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Rumor: Lenovo In Talks To Buy BlackBerry - Tue Oct 21 00:43:02 2014

BarbaraHudson writes: The CBC, the Financial Post, and The Toronto Sun are all reporting a possible sale of BlackBerry to Lenovo. From the Sun: "BlackBerry shares rose more than 3% on Monday after a news website said Chinese computer maker Lenovo Group might offer to buy the Canadian technology company. Rumors of a Lenovo bid for BlackBerry have swirled many times over the last two years. Senior Lenovo executives at different times have indicated an interest in BlackBerry as a means to strengthen their own handset business. The speculation reached a crescendo in the fall of 2013, when BlackBerry was exploring strategic alternatives. Sources familiar with the situation however, told Reuters last year that the Canadian government had strongly hinted to BlackBerry that any sale to Lenovo would not win the necessary regulatory approvals due to security concerns. Analysts also have said any sale to Lenovo would face regulatory obstacles, but they have suggested that a sale of just BlackBerry's handset business and not its core network infrastructure might just pass muster with regulators."


Which Android Devices Sacrifice Battery-Life For Performance? - Mon Oct 20 23:58:01 2014

MojoKid writes: A couple of weeks ago, Futuremark began handing out copies of PCMark for Android to members of the press, in an effort to get its leaderboards filled while the finishing touches were being put on the app. That might give you pause in that the results, generated today, are not going to be entirely accurate when the final version comes out, but that's not the case. Futuremark has encouraged publication of results generated with the benchmark. What makes PCMark for Android useful benchmark is that it not only tests for performance, but also for battery-life and performance combined. As such, you can easily figure out which devices sacrifice battery-life for performance and which ones have a good blend of both. The HTC One M8 really stands out, thanks to its nearly balanced performance/battery-life ratio. A result like that might make you think that neither value could be that great, but that's not the case at all. In fact, the battery-life rating on that phone places far beyond some of the other models, only falling short to the OnePlus One. And speaking of that phone, it becomes obvious with PCMark why it's so hyped-up of late; it not only delivers solid performance, it boasts great battery-life as well.


China Staging a Nationwide Attack On iCloud and Microsoft Accounts - Mon Oct 20 23:14:44 2014

New submitter DemonOnIce writes: According to The Verge and original report the site that monitor's China's Great Firewall activity, China is conducting a large-scale attack on iCloud and Microsoft accounts using its government firewall software. Chinese users may be facing an unpleasant surprise as they are directed to a dummy site designed to like an Apple login page (or a Microsoft one, as appropriate).


GNU Emacs 24.4 Released Today - Mon Oct 20 22:32:56 2014

New submitter Shade writes Well over one and a half years in the works, the latest and greatest release of GNU Emacs was made officially available today. Highlights of this release include a built-in web browser, improved multi-monitor and fullscreen support, "electric" indentation enabled by default, support for saving and restoring the state of frames and windows, pixel-based resizing for frames and windows, support for digitally signed ELisp packages, support for menus in text terminals, and much more. Read the official announcement and the full list of changes for more information.


More Eye Candy Coming To Windows 10 - Mon Oct 20 21:50:27 2014

jones_supa writes Microsoft is expected to release a new build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview in the very near future, according to their own words. The only build so far to be released to the public is 9841 but the next iteration will likely be in the 9860 class of releases. With this new build, Microsoft has polished up the animations that give the OS a more comprehensive feel. When you open a new window, it flies out on to the screen from the icon and when you minimize it, it collapses back in to the icon on the taskbar. It is a slick animation and if you have used OS X, it is similar to the one used to collapse windows back in to the dock. Bah.


Help ESR Stamp Out CVS and SVN In Our Lifetime - Mon Oct 20 21:28:01 2014

mtaht writes ESR is collecting specifications and donations towards getting a new high end machine to be used for massive CVS and SVN repository conversions, after encountering problems with converting the whole of netbsd over to git. What he's doing now sort of reminds me of holding a bake sale to build a bomber, but he's well on his way towards Xeon class or higher for the work. What else can be done to speed up adoption of git and preserve all the computer history kept in source code repositories? ESR says he'll match funds toward the purchase of the needed hardware, so if you want to help drive him into bankruptcy, now's your chance.


NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew - Mon Oct 20 20:38:01 2014

globaljustin writes "Alan Drysdale, a systems analyst in advanced life support and a contractor with NASA concluded, "Small women haven't been demonstrated to be appreciably dumber than big women or big men, so there's no reason to choose larger people for a flight crew when it's brain power you want," says Drysdale. "The logical thing to do is to fly small women." Kate Greene, who wrote the linked article, took part in the first HI-SEAS experiment in Martian-style living, and has some compelling reasons for an all-women crew, energy efficiency chief among them: Week in and week out, the three female crew members expended less than half the calories of the three male crew members. Less than half! We were all exercising roughly the same amount—at least 45 minutes a day for five consecutive days a week—but our metabolic furnaces were calibrated in radically different ways. During one week, the most metabolically active male burned an average of 3,450 calories per day, while the least metabolically active female expended 1,475 calories per day. It was rare for a woman on crew to burn 2,000 calories in a day and common for male crew members to exceed 3,000. ... The calorie requirements of an astronaut matter significantly when planning a mission. The more food a person needs to maintain her weight on a long space journey, the more food should launch with her. The more food launched, the heavier the payload. The heavier the payload, the more fuel required to blast it into orbit and beyond. The more fuel required, the heavier the rocket becomes, which it in turn requires more fuel to launch.


Debian's Systemd Adoption Inspires Threat of Fork - Mon Oct 20 19:53:04 2014

New submitter Tsolias writes It appears that systemd is still a hot topic in the Debian community. As seen earlier today, there is a new movement shaping up against the adoption of systemd for the upcoming stable release [of Debian], Jessie. They claim that "systemd betrays the UNIX philosophy"; it makes things more complex, thus breaking the "do one thing and do it well" principle. Note that the linked Debian Fork page specificaly says that the anonymous developers behind it support a proposal to preserve options in init systems, rather than demanding the removal of systemd, and are not opposed to change per se. They just don't want other parts of the system to be wholly dependent on systemd. "We contemplate adopting more recent alternatives to sysvinit, but not those undermining the basic design principles of "do one thing and do it well" with a complex collection of dozens of tightly coupled binaries and opaque logs."


Manga Images Depicting Children Lead to Conviction in UK - Mon Oct 20 19:10:48 2014

An anonymous reader writes with this news from the UK, as reported by Ars Technica: A 39-year-old UK man has been convicted of possessing illegal cartoon drawings of young girls exposing themselves in school uniforms and engaging in sex acts. The case is believed to be the UK's first prosecution of illegal manga and anime images. Local media said that Robul Hoque was sentenced last week to nine months' imprisonment, though the sentence is suspended so long as the defendant does not break the law again. Police seized Hoque's computer in 2012 and said they found nearly 400 such images on it, none of which depicted real people but were illegal nonetheless because of their similarity to child pornography. Hoque was initially charged with 20 counts of illegal possession but eventually pled guilty to just 10 counts.


