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Comcast Xfinity Wi-Fi Discloses Customer Names and Addresses ( 47

itwbennett writes: Despite assurances that only business listings and not customer names and home addresses would appear in the public search results when someone searches for an Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspot, that is exactly what's happened when the service was initiated 2 years ago — and is still happening now, writes CSO's Steve Ragan. And that isn't the only security issue with the service. Another level of exposure centers on accountability. Ken Smith, senior security architect with K Logix in Brookline, Ma., discovered that Comcast is relying on the device's MAC address as a key component of authentication.

Python Is On the Rise, While PHP Falls ( 232

Nerval's Lobster writes: While this month's lists of the top programming languages uniformly put Java in the top spot, that's not the only detail of interest to developers. Which language has gained the most users over the past five years? And which are tottering on the edge of obsolescence? According to PYPL, which pulls its raw data for analysis from Google Trends, Python has grown the most over the past five years—up 5 percent since roughly 2010. Over the same period, PHP also declined by 5 percent. Since PYPL looks at how often language tutorials are searched on Google, its data is a good indicator of how many developers are (or aren't) learning a language, presumably because they see it as valuable to their careers. Just because PYPL shows PHP losing market-share over the long term doesn't mean that language is in danger of imminent collapse; over the past year or so, the PHP community has concentrated on making the language more pleasant to use, whether by improving features such as package management, or boosting overall performance. Plus, PHP is still used on hundreds of millions of websites, according to data from Netcraft. Indeed, if there's any language on these analysts' lists that risks doom, it's Objective-C, the primary language used for programming iOS and Mac OS X apps, and its growing obsolescence is by design.

Tim Cook: Apple Won't Create 'Converged' MacBook and iPad ( 337

LichtSpektren writes: In an interview with, Apple CEO Tim Cook has stated that Apple is currently not looking to create an iPad that runs Mac OS X. "We feel strongly that customers are not really looking for a converged Mac and iPad, because what that would wind up doing, or what we're worried would happen, is that neither experience would be as good as the customer wants. So we want to make the best tablet in the world and the best Mac in the world. And putting those two together would not achieve either. You'd begin to compromise in different ways." Cook also commented that he does not travel with a Mac anymore, only his iPad Pro and iPhone.

Mac App Store Apps 'Damaged' Following Security Certificate Bug ( 66

An anonymous reader writes: A slew of complaints are emerging against Apple after users were forced to delete and re-install Mac App Store apps in the wake of a major security management error. The problem manifested with the apparent expiry of security certificates which validated the apps, but even after the certificates were updated yesterday to expire in 2035, the problems were not resolved; some users were unable to verify the new certificates, and others could not even connect to the internet. In some cases the programs had to be reinstalled from scratch, deleting the user's existing settings.

Proof-of-Concept Ransomware Affects Macs ( 163

sarahnaomi writes: Ransomware, the devilish family of malware that locks down a victim's files until he or she coughs up a hefty bounty, may soon be coming to Mac. Last week, a Brazilian security researcher produced a proof-of-concept for what appears to be the first ransomware to target Mac operating systems (Mac OS X). On Monday, cybersecurity company Symantec verified the researcher's findings. "Mabouia is the first case of file-based crypto ransomware for OS X, albeit a proof-of-concept," Symantec wrote in a blog post. "It's simple code, I did it in two days," [said] the creator of the malware.

First Remote-Access Trojan That Can Target Android, Linux, Mac and Windows 63

An anonymous reader writes: Hackers have put on sale OmniRAT, a remote access trojan that can target Androids, Linux, Mac, and Windows PCs. The tool costs $25-$50, which is only a fraction of $200-$300,the price of DroidJack, another Android RAT. Avast is currently reporting that the RAT was used this summer in Germany, spread to victims via SMS messages. The Softpedia article about OmniRAT includes a video, but declined to post the tool's homepage. You can easily find it via a Google search.

Firefox 42 Arrives With Tracking Protection, Tab Audio Indicators 134

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today launched Firefox 42 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Notable additions to the browser include tracking protection, tab audio indicators, and background link opening on Android. The new private browsing mode goes further than just not saving your browsing history (read: porn sites) — the added tracking protection means Firefox also blocks website elements (ads, analytics trackers, and social share buttons) that could track you while you're surfing the web, and it works on all four platforms. The feature is almost like a built-in ad blocker, though it's really closer to browser add-ons like Ghostery and Privacy Badger because ads that don't track you are allowed through.

Apple Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over iOS Wi-Fi Assist ( 212

An anonymous reader writes: A class-action suit has been filed against Apple in U.S. District Court over Wi-Fi Assist being turned on by default in iOS 9. Wi-Fi Assist is designed to switch to cellular data when a user is trying to perform an action over the internet on a poor Wi-Fi signal. This has the natural side effect of using cellular data. Since iOS 9 turned it on for many users, they weren't necessarily expecting that extra use, causing some of them to exceed their data caps. A former Apple employee who was in a leadership position for Mac OS X Wi-Fi software has commented on the issue, saying that the Wi-Fi Assist mess was unavoidable given how Apple's management treats that part of the business.

Quoting :"[O]ne particular directorial edict which I pushed back against at the end of my tenure sticks out as not just particularly telling, but deeply misguided: 'Make it self-healing.' Self healing in this context meaning that the networking system, Wi-Fi in particular, should try to correct problems that caused the network to fail, which, if you have spent any time trying to diagnose networking issues is a clear misunderstanding of the issues involved. ... Asking the devices which connect to this vast complex network of networks to detect, and then transparently fix problems in the infrastructure without the permission of the administrators is, well, it's absolutely the pinnacle of buzzword driven product management. Real pointy-haired boss territory."


Google Is Removing the Desktop Notification Center From Chrome ( 116

An anonymous reader writes: Google today announced it is removing the notification center from Chrome for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The reason the company is giving for the change is simple: "In practice, few users visit the notification center." The notification center in Chrome OS will remain. Google said this change will take effect for Windows, Mac, and Linux users "in the upcoming release." To be clear, this is not in reference to yesterday's Chrome 46 launchthe notification center is still there. We thus expect that the notification center will thus be removed in Chrome 47, which is slated to arrive in about six weeks.

Objective-C Use Falls Hard, Apple's Swift On the Rise ( 161

Nerval's Lobster writes: When Apple rolled out Swift last summer, it expected its new programming language to eventually replace Objective-C, which developers have used for years to build iOS and Mac OS X apps. Thanks to Apple's huge developer ecosystem (and equally massive footprint in the world of consumer devices), Swift quickly became one of the most buzzed-about programming languages, as cited by sites such as Stack Overflow. And now, according to new data from TIOBE Software, which keeps a regularly updated index of popular programming languages, Swift might be seriously cannibalizing Objective-C. On TIOBE's latest index, Objective-C is ranked fourteenth among programming languages, a considerable drop from its third-place spot in October 2014. Swift managed to climb from nineteenth to fifteenth during the same period. "Soon after Apple announced to switch from Objective-C to Swift, Objective-C went into free fall," read TIOBE's text accompanying the data. "This month Objective-C dropped out of the TIOBE index top 10." How soon until Swift eclipses Objective-C entirely?

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.

New Attack Bypasses Mac OS X Gatekeeper 66

msm1267 writes: Mac OS X's Gatekeeper security service is supposed to protect Apple computers from executing code that's not signed by Apple or downloaded from its App Store. A researcher, however, has built an exploit that uses a signed binary to execute malicious code. Patrick Wardle, a longtime Apple hacker, said Gatekeeper performs only an initial check on an application to determine whether it came from an untrusted source and should not be executed. Using a signed binary that passes the initial check and then loads a malicious library or app from the same or relative directory, however, will get an advanced attacker onto an OS X machine. Wardle disclosed his research and proof of concept to Apple, which said it is working on a patch, and may push out a short-term mitigation in the meantime.

Recalc Or Die: Excel 1.0 Developers Celebrate Their Baby's 30th Birthday 119

theodp writes: This weekend, reports GeekWire, many of the original Excel team members are getting together to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the software's release. "We certainly ripped some stuff off," acknowledged Microsoft Excel 1.0 lead developer Doug Klunder, "but we also did some things that nobody else had done at the time and probably hasn't done since — some of which are really insane, and some of which turn out to be pretty handy." Klunder, who was responsible for Excel's killer "intelligent recalc" feature, quit his job after Bill Gates decided to shift the original Excel project from MS-DOS to the Mac, but ended up coming back and finishing the project after an ill-fated stint as a farm worker in the lettuce fields of California. "Just imagine having this product where one of the key components of it is really only understood by this guy who will quit routinely and go be a migrant farm worker down in California," said Excel 1.0 program manager Jabe Blumenthal. "It was not necessarily the most traditional or stable of environments." Many of the original Excel team members still use the program today — the RSVP sheet for this weekend's party was an Excel Online document. Before a professional naming firm came up with "Excel," the software was known by its code name "Odyssey", and other product names considered by Microsoft included "Master Plan" and "Mr. Spreadsheet." By the way, "Mr. Spreadsheet" makes his MOOC debut next week in edX's free-to-audit Excel for Data Analysis and Visualization course.

Proposed MAC Sniffing Dongle Intended To Help Recover Stolen Electronics 120

An anonymous reader writes to say that an Iowa City police officer is developing a new concept to help police find more stolen property. The Gazette has a short report that officer David Schwindt, inspired by a forensics class, is working on L8NT, a specialized wireless dongle to help police officers locate stolen electronics (any of them with wireless capabilities and a MAC address, at least) by scanning for MAC addresses associated with stolen goods. The idea is to have police scan as they drive for these MAC entries, and match them against a database. The article notes a few shortcomings in this concept, but does not point out an even bigger one: MAC addresses are usually mutable, anyhow, in a way that's not as obvious as an obscured serial number, and thieves could refine their business model by automating the change.

"Extremely Critical" OS X Keychain Vulnerability Steals Passwords Via SMS 123

Mark Wilson writes: Two security researchers have discovered a serious vulnerability in OS X that could allow an attacker to steal passwords and other credentials in an almost invisible way. Antoine Vincent Jebara and Raja Rahbani — two of the team behind the myki identity management security software — found that a series of terminal commands can be used to extract a range of stored credentials. What is particularly worrying about the vulnerability is that it requires virtually no interaction from the victim; simulated mouse clicks can be used to click on hidden buttons to grant permission to access the keychain. Apple has been informed of the issue, but a fix is yet to be issued. The attack, known as brokenchain, is disturbingly easy to execute. Ars reports that this weakness has been exploited for four years.

Chrome 45 Launches, Automatically Pauses Less Important Flash Content, Like Ads 92

An anonymous reader writes: Google today launched Chrome 45 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android with some expected changes and new developer tools. First and foremost, Chrome now automatically pauses less important Flash content (rolling out gradually, so be patient). This has been a longtime coming from both Google and Adobe, with the goal to make Flash content more power-efficient in Chrome: In March, a setting was introduced to play less Flash content on the page, but it wasn't turned on by default, and in June, the option was enabled in the browser's beta channel. Now it's being turned on for everyone.

The Long Reach of Windows 95 354

jfruh writes: I'm a Mac guy — have been ever since the '80s. When Windows 95 was released 20 years ago, I was among those who sneered that "Windows 95 is Macintosh 87." But now, as I type these words on a shiny new iMac, I can admit that my UI — and indeed the computing landscape in general — owes a lot to Windows 95, the most influential operating system that ever got no respect. ITWorld reports: "... even though many techies tend to dismiss UI innovation as eye candy, the fact is that the changes made in Windows 95 were incredibly successful in making the the system more accessible to users -- so successful, in fact, that a surprising number of them have endured and even spread to other operating systems. We still live in the world Windows 95 made. When I asked people on Twitter their thoughts about what aspects of Windows 95 have persisted, I think Aaron Webb said it best: 'All of it? Put a 15 year old in front of 3.1 and they would be lost. In front of Windows 95 they would be able to do any task quickly.'"

A FreeBSD "Spork" With Touches of NeXT and OS X: NeXTBSD 165

There are a lot of open source operating systems out there; being open source, they lend themselves to forks, clones or near clones, and friendly offshoots. There are even services to let you customize, download, and (if you choose) bulk-install your own OS based on common components. Phoronix notes a new project called NeXTBSD that might turn more heads than most new open source OSes, in part because of the developers behind it, and in part because of the positive thoughts many people have toward the aesthetics of NeXTSTEP and Mac OS X. (And while it might be a fork of FreeBSD, the developers would rather call it a spork, instead.) NeXTBSD was announced last week by Jordan Hubbard and Kip Macy at the Bay Area FreeBSD Users Group (BAFUG). NeXTBSD / FreeBSD X is based on the FreeBSD-CURRENT kernel while adding in Mach IPC, Libdispatch, notifyd, asld, launchd, and other components derived from Apple's open-source code for OS X. The basic launchd/notifyd/asld/libdispatch stack atop their "fork" of FreeBSD is working along with other basic components of their new design. You can watch a recording of the announcement as well as a longer introduction linked from Phoronix's story.

In Praise of the Solo Programmer 114 writes: Jean-Louis Gassée writes that once upon a time, we were awestruck by the solo programmer who could single-handedly write a magnum opus on a barebones machine like the Apple ][ with its 64 kilobytes of memory and an 8-bit processor running at 1MHz. Once such giant was Paul Lutus, known as the Oregon Hermit, who won a place next to Jobs and Wozniak in the Bandley Drive Hall of Fame for his Apple Writer word processor. "Those were the days Computers and their operating systems were simple and the P in Personal Computers applied to the programmer," writes Gassée. "There's no place for a 2015 Paul Lutus. But are things really that dire?"

As it turns out, the size and complexity of operating systems and development tools do not pose completely insurmountable obstacles; There are still programs of hefty import authored by one person. One such example is Preview, Mac's all-in-one file viewing and editing program. The many superpowers of Apple's Preview does justice to the app's power and flexibility authored by a solo, unnamed programmer who has been at it since the NeXT days. Newer than Preview but no less ambitious, is Gus Mueller's Acorn, an "Image Editor for Humans", now in version 5 at the Mac App Store. Mueller calls his Everett, WA company a mom and pop shop because his spouse Kristin does the documentation when she isn't working as a Physical Therapist. Gus recently released Acorn 5 fixing hundreds of minor bugs and annoyances. "It took months and months of work, it was super boring and mind numbing and it was really hard to justify, and it made Acorn 5 super late," writes Mueller. "But we did it anyway, because something in us felt that software quality has been going downhill in general, and we sure as heck weren't going to let that happen to Acorn."
Desktops (Apple)

Could the Best Windows 10 Laptop Be a Mac? 435

dkatana writes: Now that Windows 10 is finally out there many people are looking for the best laptop with the power to make the new OS shine. The sweet spot appears to be in $900-$1500 machines from Dell, Asus and HP. But Apple, the company that has been fighting Windows for ever, has other options for Windows 10: the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. According to InformationWeek there are many reasons to consider purchasing a MacBook as the next Windows machine, including design, reliability, performance, battery life, display quality and better keyboard. Also MacBooks have a higher resell value, retaining up to 50% of their price after five years.