a breach collectively represented the highest cost to organizations experiencing a breach,” Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, said in a statement.

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Erich Schubert: Google Earth on Linux

Planet Debian - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 15:59
Google Earth for Linux appears to be largely abandoned by Google, unfortunately. The packages available for download cannot be installed on a modern amd64 Debian or Ubuntu system due to dependency issues. In fact, the adm64 version is a 32 bit build, too. The packages are really low quality, the dependencies are outdated, locales support is busted etc. So here are hacky instructions how to install nevertheless. But beware, these instructions are a really bad hack.
  1. These instructions are appropriate for version Do not use them for any other version. Things will have changed.
  2. Make sure your system has i386 architecture enabled. Follow the instructions in section "Configuring architectures" on the Debian MultiArch Wiki page to do so
  3. Install lsb-core, and try to install the i386 versions of these packages, too!
  4. Download the i386 version of the Google Earth package
  5. Install the package by forcing dependencies, via sudo dpkg --force-depends -i google-earth-stable_current_i386.deb
  6. As of now, your package manager will complain, and suggest to remove the package again. To make it happy, we have to hack the installed packages list. This is ugly, and you should make a backup. You can totally bust your system this way... Fortunately, the change we're doing is rather simple. As admin, edit the file /var/lib/dpkg/status. Locate the section Package: google-earth-stable. In this section, delete the line starting with Depends:. Don't add in extra newlines or change anything else!
  7. Now the package manager should believe the dependencies of Google Earth are fulfilled, and no longer suggest removal. But essentially this means you have to take care of them yourself!
Some notes on using Google Earth:
  • Locales are busted. Use LC_NUMERIC=en_US.UTF-8 google-earth to start it. Otherwise, it will fail parsing coordinates, if you are in a locale that uses a different number format.
  • You may need to install the i386 versions of some libraries, in particular of your OpenGL drivers! I cannot provide you with a complete list.
  • Search doesn't work sometimes for me.
  • Occassionally, it reports "unknown" network errors.
  • If you upgrade Nvidia graphics drivers, you will usually have to reboot, or you will see graphics errors.
  • Some people have removed/replaced the bundled libQt* and libfreeimage* libraries, but that did not work for me.

Man sues Comcast, claims ISP got him fired over billing dispute

Ars Technica - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 15:43
Conal O'Rourke remains frustrated and baffled at his year-long saga with Comcast, which resulted in his losing his job. Cyrus Farivar

The California man who publicly accused Comcast of getting him fired from his job at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) after he complained to the highest levels of Comcast about his year’s worth of billing errors, has made good on his threat to sue his former ISP. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in San Francisco late Thursday.

Among other accusations, Conal O’Rourke is suing Comcast on allegations of violating the Cable Communications Act by disclosing his personal information to his employer, defamation, breach of contract, emotional distress, and unfair business practices.

“We don’t normally comment on pending litigation and as we have said, there were clear deficiencies in the customer service that we delivered to Mr. O’Rourke," Jenni Moyer, a Comcast spokesperson, told Ars in a statement.

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Tanguy Ortolo: Trying systemd [ OK ] Switching back to SysV [ OK ]

Planet Debian - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 15:12

Since systemd is now the default init system under Debian Jessie, it got installed to my system and I had a chance to test it. The result is disappointing: it does not work well with cryptsetup, so I am switching back to SysV init and RC.

The problem comes from the fact that I am using encrypted drives with cryptsetup, and while this is correctly integrated with SysV, it just sucks with systemd, where the passphrase prompt is mixed up with service start messages, a bit like that (from memory, since I did not take a picture of my system booting):

Enter passphrase for volume foobar-crypt: [ OK ] Sta*rting serv*ice foo** [ OK ] ***Starting service bar** [ OK ] Starting service baz****

The stars correspond to the letters I type, and as you can see, as the passphrase prompt does not wait for my input, they get everywhere in the boot messages, and there is no clear indication that the passphrase was accepted. This looks like some pathological optimization for boot speed, where even interactive steps are run in parallel with services startup: sorry, but this is just insane.