'Endrun' Networks: Help In Danger Zones - Mon Oct 20 18:28:48 2014

kierny writes Drawing on networking protocols designed to support NASA's interplanetary missions, two information security researchers have created a networking system that's designed to transmit information securely and reliably in even the worst conditions. Dubbed Endrun, and debuted at Black Hat Europe, its creators hope the delay-tolerant and disruption-tolerant system — which runs on Raspberry Pi — could be deployed everywhere from Ebola hot zones in Liberia, to war zones in Syria, to demonstrations in Ferguson.


Barometers In iPhones Mean More Crowdsourcing In Weather Forecasts - Mon Oct 20 17:47:14 2014

cryptoz (878581) writes Apple is now adding barometers to its mobile devices: both new iPhones have valuable atmospheric pressure sensors being used for HealthKit (step counting). Since many Android devices have been carrying barometers for years, scientists like Cliff Mass have been using the sensor data to improve weather forecasts. Open source data collection projects like PressureNet on Android automatically collect and send the atmospheric sensor data to researchers.


Developers, IT Still Racking Up (Mostly) High Salaries - Mon Oct 20 16:24:22 2014

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes Software development and IT remain common jobs among those in the higher brackets, although not the topmost one, according to a new study (with graph) commissioned by NPR. Among those earning between $58,000 and $72,000, IT was the sixth-most-popular job, while software developers came in tenth place. In the next bracket up (earning between $72,000 and $103,000), IT rose to third, with software development just behind in fourth place. As incomes increased another level ($103,000 to $207,000), software developers did even better, coming in second behind managers, although IT dropped off the list entirely. In the top percentile ($207,000 and above), neither software developers nor IT staff managed to place; this is a segment chiefly occupied by physicians (in first place), managers, chief executives, lawyers, and salespeople who are really good at their jobs. In other words, it seems like a good time to be in IT, provided you have a particular skillset. If those high salaries are in Silicon Valley or New York, though, they might not seem as high as half the same rate would in Omaha, or Houston, or Raleigh.


Google Changes 'To Fight Piracy' By Highlighting Legal Sites - Mon Oct 20 15:40:34 2014

mrspoonsi writes Google has announced changes to its search engine in an attempt to curb online piracy. The company has long been criticised for enabling people to find sites to download entertainment illegally. The entertainment industry has argued that illegal sites should be "demoted" in search results. The new measures, mostly welcomed by music trade group the BPI, will instead point users towards legal alternatives such as Spotify and Google Play. Google will now list these legal services in a box at the top of the search results, as well as in a box on the right-hand side of the page. Crucially, however, these will be adverts — meaning if legal sites want to appear there, they will need to pay Google for the placement.


How Lobby Groups Rejected the Canadian Government's Plan To Combat Patent Trolls - Mon Oct 20 14:57:08 2014

An anonymous reader writes Michael Geist reports that according to documents recently obtained under the Access to Information Act, the Canadian government quietly proposed a series of reforms to combat patent trolls including new prohibitions on demand letters, powers to the courts to stop patent forum shopping, and giving competition authorities the ability to deal with patent troll anti-competitive activity. The problem? Business lobby groups warned against the "unintended consequences" of patent reforms.


Ubuntu Turns 10 - Mon Oct 20 14:14:47 2014

Scott James Remnant, now Technical Lead on ChromeOS, was a Debian developer before that. That's how he became involved from the beginning (becoming Developer Manager, and then serving on the Technical Board) on the little derivative distribution that Mark Shuttleworth decided to make of Debian Unstable, and for which the name Ubuntu was eventually chosen. On this date in 2004, Ubuntu 4.10 -- aka Warty Warthog, or just Warty -- was released, and Remnant has shared a detailed, nostalgic look back at the early days of the project that has (whatever else you think of it ) become one of the most influential in the world of open source and Free software. I was excited that Canonical sent out disks that I could pass around to friends and family that looked acceptably polished to them in a way that Sharpie-marked Knoppix CD-ROMs didn't, and that the polish extended to the installer, the desktop, and the included constellation of software, too.


Microsoft Gearing Up To Release a Smartwatch of Its Own - Mon Oct 20 13:42:31 2014

SmartAboutThings writes The smartwatch market is still in its nascent form, but with Apple releasing its AppleWatch in early 2015, things are going to change. And Microsoft wants to make sure it's not late to the party, as it has been so many times in the past. That's why it plans on releasing its own smartwatch , which would be the first new category under CEO Nadella. The device could get launched with two specific features that could make it stand apart from other similar devices — much better battery life and cross-platform support for iOS and Android users. A release before this year's holiday season is in the cards, with no details on the pricing nor availability. (Also at Reuters and The Inquirer.)


IBM Pays GlobalFoundries $1.5 Billion To Shed Its Chip Division - Mon Oct 20 12:57:25 2014

helix2301 writes with word that Big Blue has become slightly smaller: IBM will pay $1.5 billion to GlobalFoundries in order to shed its costly chip division. IBM will make payments to the chipmaker over three years, but it took a $4.7 billion charge for the third quarter when it reported earnings Monday. The company fell short of Wall Street profit expectations and revenue slid 4 percent, sending shares down 8 percent before the opening bell.


The Largest Ship In the World Is Being Built In Korea - Mon Oct 20 12:22:47 2014

HughPickens.com writes Alastair Philip Wiper writes that at 194 feet wide and 1,312 feet long, the Matz Maersk Triple E is the largest ship ever built, capable of carrying 18,000 20-foot containers. Its propellers weigh 70 tons apiece and it is too big for the Panama Canal, though it can shimmy through the Suez. A U-shaped hull design allows more room below deck, providing capacity for 18,000 shipping containers arranged in 23 rows – enough space to transport 864 million bananas. The Triple-E is constructed from 425 pre-fabricated segments, making up 21 giant "megablock" cross sections. Most of the 955,250 liters of paint used on each ship is in the form of an anti- corrosive epoxy, pre-applied to each block. Finally, a polyurethane topcoat of the proprietary Maersk brand color "Hardtop AS-Blue 504" is sprayed on.

Twenty Triple-E class container ships have been commissioned by Danish shipping company Maersk Lines for delivery by 2015. The ships are being built at the Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering factory in the South Korean port of Opko. The shipyard, about an hour from Busan in the south of the country, employs about 46,000 people, and "could reasonably be described as the worlds biggest Legoland," writes Wiper. "Smiling workers cycle around the huge shipyard as massive, abstractly over proportioned chunks of ships are craned around and set into place." The Triple E is just one small part of the output of the shipyard, as around 100 other vessels including oil rigs are in various stages of completion at the any time." The vessels will serve ports along the northern-Europe-to-Asia route, many of which have had to expand to cope with the ships' size. "You don't feel like you're inside a boat, it's more like a cathedral," Wiper says. "Imagine this space being full of consumer goods, and think about how many there are on just one ship. Then think about how many are sailing round the world every day. It's like trying to think about infinity."



Ask Slashdot: LTE Hotspot As Sole Cellular Connection? - Mon Oct 20 09:08:45 2014

New submitter iamacat writes I am thinking of canceling my regular voice plan and using an LTE hotspot for all my voice and data needs. One big draw is ability to easily use multiple devices without expensive additional lines or constantly swapping SIMs. So I can have an ultra compact Android phone and an iPod touch and operate whichever has the apps I feel like using. Or, if I anticipate needing more screen real estate, I can bring only a Nexus 7 or a laptop and still be able to make and receive VoIP calls. When I am home or at work, I would be within range of regular WiFi and not need to eat into the data plan or battery life of the hotspot.

Has anyone done something similar? Did the setup work well? Which devices and VoIP services did you end up using? How about software for automatic WiFi handoffs between the hotspot and regular home/work networks?



The Woman Who Should Have Been the First Female Astronaut - Mon Oct 20 06:08:56 2014

StartsWithABang writes We like to think of the Mercury 7 — the very first group of NASA astronauts — as the "best of the best," having been chosen from a pool of over 500 of the top military test pilots after three rounds of intense physical and mental tests. Yet when women were allowed to take the same tests, one of them clearly distinguished herself, outperforming practically all of the men. If NASA had really believed in merit, Jerrie Cobb would have been the first female in space, even before Valentina Tereshkova, more than 50 years ago. She still deserves to go.


3-D Printed "Iron Man" Prosthetic Hands Now Available For Kids - Mon Oct 20 03:21:04 2014

PC World (drawing on an article from 3DPrint.com) notes that inventor Pat Starace has released his plans for a 3-D printable prosthetic hand designed to appeal both to kids who need it and their parents (who can't all afford the cost of conventional prostheses). The hand "has the familiar gold-and-crimson color scheme favored by Ol' Shellhead, and it's designed with housings for a working gyroscope, magnetometer, accelerometer, and other "cool sensors", as well as a battery housing and room for a low-power Bluetooth chip and charging port." It takes about 48 hours in printing time (and "a lot" of support material), but the result is inexpensive and functional.


If You're Connected, Apple Collects Your Data - Mon Oct 20 00:18:01 2014

fyngyrz (762201) writes It would seem that no matter how you configure Yosemite, Apple is listening. Keeping in mind that this is only what's been discovered so far, and given what's known to be going on, it's not unthinkable that more is as well. Should users just sit back and accept this as the new normal? It will be interesting to see if these discoveries result in an outcry, or not. Is it worse than the data collection recently reported in a test version of Windows?


In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail - Sun Oct 19 23:20:54 2014

An anonymous reader writes with this news from The Guardian about a proposed change in UK law that would greatly increase the penalties for online incivility: Internet trolls who spread "venom" on social media could be jailed for up to two years, the justice secretary Chris Grayling has said as he announced plans to quadruple the maximum prison sentence. Grayling, who spoke of a "baying cybermob", said the changes will allow magistrates to pass on the most serious cases to crown courts. The changes, which will be introduced as amendments to the criminal justice and courts bill, will mean the maximum custodial sentence of six months will be increased to 24 months. Grayling told the Mail on Sunday: "These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life. No one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media. That is why we are determined to quadruple the six-month sentence.


Gigabit Cellular Networks Could Happen, With 24GHz Spectrum - Sun Oct 19 22:07:32 2014

An anonymous reader writes A Notice of Inquiry was issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Friday that focuses research on higher frequencies for sending gigabit streams of mobile data. The inquiry specifically states that its purpose is to determine "what frequency bands above 24 GHz would be most suitable for mobile services, and to begin developing a record on mobile service rules and a licensing framework for mobile services in those bands". Cellular networks currently use frequencies between 600 MHz to 3 GHz with the most desirable frequencies under 1 GHz being owned by AT&T and Verizon Wireless. The FCC feels, however, that new technology indicates the potential for utilizing higher frequency ranges not necessarily as a replacement but as the implementation necessary to finally usher in 5G wireless technology. The FCC anticipates the advent of 5G commercial offerings within six years.


Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres - Sun Oct 19 21:05:07 2014

BarbaraHudson writes Those free soft drinks at your last start-up may come with a huge hidden price tag. The Toronto Sun reports that researchers at the University of California — San Francisco found study participants who drank pop daily had shorter telomeres — the protective units of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes in cells — in white blood cells. Short telomeres have been associated with chronic aging diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. The researchers calculated daily consumption of a 20-ounce pop is associated with 4.6 years of additional biological aging. The effect on telomere length is comparable to that of smoking, they said. "This finding held regardless of age, race, income and education level," researcher Elissa Epel said in a press release.


NASA Cancels "Sunjammer" Solar Sail Demonstration Mission - Sun Oct 19 20:00:40 2014

An anonymous reader writes "Space News reports that NASA has cancelled its solar sail demonstration mission (also known as Sunjammer) citing "a lack of confidence in its contractor's ability to deliver." "Company president Nathan] Barnes said that in 2011 he reached out to several NASA centers and companies that he believed could build the spacecraft and leave L'Garde free to focus on the solar sail. None of those he approached — he only identified NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California — took him up on the offer. Rather than give up on the opportunity to land a NASA contract, L'Garde decided to bring the spacecraft development in house. It did not work out, and as of Oct. 17, the company had taken delivery of about $2 million worth of spacecraft hardware including a hydrazine tank from ATK Space Systems of Commerce, California, and four mono-propellant thrusters from Aerojet Rocketdyne of Sacramento, California."


Brain Patterns Give Clues To Why Some People Just Keep Gambling - Sun Oct 19 18:57:47 2014

Research from several UK universities , as reported by Time, indicates that the brain activity of compulsive gamblers shows a marked difference in response to pleasure-triggering behavior, which may help explain why they have trouble stopping: [The participants] took an amphetamine capsule, which unleashes endorphins with similar effects to the rush you get from exercise or alcohol, the study says. An additional PET scan revealed that pathological gamblers responded differently to the drug. They released fewer endorphins than those who didn't gamble, and they also reported lower levels of euphoria on a questionnaire afterward. This might help explain the addictive part of pathological gambling: to get pleasure from the act, problem gamblers might need more of it or to work harder for it.


Watch Comet Siding Spring's Mars Fly-By, Live - Sun Oct 19 17:31:08 2014

From the L.A. Times, and with enough time to tune in, comes this tip: Comet Siding Spring's closest approach to the red planet will occur at 11:27 a.m. [Pacific Time] on Sunday. At its closest approach, the comet will come within 87,000 miles of Mars. That's 10 times closer than any comet on record has ever come to Earth. Sadly, this historic flyby is not visible to the naked eye. People who live in the Southern Hemisphere have a shot at seeing the comet if they have access to a good telescope six inches or wider. However, most of us in the Northern Hemisphere will not be able to see the comet at all, experts say, no matter how big a telescope we've got. Here to save the cometary day is astronomy website Slooh.com. Beginning at 11:15 a.m PDT on Sunday, it will host a live broadcast of the comet's closest approach to Mars, as seen by the website's telescopes in South Africa and in the Canary Islands. Later in the day, beginning at 5:30 p.m. PDT, Slooh will broadcast another view of the comet from a telescope in Chile.


Ask Slashdot: Good Hosting Service For a Parody Site? - Sun Oct 19 15:55:14 2014

An anonymous reader writes "Ok, bear with me now. I know this is not PC Mag 2014 review of hosting services. I am thinking of getting a parody website up. I am mildly concerned about potential reaction of the parodee, who has been known to be a little heavy handed when it comes to things like that. In short, I want to make sure that the hosting company won't flake out just because of potential complaints. I checked some companies and their TOS and AUPs all seem to have weird-ass restrictions (Arvixe, for example, has a list of unacceptable material that happens to list RPGs and MUDS ). I live in U.S.; parodee in Poland. What would you recommend?"


No More Lee-Enfield: Canada's Rangers To Get a Tech Upgrade - Sun Oct 19 14:32:09 2014

ControlsGeek writes The Lee-Enfield .303 rifle is being phased out for use by the Canadian Rangers, a Northern aboriginal branch of the Armed Forces. The rifle has been in service with the Canadian military for 100 years and is still being used by the Rangers for its unfailing reliability in Arctic conditions. If only the hardware that we use in computers could have such a track record. The wheels turn slowly, though, and it's not clear what kind of gun will replace the Enfields.


Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday - Sun Oct 19 13:46:46 2014

HughPickens.com writes Erik Karjaluoto writes that he recently installed OS X Yosemite and his initial reaction was "This got hit by the ugly stick." But Karjaluoto says that Apple's decision to make a wholesale shift from Lucida to Helvetica defies his expectations and wondered why Apple would make a change that impedes legibility, requires more screen space, and makes the GUI appear fuzzy? The Answer: Tomorrow.

Microsoft's approach with Windows, and backward compatibility in general, is commendable. "Users can install new versions of this OS on old machines, sometimes built on a mishmash of components, and still have it work well. This is a remarkable feat of engineering. It also comes with limitations — as it forces Microsoft to operate in the past." But Apple doesn't share this focus on interoperability or legacy. "They restrict hardware options, so they can build around a smaller number of specs. Old hardware is often left behind (turn on a first-generation iPad, and witness the sluggishness). Meanwhile, dying conventions are proactively euthanized," says Karjaluoto. "When Macs no longer shipped with floppy drives, many felt baffled. This same experience occurred when a disk (CD/DVD) reader no longer came standard." In spite of the grumblings of many, Karjaluoto doesn't recall many such changes that we didn't later look upon as the right choice.



Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday - Sun Oct 19 13:35:49 2014

HughPickens.com writes Erik Karjaluoto writes that he recently installed OS X Yosemite and his initial reaction was "This got hit by the ugly stick." But Karjaluoto says that Apple's decision to make a wholesale shift from Lucida to Helvetica defies his expectations and wondered why Apple would make a change that impedes legibility, requires more screen space, and makes the GUI appear fuzzy? The Answer: Tomorrow.

Microsoft's approach with Windows, and backward compatibility in general, is commendable. "Users can install new versions of this OS on old machines, sometimes built on a mishmash of components, and still have it work well. This is a remarkable feat of engineering. It also comes with limitations — as it forces Microsoft to operate in the past." But Apple doesn't share this focus on interoperability or legacy. "They restrict hardware options, so they can build around a smaller number of specs. Old hardware is often left behind (turn on a first-generation iPad, and witness the sluggishness). Meanwhile, dying conventions are proactively euthanized," says Karjaluoto. "When Macs no longer shipped with floppy drives, many felt baffled. This same experience occurred when a disk (CD/DVD) reader no longer came standard." In spite of the grumblings of many, Karjaluoto doesn't recall many such changes that we didn't later look upon as the right choice.



Be True To Your CS School: LinkedIn Ranks US Schools For Job-Seeking Programmers - Sun Oct 19 12:43:02 2014

theodp writes "The Motley Fool reports that the Data Scientists at LinkedIn have been playing with their Big Data, ranking schools based on how successful recent grads have been at landing desirable software development jobs. Here's their Top 25: CMU, Caltech, Cornell, MIT, Princeton, Berkeley, Univ. of Washington, Duke, Michigan, Stanford, UCLA, Illinois, UT Austin, Brown, UCSD, Harvard, Rice, Penn, Univ. of Arizona, Harvey Mudd, UT Dallas, San Jose State, USC, Washington University, RIT. There's also a shorter list for the best schools for software developers at startups, which draws a dozen schools from the previously mentioned schools, and adds Columbia, Univ. of Virginia, and Univ. of Maryland College Park. If you're in a position to actually hire new graduates, how much do you care about applicants' alma maters?


BBC Takes a Stand For the Public's Right To Remember Redacted Links - Sun Oct 19 09:31:35 2014

Martin Spamer writes with word that the BBC is to publish a continually updated list of its articles removed from Google under the controversial 'right to be forgotten' notices." The BBC will begin - in the "next few weeks" - publishing the list of removed URLs it has been notified about by Google. [Editorial policy head David] Jordan said the BBC had so far been notified of 46 links to articles that had been removed. They included a link to a blog post by Economics Editor Robert Peston. The request was believed to have been made by a person who had left a comment underneath the article. An EU spokesman later said the removal was "not a good judgement" by Google.


Canada Will Ship 800 Doses of Experimental Ebola Drug to WHO - Sun Oct 19 06:21:35 2014

The WSJ reports that 800 doses of an experimental vaccine for Ebola, developed over a decade at Public Health Agency of Canada’s main laboratory in Winnipeg, will be shipped to the World Health Organization in an effort to help fight the ongoing Ebola crisis in West Africa: The vaccine will be shipped by air from Winnipeg, Manitoba, to the University Hospital of Geneva via specialized courier. The vials will be sent in three separate shipments as a precautionary measure, due to the challenges in moving a vaccine that must kept at a very low temperature at all times. ... The vaccine had shown “very promising results in animal research” and earlier this week, Ottawa announced the start of clinical trials on humans at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in the U.S. ... The government has licensed NewLink Genetics Corp. , of the U.S., through its wholly owned subsidiary BioProtection Systems Corp. to further develop the vaccine for use in humans. The government owns the intellectual property rights associated with the vaccine.


Despite Patent Settlement, Apple Pulls Bose Merchandise From Its Stores - Sun Oct 19 03:21:33 2014

Apple has long sold Bose headphones and speakers in its retail stores, including in the time since it acquired Bose-competitor Beats Audio, and despite the lawsuit filed by Bose against Apple alleging patent violations on the part of Beats. That's come to an end this week, though: Apple's dropped Bose merchandise both in its retail locations and online, despite recent news that the two companies have settled the patent suit.


iFixit Tears Apart Apple's Shiny New Retina iMac - Sun Oct 19 00:15:47 2014

iFixit gives the new Retina iMac a score of 5 (out of 10) for repairability, and says that the new all-in-one is very little changed internally from the system (non-Retina) it succeeds. A few discoveries along the way: The new model "retains the familiar, easily accessible RAM upgrade slot from iMacs of yore"; the display panel (the one iin the machine disassmbled by iFixit at least) was manufactured by LG Display; except for that new display, "the hardware inside the iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display looks much the same as last year's 27" iMac." In typical iFixit style, the teardown is documented with high-resolution pictures and more technical details.


Robot SmackDowns Wants To Bring Robot Death Matches To an Arena Near You - Sat Oct 18 23:13:10 2014

Business Insider profiles Andrew Stroup, Gui Cavalcanti and Matt Oehrlein, who are trying to get off the ground a robot competition league, called Robot SmackDowns. The idea, as you might guess from the name, is to showcase violence and drama to draw on the crowd-appeal of wrestling, NASCAR, and monster truck rallies: this is definitely not Dean Kamen's FIRST — it's giant mechanical beasts shooting at and otherwise trying to destroy each other. And it's not quite right to call them robots in the usual sense; they're more like mecha: "In a MegaBots battle, a two-member team sits inside the bot's upper torso, where the controls systems are housed. Although the co-founders assure me that the pilot and gunner are well protected inside, the situation presents a heightened suspense. Each 15,000-pound robot is equipped with six-inch cannons inside its arms that fire paint-filled missiles and cannon balls at 120 miles per hour. Good aim can cause enough damage to jam its opponent's weapons system or shoot of a limb." They'll be launching a Kickstarter campaign soon; according to the article, "Assuming it raises enough money to build a fleet, [the company's] plan is to take the bots on the road. They will tour the country, face off in epic battles against other MegaBots, and build a fan base. Stroup says (without giving specifics) networks have reached out and will closely watch how MegaBot, Inc.'s upcoming Kickstarter campaign performs. The possibilities for distribution seem endless, though the team is tight-lipped about the exact direction it's headed."


Robot SmackDowns Wants To Bring Robot Death Matches To an Arena Near You - Sat Oct 18 23:02:47 2014

Business Insiider profiles Andrew Stroup, Gui Cavalcanti and Matt Oehrlein, who are trying to get off the ground a robot competition league, called Robot SmackDowns. The idea, as you might guess from the name, is to showcase violence and drama to draw on the crowd-appeal of wrestling, NASCAR, and monster truck rallies: this is definitely not Dean Kamen's FIRST — it's giant mechanical beasts shooting at and otherwise trying to destroy each other. And it's not quite right to call them robots in the usual sense; they're more like mecha: "In a MegaBots battle, a two-member team sits inside the bot's upper torso, where the controls systems are housed. Although the co-founders assure me that the pilot and gunner are well protected inside, the situation presents a heightened suspense. Each 15,000-pound robot is equipped with six-inch cannons inside its arms that fire paint-filled missiles and cannon balls at 120 miles per hour. Good aim can cause enough damage to jam its opponent's weapons system or shoot of a limb." They'll be launching a Kickstarter campaign soon; according to the article, "Assuming it raises enough money to build a fleet, [the company's] plan is to take the bots on the road. They will tour the country, face off in epic battles against other MegaBots, and build a fan base. Stroup says (without giving specifics) networks have reached out and will closely watch how MegaBot, Inc.'s upcoming Kickstarter campaign performs. The possibilities for distribution seem endless, though the team is tight-lipped about the exact direction it's headed."


JavaScript and the Netflix User Interface - Sat Oct 18 21:27:48 2014

CowboyRobot writes Alex Liu is a senior UI engineer at Netflix and part of the core team leading the migration of Netflix.com to Node.js. He has an article at ACM's Queue in which he describeshow JavaScript is used at Netflix. 'With increasingly more application logic being shifted to the browser, developers have begun to push the boundaries of what JavaScript was originally intended for. Entire desktop applications are now being rebuilt entirely in JavaScript—the Google Docs office suite is one example. Such large applications require creative solutions to manage the complexity of loading the required JavaScript files and their dependencies. The problem can be compounded when introducing multivariate A/B testing, a concept that is at the core of the Netflix DNA. Multivariate testing introduces a number of problems that JavaScript cannot handle using native constructs, one of which is the focus of this article: managing conditional dependencies.'


Snapchat Will Introduce Ads, Attempt To Keep Them Other Than Creepy - Sat Oct 18 19:31:22 2014

As reported by VentureBeat, dissapearing-message service Snapchat is introducing ads. Considering how most people feel about ads, they're trying to ease them in gently: "Ads can be ignored: Users will not be required to watch them. If you do view an ad, or if you ignore it for 24 hours, it will disappear just like Stories do." Hard to say how much it will mollify the service's users, but the company says "We won’t put advertisements in your personal communication – things like Snaps or Chats. That would be totally rude. We want to see if we can deliver an experience that’s fun and informative, the way ads used to be, before they got creepy and targeted."


Florida Supreme Court: Police Can't Grab Cell Tower Data Without a Warrant - Sat Oct 18 18:38:01 2014

SternisheFan writes with an excerpt from Wired with some (state-specific, but encouraging) news about how much latitude police are given to track you based on signals like wireless transmissions. The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that obtaining cell phone location data to track a person's location or movement in real time constitutes a Fourth Amendment search and therefore requires a court-ordered warrant.

The case specifically involves cell tower data for a convicted drug dealer that police obtained from a telecom without a warrant. But the way the ruling is written (.pdf), it would also cover the use of so-called "stingrays" — sophisticated technology law enforcement agencies use to locate and track people in the field without assistance from telecoms. Agencies around the country, including in Florida, have been using the technology to track suspects — sometimes without obtaining a court order, other times deliberately deceiving judges and defendants about their use of the devices to track suspects, telling judges the information came from "confidential" sources rather than disclose their use of stingrays. The new ruling would require them to obtain a warrant or stop using the devices. The American Civil Liberties Union calls the Florida ruling "a resounding defense" of the public's right to privacy.



Apple's Next Hit Could Be a Microsoft Surface Pro Clone - Sat Oct 18 17:43:10 2014

theodp writes Good artists copy, great artists steal," Steve Jobs used to say. Having launched a perfectly-timed attack against Samsung and phablets with its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Leonid Bershidsky suggests that the next big thing from Apple will be a tablet-laptop a la Microsoft's Surface Pro 3. "Before yesterday's Apple [iPad] event," writes Bershidsky, "rumors were strong of an upcoming giant iPad, to be called iPad Pro or iPad Plus. There were even leaked pictures of a device with a 12.9-inch screen, bigger than the Surface Pro's 12-inch one. It didn't come this time, but it will. I've been expecting a touch-screen Apple laptop for a few years now, and keep being wrong.


Ask Slashdot: Stop PulseAudio From Changing Sound Settings? - Sat Oct 18 16:39:06 2014

New submitter cgdae writes Does anyone know how to stop PulseAudio/Pavucontrol from changing sound settings whenever there is a hardware change such as headphones being plugged in/out or docking/undocking my laptop ? I recently had to install PulseAudio on my Debian system because the Linux version of Skype started to require it. Ever since, whenever i dock/undock or use/stop using headphones, all sound disappears, and i have to go to Pavucontrol and make random changes to its 'Output Devices' or 'Speakers' or 'Headphones' tab, or mute/unmute things, or drag a volume slider which has inexplicably moved to nearly zero, until sound magically comes back again. I've tried creating empty PulseAudio config files in my home directory, and/or disabling the loading of various PulseAudio modules in /etc/pulse/*.conf, but i cannot stop PulseAudio from messing things up whenever there's a hardware change. It's really frustrating that something like PulseAudio doesn't have an easy-to-find way of preventing it from trying (and failing) to be clever.

[In case it's relevant, my system is a Lenovo X220 laptop, with Debian jessie, kernel 3.14-2-amd64. I run fvwm with an ancient config.]



Researchers Scrambling To Build Ebola-Fighting Robots - Sat Oct 18 15:36:38 2014

Lucas123 (935744) writes U.S. robotics researchers from around the country are collaborating on a project to build autonomous vehicles that could deliver food and medicine, and telepresence robots that could safely decontaminate equipment and help bury the victims of Ebola. Organizers of Safety Robotics for Ebola Workers are planning a workshop on Nov. 7. that will be co-hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Texas A&M, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of California, Berkeley. "We are trying to identify the technologies that can help human workers minimize their contact with Ebola. Whatever technology we deploy, there will be a human in the loop. We are not trying to replace human caregivers. We are trying to minimize contact," said Taskin Padir, an assistant professor of robotics engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.


Direct3D 9.0 Support On Track For Linux's Gallium3D Drivers - Sat Oct 18 14:42:45 2014

An anonymous reader writes Twelve years after Microsoft debuted DirectX 9.0, open-source developers are getting ready to possibly land Direct3D 9.0 support within the open-source Linux Mesa/Gallium3D code-base. The "Gallium3D Nine" state tracker allows accelerating D3D9 natively by Gallium3D drivers and there's patches for Wine so that Windows games can utilize this state tracker without having to go through Wine's costly D3D-to-OGL translator. The Gallium3D D3D9 code has been in development since last year and is now reaching a point where it's under review for mainline Mesa. The uses for this Direct3D 9 state tracker will likely be very limited outside of using it for Wine gaming.


India Successfully Launches Region-Specific Navigation Satellite - Sat Oct 18 13:38:01 2014

vasanth writes India has successfully launched IRNSS-1C, the third satellite in the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), early on October 16. This is the 27th consecutively successful mission of the PSLV(Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle). The entire constellation of seven satellites is planned to be completed by 2015. The satellite is designed to provide accurate position information service to users in the country as well as in the region extending up to 1,500 km from its boundary, which is its primary service area. In the Kargil war in 1999, the Indian military sought GPS data for the region from the U.S. The space-based navigation system maintained by the U.S. government would have provided vital information, but the U.S. denied it to India. A need for an indigenous satellite navigation system was felt earlier, but the Kargil experience made India realise its inevitability in building its own navigation system. "Geopolitical needs teach you that some countries can deny you the service in times of conflict. It's also a way of arm twisting and a country should protect itself against that," said S Ramakrishnan, director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram.


The One App You Need On Your Resume If You Want a Job At Google - Sat Oct 18 12:42:07 2014

HughPickens.com writes Jim Edwards writes at Business Insider that Google is so large and has such a massive need for talent that if you have the right skills, Google is really enthusiastic to hear from you — especially if you know how to use MatLab, a fourth-generation programming language that allows matrix manipulations, plotting of functions and data, implementation of algorithms, creation of user interfaces, and interfacing with programs written in other languages, including C, C++, Java, Fortran and Python. The key is that data is produced visually or graphically, rather than in a spreadsheet. According to Jonathan Rosenberg , Google's former senior vice president for product management, being a master of statistics is probably your best way into Google right now and if you want to work at Google, make sure you can use MatLab. Big data — how to create it, manipulate it, and put it to good use — is one of those areas in which Google is really enthusiastic about. The sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians. When every business has free and ubiquitous data, the ability to understand it and extract value from it becomes the complimentary scarce factor. It leads to intelligence, and the intelligent business is the successful business, regardless of its size. Rosenberg says that "my quote about statistics that I didn't use but often do is, 'Data is the sword of the 21st century, those who wield it the samurai.'"


NSA CTO Patrick Dowd Moonlighting For Private Security Firm - Sat Oct 18 09:31:02 2014

First time accepted submitter un1nsp1red (2503532) writes Current NSA CTO Patrick Dowd has taken a part-time position with former-NSA director Keith Alexander's security firm IronNet Cybersecurity — while retaining his position as chief technology officer for the NSA. The Guardian states that 'Patrick Dowd continues to work as a senior NSA official while also working part time for Alexander's IronNet Cybersecurity, a firm reported to charge up to $1m a month for advising banks on protecting their data from hackers. It is exceedingly rare for a US official to be allowed to work for a private, for-profit company in a field intimately related to his or her public function.' Some may give Alexander a pass on the possible conflict of interests as he's now retired, but what about a current NSA official moonlighting for a private security firm?


Cisco Exec: Turnover In Engineering No Problem - Sat Oct 18 06:30:01 2014

alphadogg (971356) writes The engineering reorganization currently underway at network giant Cisco Systems is intended to streamline product development and delivery to customers. That it is prompting some high profile departures is an expected byproduct of any realignment of this size, which affects 25,000 employees, says Cisco Executive Vice President Pankaj Patel, who is conducting the transformation. "People leave for personal business reasons," Patel said in an interview with Network World this week. "Similar transformations" among Cisco peers and customers "see personnel change of 30% to 50%."


New Music Discovered In Donkey Kong For Arcade - Sat Oct 18 03:18:01 2014

First time accepted submitter furrykef . writes Over 33 years have passed since Donkey Kong first hit arcades, but it still has new surprises. I was poking through the game in a debugger when I discovered that the game contains unused music and voice clips. One of the tunes would have been played when you rescued Pauline, and two others are suggestive of deleted cutscenes. In addition, Pauline was originally meant to speak. In one clip she says something unintelligible, but it may be "Hey!", "Nice!", or "Thanks!". The other is clearly a cry for help.


Facebook 'Safety Check' Lets Friends Know You're OK After a Major Disaster - Sat Oct 18 00:16:33 2014

rtoz (2530056) writes Facebook has launched a new Tool called "Safety Check." The Facebook Safety Check tool will notify your friends so that they know you're OK after a major disaster. In times of disaster or crisis, people turn to Facebook to check on loved ones and get updates. "During a major disaster, Safety Check will help you: Let friends and family know you're safe; Check on others in the affected area; Mark your friends as safe ... When the tool is activated after a natural disaster and if you're in the affected area, you'll receive a Facebook notification asking if you're safe. [Facebook] will determine your location by looking at the city you have listed in your profile, your last location if you've opted in to the Nearby Friends product, and the city where you are using the internet. ... If you're safe, you can select "I'm Safe" and a notification and News Feed story will be generated with your update. Your friends can also mark you as safe." More creepy, or more reassuring?


How Whisper Tracks Users Who Don't Share Their Location - Fri Oct 17 23:33:35 2014

blottsie (3618811) writes "On Thursday, the Guardian reported that secret-sharing app Whisper was tracking users' locations even when they opt-out of sharing their location. [See also this earlier, related story.] Whisper has denied the accusations—but this may be a matter of semantics. Whisper allegedly uses an outdated version of GeoIP by MaxMind, which uses your IP address to estimate your location on a map. Whisper's Chad DePue said in a comment on Hacker News that the tool is "so inaccurate as to be laughable," suggesting that determining something as broad as your country or state won't bother the basic user (and he could be right, but what is and isn't an upsetting degree of user information is another argument entirely)."


The Physics of Why Cold Fusion Isn't Real - Fri Oct 17 22:51:45 2014

StartsWithABang writes If you can reach the fabled "breakeven point" of nuclear fusion, you'll have opened up an entire new source of clean, reliable, safe, renewable and abundant energy. You will change the world. At present, fusion is one of those things we can make happen through a variety of methods, but — unless you're the Sun — we don't have a way to ignite and sustain that reaction without needing to input more energy than we can extract in a usable fashion from the fusion that occurs. One alternative approach to the norm is, rather than try and up the energy released in a sustained, hot fusion reaction, to instead lower the energy inputted, and try to make fusion happen under "cold" conditions. If you listen in the right (wrong?) places, you'll hear periodic reports that cold fusion is happening, even though those reports have always crumbled under scrutiny. Here's why, most likely, they always will.


Kickstarter Cancels Anonabox Funding Campaign - Fri Oct 17 22:10:53 2014

An anonymous reader writes: On Friday, the controversy surrounding Anonabox reached its zenith with Kickstarter officially canceling the project's funding campaign. Anonabox began with a modest goal of $7,500, but quickly reached its goal 82 times over. Then funders and interested parties began to scrutinize the project's claims, and that's when the project ran into trouble. From hardware that wasn't actually custom-made to software that didn't actually fulfill promises of privacy-focused routing on the internet, the facts regarding Anonabox proved that it was in blatant violation of Kickstarter's rules against false advertising. This project clearly failed, but if the support it initially garnered is any indication, the public is hungry for easy-to-use technology that encrypts and anonymizes all personal internet traffic.


South Korean ID System To Be Rebuilt From Scratch After Massive Leaks - Fri Oct 17 21:26:28 2014

AmiMoJo writes: South Korea's national identity card system may need a complete overhaul following huge data thefts dating back to 2004. The government is considering issuing new ID numbers to every citizen over age 17, costing billions of dollars. The ID numbers and personal details of an estimated 80% of the country's 50 million people have been stolen from banks and other targets. Some 20 million people, including President Park Geun-hye, have been victims of a data theft. Citizens are unable to change their credentials, which are used in many different sectors, making them an attractive target for hackers.


Google Releases Android 5.0 Lollipop SDK and Nexus Preview Images - Fri Oct 17 20:42:03 2014

An anonymous reader writes: As promised, Google today released the full Android 5.0 Lollipop SDK, along with updated developer images for Nexus 5, Nexus 7 (2013), ADT-1, and the Android emulator. The latest version of Android isn't available just yet, but the company is giving developers a head start (about two weeks), so they can test their apps on the new platform. To get the latest Android 5.0 SDK, fire up Android SDK Manager and head to the Tools section, followed by latest SDK Tools, SDK Platform-tools, and SDK Build-tools. Select everything under the Android 5.0 section, hit "Install packages...", accept the licensing agreement, and finally click Install. Google also rolled out updated resources for their Material Design guidelines.


High-Tech Walkers Could Help Japan's Elderly Stay Independent - Fri Oct 17 19:56:25 2014

jfruh writes: You may have heard that Japan will deal with its aging population by relying more on robots. Osaka startup RT Works is showing what that might mean in practice: not humanoid robotic caregivers, but tech-enhanced versions of traditional tools like walkers. RT Works's walker automatically adjusts to help its user deal with hilly terrain, and can call for help if it moves outside an predefined range.


Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly - Fri Oct 17 19:12:39 2014

TheRealHocusLocus writes: Disaster preppers have a saying, "two is one and one is none," which might also apply to 24x7 base load energy sources that could sustain us beyond the age of fossil fuel. I too was happy to see Skunkworks' Feb 2013 announcement and the recent "we're still making progress" reminder. I was moved by the reaction on Slashdot: a groundswell of "Finally!" and "We're saved!" However, fusion doesn't need to be the only solution, and it's not entirely without drawbacks.

All nuclear reactors will generate waste via activation as the materials of which they are constructed erode and become unstable under high neutron flux. I'm not pointing this out because I think it's a big deal — a few fusion advocates disingenuously tend to sell the process as if it were "100% clean." A low volume of non-recyclable waste from fusion reactors that is walk-away safe in ~100 years is doable. Let's do it. And likewise, the best comparable waste profile for fission is a two-fluid LFTR, a low volume of waste that is walk-away safe in ~300 years. Let's do it.

Why pursue both, with at least the same level of urgency? Because both could carry us indefinitely. LFTR is less complicated in theory and practice. It is closer to market. There is plenty of cross-over: LFTR's materials challenges and heat engine interface — and the necessity for waste management — are the same as they will be for commercial-scale fusion reactors. To get up to speed please see the 2006 fusion lecture by Dr. Robert Bussard on the Wiffle ball 6 plasma containment, likely the precursor to the Skunkworks approach. And see Thorium Remix 2011 which presents the case for LFTR.



Lead Mir Developer: 'Mir More Relevant Than Wayland In Two Years' - Fri Oct 17 18:30:22 2014

M-Saunders writes Canonical courted plenty of controversy with it announced Mir, its home-grown display server. But why did the company choose to go it alone, and not collaborate with the Wayland project? Linux Voice has an interview with Thomas Voss, Mir's lead developer. Voss explains how Mir came into being, what it offers, and why he believes it will outlast Wayland.


Tesla Teardown Reveals Driver-facing Electronics Built By iPhone 6 Suppliers - Fri Oct 17 18:20:03 2014

Lucas123 writes: The Tesla Model S gets attention because it's an EV that can go from from 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 4.2 seconds and can travel 265 miles on a single charge. But, a teardown of the vehicle by IHS Technology has also revealed that Elon Musk avoided third-party design and build routes used traditionally by auto makers and spared no expense on the instrument cluster and infotainment (head unit) system, which is powered by two 1.4Ghz, quad-core NVIDIA Tegra processors. IHS called the Tesla's head unit the most sophisticated it's ever seen, with 1,000 more components than any it has previously analyzed. A bill of materials for the virtual instrument cluster and the premium media control unit is also roughly twice the cost of the highest-end infotainment unit examined by IHS.


Tesla Teardown Reveals Driver-facing Electronics Built By iPhone 6 Suppliers - Fri Oct 17 17:56:28 2014

Lucas123 writes: The Tesla Model S gets attention because it's an EV that can go from from 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 4.2 seconds and can travel 265 miles on a single charge. But, a teardown of the vehicle by IHS Technology has also revealed that Elon Musk avoided third-party design and build routes used traditionally by auto makers and spared no expense on the instrument cluster and infotainment (head unit) system, which is powered by two 3, 1.4Ghz, quad-core NVIDIA Tegra processors. IHS called the Tesla's head unit the most sophisticated it's ever seen, with 1,000 more components than any it has previously analyzed. A bill of materials for the virtual instrument cluster and the premium media control unit is also roughly twice the cost of the highest-end infotainment unit examined by IHS.


Python-LMDB In a High-Performance Environment - Fri Oct 17 17:02:53 2014

lkcl writes: In an open letter to the core developers behind OpenLDAP (Howard Chu) and Python-LMDB (David Wilson) is a story of a successful creation of a high-performance task scheduling engine written (perplexingly) in Python. With only partial optimization allowing tasks to be executed in parallel at a phenomenal rate of 240,000 per second, the choice to use Python-LMDB for the per-task database store based on its benchmarks, as well as its well-researched design criteria, turned out to be the right decision. Part of the success was also due to earlier architectural advice gratefully received here on Slashdot. What is puzzling, though, is that LMDB on Wikipedia is being constantly deleted, despite its "notability" by way of being used in a seriously-long list of prominent software libre projects, which has been, in part, motivated by the Oracle-driven BerkeleyDB license change. It would appear that the original complaint about notability came from an Oracle employee as well.


How Curved Spacetime Can Be Created In a Quantum Optics Lab - Fri Oct 17 16:30:06 2014

KentuckyFC writes: One way to explore the link between quantum mechanics and general relativity is to study the physics that occurs on a small scale in highly curved spacetimes. However, these conditions only occur in the most extreme environments such as at the edge of black holes or in the instants after the Big Bang. But now one physicist has described how it is possible to create curved spacetime in an ordinary quantum optics lab.

The idea is based on optical lattices, which form when a pair of lasers interfere to create an eggbox-like interference pattern. When ultracold atoms are dropped into the lattice, they become trapped like ping pong balls in an eggbox. This optical trapping technique is common in labs all over the world. However, the ultracold atoms do not stay at a fixed location in the lattice because they can tunnel from one location to another. This tunneling is a form of movement through the lattice and can be controlled by changing the laser parameters to make tunneling easier or more difficult.

Now, a physicist has shown that on a large scale, the tunneling motion of atoms through the lattice is mathematically equivalent to the motion of atoms in a quantum field in a flat spacetime. And that means it is possible to create a formal analogue of a curved spacetime by changing the laser parameters across the lattice. Varying the laser parameters over time even simulates the behavior of gravitational waves. Creating this kind of curved spacetime in the lab won't reveal any new physics but it will allow researchers to study the behavior of existing laws under these conditions for the first time. That's not been possible even in theory because the equations that describe these behaviors are so complex that they can only be solved in the simplest circumstances.



Debian Talks About Systemd Once Again - Fri Oct 17 15:47:09 2014

An anonymous reader writes: A couple of months ago the technical committee for Debian decided in favor of systemd. This is now a subject for discussion once again, and Ian Jackson says he wants a general resolution, so every developer within the Debian project can decide. After a short time, the required amount of supporters was reached, and the discussion can start once again.


Chemists Grow Soil Fungus On Cheerios, Discover New Antifungal Compounds - Fri Oct 17 15:05:06 2014

MTorrice writes: Many drugs that treat bacterial and fungal infections were found in microbes growing in the dirt. These organisms synthesize the compounds to fend off other bacteria and fungi around them. To find possible new drugs, chemists try to coax newly discovered microbial species to start making their arsenal of antimicrobial chemicals in the lab. But fungi can be stubborn, producing just a small set of already-known compounds.

Now, one team of chemists has hit upon a curiously effective and consistent trick to prod the organisms to start synthesizing novel molecules: Cheerios inside bags. Scientists grew a soil fungus for four weeks in a bag full of Cheerios and discovered a new compound that can block biofilm formation by an infectious yeast. The chemists claim that Cheerios are by far the best in the cereal aisle at growing chemically productive fungi.



OS X 10.10 Yosemite Review - Fri Oct 17 14:22:28 2014

An anonymous reader writes: With the release of OS X 10.10 Yosemite, Ars Technica has posted one of their extremely thorough reviews of the OS's new features and design changes. John Siracusa writes that Yosemite is particularly notable because it's the biggest step yet in Apple's efforts to bring OS X and iOS together — new technologies are now being added to Apple's two operating systems simultaneously. "The political and technical battles inherent in the former two-track development strategy for OS X and iOS left both products with uncomfortable feature disparities. Apple now correctly views this as damage and has set forth to repair it." Yosemite's look and feel has undergone significant changes as well, generally moving toward the flat and compact design present in iOS 7 & 8. Spotlight and the Notifications Center have gotten some needed improvements, as did many tab and toolbar interfaces.

Siracusa also takes a look a Swift, Apple's new programming language: "Swift is an attempt to create a low-level language with high-level syntax and semantics. It tackles the myth of the Sufficiently Smart Compiler by signing up to create that compiler as part of the language design process." He concludes: "Viewed in isolation, