Treat Computer Science As a Science: It's the Law 182

theodp writes: Last week, President Obama signed into law H.R. 1020, the STEM Education Act of 2015, which expands the definition of STEM to include computer science for the purposes of carrying out education activities at the NSF, DOE, NASA, NOAA, NIST, and the EPA. The Bill was introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Rep. Elizabeth Etsy (D-CT). Smith's February press release linked to letters of support from tech billionaire-backed (whose leadership includes Microsoft President Brad Smith), and the Microsoft-backed STEM Education Coalition (whose leadership includes Microsoft Director of Education Policy Allyson Knox).

How To Enable Cortana On the Xbox One Experience Preview ( 81

MojoKid writes: Part of Microsoft's strategy to unite different devices to a single ecosystem means offering the same services and features across the board. One of those features is Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant, which is available on Windows 10. It will also be available for the Xbox One, though not until sometime next year, at least officially. Don't feel like waiting? You might not have to. Here's a quick and dirty guide on how to unlock Cortana on the Xbox One, provided you're running the latest Xbox One Experience Preview.

Kaspersky Fixes Bug That Allowed Attackers To Block Windows Update & Others ( 33

An anonymous reader writes with this story at Softpedia about Google Project Zero security researcher Tavis Ormandy's latest find. A vulnerability that allowed abuse by attackers was discovered and quickly fixed in the Kaspersky Internet Security antivirus package, one which allowed hackers to spoof traffic and use the antivirus product against the user and itself. Basically, by spoofing a few TCP packets, attackers could have tricked the antivirus into blocking services like Windows Update, Kaspersky's own update servers, or any other IPs which might cripple a computer's defenses, allowing them to carry out further attacks later on.
Open Source

Linux Foundation: Security Problems Threaten 'Golden Age' of Open Source ( 74

Mickeycaskill writes: Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, has outlined the organization's plans to improve open source security. He says failing to do so could threaten a "golden age" which has created billion dollar companies and seen Microsoft, Apple, and others embrace open technologies. Not long ago, the organization launched the Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII), a body backed by 20 major IT firms, and is investing millions of dollars in grants, tools, and other support for open source projects that have been underfunded. This was never move obvious than following the discovery of the Heartbleed Open SSL bug last year. "Almost the entirety of the internet is entirely reliant on open source software," Zemlin said. "We've reached a golden age of open source. Virtually every technology and product and service is created using open source. Heartbleed literally broke the security of the Internet. Over a long period of time, whether we knew it or not, we became dependent on open source for the security and Integrity of the internet."

Firefox Support For NPAPI Plugins Ends Next Year ( 146

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla announced that it will follow the lead of Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge in phasing out support for NPAPI plugins. They expect to have it done by the end of next year. "Plugins are a source of performance problems, crashes, and security incidents for Web users. ... Moreover, since new Firefox platforms do not have to support an existing ecosystem of users and plugins, new platforms such as 64-bit Firefox for Windows will launch without plugin support." Of course, there's an exception: "Because Adobe Flash is still a common part of the Web experience for most users, we will continue to support Flash within Firefox as an exception to the general plugin policy. Mozilla and Adobe will continue to collaborate to bring improvements to the Flash experience on Firefox, including on stability and performance, features and security architecture." There's no exception for Java, though.

Microsoft's Mission To Reignite the PC Sector ( 266 writes: Sales of personal computers have been declining for so long — 14 consecutive quarters — that it's hard remember a time when PCs ruled the tech world. Now Nick Wingfield writes in the NY Times that Microsoft is leading the way on a mission to re-ignite the PC market by taking the once-unthinkable step of competing with its hardware partners. This week, Microsoft dived even further into the business with a laptop device, the Surface Book. The stated reason that Microsoft got into the PC hardware business three years ago, with the original Surface, was not to put PC companies out of business — but to better illustrate the capabilities of its software, providing devices that would inspire PC makers to be more innovative.

One of the most remarkable things about Microsoft's growing presence in the hardware business is that it has not led to open revolt among its partners. Initially, many of them were not happy about Microsoft's moves, complaining in private. "It's positioned as a laptop, very squarely against the MacBook Pro as an example. But that could also be extended to a Dell XPS 13, or an HP x360," says Patrick Moorhead. One reason there hasn't been more pushback from OEMs is that Microsoft's Surface business is still relatively small. Another is that the money Microsoft has poured into marketing Surface has raised the broader profile of Windows PCs. While Microsoft obviously risks alienating its partners, it's doing so with a much bigger fight in mind. "Right now Microsoft really believes that it has to have a combined hardware, software, and services play to go up against the likes of Apple," says Moorhead. "That's why it's doing this. That's why it's taking such an aggressive stance now, moving to laptops."


Microsoft Claims 110M Devices Now Run Windows 10 ( 170

New submitter enterpriseITrocks writes: Computerworld reports that Windows 10 is running on 110 million devices, citing stats provided by Panos Panay, the chief of the Surface team. It's the first time since late August that Microsoft has provided usage stats for Win10 at a time when the new OS was running on 75 million machines. From the article: "Microsoft's 110 million described those running Windows 10, not downloads, the company confirmed. A spokeswoman declined to describe how the company tracks uptake, but presumably it does via Windows 10 activations, which it could easily tally from its logs."

Ask Slashdot: Where Can I Find "Nuts and Bolts" Info On Cookies & Tracking Mechanisms? 84

New submitter tanstaaf1 writes: I was thinking about the whole tracking and privacy train-wreck and I'm wondering why specific information on how it is done, and how it can be micromanaged or undone by a decent programmer (at least), isn't vastly more accessible? By searching, I can only find information on how to erase cookies using the browser. Browser level (black box) solutions aren't anywhere near good enough; if it were, the exploits would be few and far between instead everywhere everyday. Read below for the rest of tanstaaf1's question.
The Almighty Buck

Researchers Unable To Replicate Findings of Published Economics Studies ( 210

An anonymous reader writes: Federal Reserve economists Andrew Chang and Phillip Li looked at 67 papers in 13 reputable academic journals. Their findings were shocking. Without the help of the authors, only a third of the results could be independently replicated. Even with the author's help, only about half, or 49%, could. Business Insider reports: "It's a pretty massive issue for economics, especially given the impact that the subject has on public policy. Li and Chang use a well-known paper by Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff as an example. The study showed a significant growth drop-off once a country's national debts reached 90% of gross domestic product, but three years after being published the study was found to contain a significant Microsoft Excel error that changed the magnitude of the effect." With cancer studies and most recently psychology studies all having replication trouble, these economics papers have some company.

Europe Code Week 2015: Cocktails At Microsoft, 'Ode To Code' Robot Dancing 15

theodp writes: In case your invite to next week's Europe Code Week 2015 kickoff celebration at the Microsoft Centre in Brussels was lost in the e-mail, you can apparently still invite yourself. "Let's meet to celebrate coding as an empowering competence, key for maintaining our society vibrant and securing the prosperity of our European digital economy," reads the invite at the Microsoft and Facebook-powered All you Need is Code website. And to "keep raising awareness of the importance of computational thinking beyond Code Week," EU Code Week is also running an Ode to Code Video Contest, asking people to make short YouTube videos showing how the event's Ode to Code soundtrack causes uncontrollable robot dancing (video) and flash mobs (video). Things sure have changed since thirty years ago, when schoolchildren were provided with materials like The BASIC Book to foster computational thinking!

Windows Phone Store Increasingly Targeted With Fake Mobile Apps 90

An anonymous reader writes: A post by security company Avast says not only are a large amount of fake apps available from the third-party marketplace of the Windows Phone Store, but they also remain available for quite a while despite negative comments and other flags from end-users. Avast speculates that improved security and auditing procedures at rival stores such as Google Play account for the increasing attention that fake app-publishers are giving to the Windows phone app market.
Open Source

Matthew Garrett Forks the Linux Kernel 688

jones_supa writes: Just like Sarah Sharp, Linux developer Matthew Garrett has gotten fed up with the unprofessional development culture surrounding the kernel. "I remember having to deal with interminable arguments over the naming of an interface because Linus has an undying hatred of BSD securelevel, or having my name forever associated with the deepthroating of Microsoft because Linus couldn't be bothered asking questions about the reasoning behind a design before trashing it," Garrett writes. He has chosen to go his own way, and has forked the Linux kernel and added patches that implement a BSD-style securelevel interface. Over time it is expected to pick up some of the power management code that Garrett is working on, and we shall see where it goes from there.

From Microsoft, HoloLens VR Dev Kit, New Phones, Continuum 88

Ars Technica and scads of other tech hardware sites are reporting that the big news so far from this morning's Microsoft product launch event in New York is that the company's Hololens development kit will begin shipping in the first quarter of next year, and at a price that puts the units out of the hands of typical consumers: $3000. At that level, developers are more likely to make the plunge, which Ars applauds.

The company also announced three new smartphones: two of them, the Lumia 950, 950XL, are worth designating "flagships," while the 550, notably, will sell for $139, putting it in the territory of cheap grey-market Android phones. More interesting than spec bumps, though, is Continuum for Windows, a Window 10 feature which made its official debut at the event. Continuum is one manifestation of the pocket-computer idea that others have had as well in various forms: it means that with an adapter, a phone can be used as the CPU and graphics engine when connected to a screen and keyboard: "The adapter features a Microsoft Display Dock, an HDMI and Display Port, plus 3 USB ports to provide productivity on the go and let you plug in additional peripherals, such as mice and keyboards. Other accessories can be connected too, Microsoft said."

Microsoft also demo'd the Surface 4. Its improved screen is 12.3" at 2160x1440, for a pixel density of 267 PPI. The new pro has a Skylake 6th-gen processor, which they say provides a 30% performance boost over the Surface Pro 3, and a 50% boost over the MacBook Air. The SP4 goes up to 1TB of storage, and up to 16GB of RAM. The Type Cover was improved as well — the touchpad is 40% larger and supports 5-point multi-touch, while the keys have better travel and pitch.

On top of this, Microsoft also unveiled the Surface Book laptop. Its defining feature is that you can unclip the 13.5" touchscreen and use it separately as a tablet. The keyboard dock has a dedicated GPU that will boost performance when attached. Microsoft is using a new type of hinge that bends and extends at multiple points, so you can also reattach the screen backward if you want to use it as a tablet while keeping the extra GPU power available. They claim a 12-hour battery life for the Surface Book.

Software Defined Smart Battery Arrays Extend Laptop Life 42

An anonymous reader writes: A Microsoft research paper, titled 'Software Defined Batteries', outlines a radical charging alternative which uses a smart battery system to keep consumer-grade gadgets going for much longer than the current norm, by monitoring user habits. Making use of existing technologies, the engineers place multiple battery control under the duties of the operating system to create a software-defined approach optimized for different scenarios, such as word processing, email or video streaming.

CodeWeavers To Release CrossOver For Android To Run Windows Programs 66

An anonymous reader writes: For the better part of three years there has been talk about running Wine on Android to bring Windows x86 programs to Android phones/tablets, and it's going to become a reality. CodeWeavers is planning to release CrossOver For Android before the end of the year. This will allow native Windows binaries to run on Android, but will be limited to Android-x86 due to struggles in emulating x86 Windows code on ARM. The tech preview will be free and once published the open-source patches will be published for Wine.

Office 2016 Proving Unstable With Apple's El Capitan 138

An anonymous reader writes: Users of Microsoft Office on the Mac are reporting widespread instabilities and conflicts after upgrading to the latest version of the Apple desktop operating system, El Capitan. The first indications that El Capitan and Office 2016 were not working well together came in a now epic thread at Microsoft Community. Many users have surmised that new restrictions in file permissions in El Capitan caused the problems initially, though nearly all agree that Office's Outlook email client is the critical point of failure in the current round of application crashes and loss of functionality.

Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 Is Shipping 94

jones_supa writes: Microsoft's mail and calendar server package Exchange Server 2016 is being refreshed and is now out of preview, along with the 2016 revamp for other Office products. The new Exchange tries to simplify the software's architecture while still adding new features and working better with other Office products. You can now use links from Sharepoint 2016 and OneDrive for Business as email attachments, instead of having to upload the actual file, leading to more robust file sharing and editing. Add-ins have been introduced, which allows extensibility similar to extensions on a web browser. Microsoft is providing a 180-day trial for free.

Google and Microsoft Agree To Stand Down In Patent Wars 43

_0x783czar writes: Today Google and Microsoft have announced an end to litigious hostilities between themselves; signaling another step on the road to peace as the "global smartphone wars" wind down. This moves settles 18 lawsuits in the U.S. and Germany, including those involving Motorola Mobility's patents, which Google retained after selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo. Both companies hope this move will help settle the smartphone wars and refocus their efforts on consumers. Reuters reports: "Google and Microsoft have agreed to collaborate on certain patent matters and anticipate working together in other areas in the future to benefit our customers."