There may exist ways to work around this issue, but I do not care: SysV init works just fine with no setup at all, and I since have no real need for another init system, systemd as a replacement is only acceptable if it works at least as fine for my setup, which is not the case. Goodbye systemd, come back when you are ready.

Mysterious campaign appears to be latest salvo in net neutrality battle [Updated]

Ars Technica - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 15:00

This piece originally appeared in Pro Publica.

This story has been updated to include a comment from the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

On a recent Monday evening, two bearded young men in skinny jeans came to a parklet in San Francisco's trendy Hayes Valley neighborhood and mounted what looked like an art installation. It was a bright blue, oversized "suggestion box" for the Internet.

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Lucas Nussbaum: Debian Package of the Day revival (quite)

Planet Debian - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 14:05

TL;DR: static version of http://debaday.debian.net/, as it was when it was shut down in 2009, available!

A long time ago, between 2006 and 2009, there was a blog called Debian Package of the Day. About once per week, it featured an article about one of the gems available in the Debian archive: one of those many great packages that you had never heard about.

At some point in November 2009, after 181 articles, the blog was hacked and never brought up again. Last week I retrieved the old database, generated a static version, and put it online with the help of DSA. It is now available again at http://debaday.debian.net/. Some of the articles are clearly outdated, but many of them are about packages that are still available in Debian, and still very relevant today.

Rhonda D'Vine: New Irssi

Planet Debian - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 13:39

After a long time a new irssi upstream release hit the archive. While the most notable change in 0.8.16 was DNSSEC DANE support which is enabled (for linux, src:dnsval has issues to get compiled on kFreeBSD), the most visible change in 0.8.17 was addition of support for both 256 colors and truecolor. While the former can be used directly, for the later you have to explicitly switch the setting colors_ansi_24bit to on. A terminal support it is needed for that though. To test the 256 color support, your terminal has to support it, your TERM environment variable has to be properly set, and you can test it with the newly added /cubes alias. If you have an existing configuration, look at the Testing new Irssi wiki page which helps you get that alias amongst giving other useful tipps, too.

The package currently only lives in unstable, but once it did flow over to testing I will update it in wheezy-backports, too.


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The Seek Thermal Infrared Camera for iPhone and Android

Wired - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 13:30

I think that at some point in the future, smart phones will have a built in infrared camera. But for now, you are going to have to use an IR camera add on. Here's what you can do with the Seek Thermal infrared camera for iPhone and Android.

The post The Seek Thermal Infrared Camera for iPhone and Android appeared first on WIRED.

Petter Reinholdtsen: Debian Jessie, PXE and automatic firmware installation

Planet Debian - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 13:10

When PXE installing laptops with Debian, I often run into the problem that the WiFi card require some firmware to work properly. And it has been a pain to fix this using preseeding in Debian. Normally something more is needed. But thanks to my isenkram package and its recent tasksel extension, it has now become easy to do this using simple preseeding.

The isenkram-cli package provide tasksel tasks which will install firmware for the hardware found in the machine (actually, requested by the kernel modules for the hardware). (It can also install user space programs supporting the hardware detected, but that is not the focus of this story.)

To get this working in the default installation, two preeseding values are needed. First, the isenkram-cli package must be installed into the target chroot (aka the hard drive) before tasksel is executed in the pkgsel step of the debian-installer system. This is done by preseeding the base-installer/includes debconf value to include the isenkram-cli package. The package name is next passed to debootstrap for installation. With the isenkram-cli package in place, tasksel will automatically use the isenkram tasks to detect hardware specific packages for the machine being installed and install them, because isenkram-cli contain tasksel tasks.

Second, one need to enable the non-free APT repository, because most firmware unfortunately is non-free. This is done by preseeding the apt-mirror-setup step. This is unfortunate, but for a lot of hardware it is the only option in Debian.

The end result is two lines needed in your preseeding file to get firmware installed automatically by the installer:

base-installer base-installer/includes string isenkram-cli apt-mirror-setup apt-setup/non-free boolean true

The current version of isenkram-cli in testing/jessie will install both firmware and user space packages when using this method. It also do not work well, so use version 0.15 or later. Installing both firmware and user space packages might give you a bit more than you want, so I decided to split the tasksel task in two, one for firmware and one for user space programs. The firmware task is enabled by default, while the one for user space programs is not. This split is implemented in the package currently in unstable.

If you decide to give this a go, please let me know (via email) how this recipe work for you. :)

So, I bet you are wondering, how can this work. First and foremost, it work because tasksel is modular, and driven by whatever files it find in /usr/lib/tasksel/ and /usr/share/tasksel/. So the isenkram-cli package place two files for tasksel to find. First there is the task description file (/usr/share/tasksel/descs/isenkram.desc):

Task: isenkram-packages Section: hardware Description: Hardware specific packages (autodetected by isenkram) Based on the detected hardware various hardware specific packages are proposed. Test-new-install: show show Relevance: 8 Packages: for-current-hardware Task: isenkram-firmware Section: hardware Description: Hardware specific firmware packages (autodetected by isenkram) Based on the detected hardware various hardware specific firmware packages are proposed. Test-new-install: mark show Relevance: 8 Packages: for-current-hardware-firmware

The key parts are Test-new-install which indicate how the task should be handled and the Packages line referencing to a script in /usr/lib/tasksel/packages/. The scripts use other scripts to get a list of packages to install. The for-current-hardware-firmware script look like this to list relevant firmware for the machine:

#!/bin/sh # PATH=/usr/sbin:$PATH export PATH isenkram-autoinstall-firmware -l

With those two pieces in place, the firmware is installed by tasksel during the normal d-i run. :)

If you want to test what tasksel will install when isenkram-cli is installed, run DEBIAN_PRIORITY=critical tasksel --test --new-install to get the list of packages that tasksel would install.

Debian Edu will be pilots in testing this feature, as isenkram is used there now to install firmware, replacing the earlier scripts.

Google’s product strategy: Make two of everything

Ars Technica - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 13:00

Have you ever heard the expression, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket"? It's a saying that extolls the virtues of diversification—always have a "Plan B." Judging by Google's messy and often-confusing product line, it's something the company takes to heart. Google likes to have multiple, competing products that go after the same user base. That way, if one product doesn't work out, hopefully the other one will.

The most extreme case of this has been Google's instant messaging solutions. At one point there were four different ways to send a text message on Android: Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, Messaging (Android's SMS app), and Google Voice. Google Hangouts came along and eventually merged everything into a single instant messaging platform.

Mercifully, Google has a single, unified instant messaging program now, and all further IM efforts will be poured into this, right? Wrong. A report from The Economic Times of India says that Google is working on a fifth instant messaging program. This one reportedly won't require a Google account and will be aimed at Whatsapp. In KitKat Google removed the stock SMS app and used Hangouts for SMSes, but in Lollipop it is adding back an SMS client, so soon we could potentially be back up to three texting clients. The unified Hangouts update also added a second dialer app to Android, so now there is the main Google Dialer that was introduced in KitKat and a new Hangouts Dialer that makes VOIP calls. Users went from needing IM unity, having it, then chaotically clamoring for dialer unity.

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17 of the Most Influential Architecture Photos of All Time

Wired - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 11:30

“There’s a long and shared history of architecture and photography,” says Elias Redstone, author of a new book dedicated to that love affair.

The post 17 of the Most Influential Architecture Photos of All Time appeared first on WIRED.

Iconoclastic Mapmaker With a Sordid Past Is the Subject of a New Documentary

Wired - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 11:30

Denis Wood is a maker of fascinating maps, and a cartographic iconoclast. He's also a convicted sex offender. These facts create an uncomfortable tension in a new documentary film about Wood's work and life. The 23-minute movie, Unmappable, premiers Oct. 18 at the New Orleans Film Festival.

The post Iconoclastic Mapmaker With a Sordid Past Is the Subject of a New Documentary appeared first on WIRED.

Absurd Creature of the Week: The Wasp That Lays Eggs Inside Caterpillars and Turns Them Into Slaves

Wired - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 11:30

Few parasitoids are more bizarre or disturbing than the wasps of the genus Glyptapanteles, whose females inject their eggs into living caterpillars. Once inside, the larvae mature, feeding on the caterpillar’s body fluids before gnawing through its skin en masse and emerging into the light of day. And despite the trauma, not only does the caterpillar survive---initially at least---but the larvae proceed to mind-control it, turning their host into a bodyguard that protects them as they spin their cocoons and finish maturing. Then, finally, the caterpillar starves to death, but only after the tiny wasps emerge from their cocoons and fly away.

The post Absurd Creature of the Week: The Wasp That Lays Eggs Inside Caterpillars and Turns Them Into Slaves appeared first on WIRED.

Why Evernote Is Selling a Line of Eames-Inspired Desk Accessories

Wired - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 11:30

When Evernote launched Evernote Market last fall, it left a lot of people scratching their heads. What was a company, built around software that’s meant to streamline our lives, doing shilling Evernote-branded socks? Twelve months and $12 million in sales later, we have our answer. “I don’t think anyone outside of our walls expected [that],” […]

The post Why Evernote Is Selling a Line of Eames-Inspired Desk Accessories appeared first on WIRED.

Apple Can’t Say What the iPad Is for, But That’s the Whole Point

Wired - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 11:30

At first, a lot of people didn’t get the iPad. “It’s just a really big iPhone,” the voices said when the Apple tablet made its debut. Some even called it a really big iPod Touch. “The unanswered question is whether we really need a ‘third device’—something to fill the gap between smartphone and laptop,” PCWorld […]

The post Apple Can’t Say What the iPad Is for, But That’s the Whole Point appeared first on WIRED.

Unsettling Medical Photos Explore Our Fascination With the Disgusting

Wired - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 11:30

As a child, Maija Tammi wanted to be a pathologist. She doesn’t remember that childhood dream, but her family does. And though she grew up to be an artist, that early fascination with the body informed and shaped her latest project. The Finnish photographer recently released Leftover/Removals, a collection of stark and clinical images that […]

The post Unsettling Medical Photos Explore Our Fascination With the Disgusting appeared first on WIRED.

Going Global? The Growing Movement to Let Kids Learn Just by Tinkering

Wired - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 11:30

What would happen if you took a stack of tablet computers to a tiny schoolhouse in a remote part of Ghana and asked a group of fifth graders - who have never used a computer or the internet before - to use the mysterious devices to figure out the answer to a few basic questions?

The post Going Global? The Growing Movement to Let Kids Learn Just by Tinkering appeared first on WIRED.

This Guy Takes Awesome Underwater Photos With a Desktop Scanner

Wired - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 11:30

Nathaniel Stern is underwater off the coast of Florida, scanning the view before him. But not just with his eyes; he also has an actual desktop scanner strapped to his scuba-suited body, uploading images to an on-board Windows tablet. A few jellyfish, a bit of coral, the expanse of blue—he scans them all. He isn't capturing these images for science or study, though. He's capturing them for art gallery walls. Stern is a digital artist, and for the past 10 years, this has been his art.

The post This Guy Takes Awesome Underwater Photos With a Desktop Scanner appeared first on WIRED.

A Smartwatch That Projects Buttons Onto Your Skin

Wired - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 11:30

Think of Skin Buttons as a stepping stone for improving outputs for things like notifications or even a projection of the screen itself.

The post A Smartwatch That Projects Buttons Onto Your Skin appeared first on WIRED.

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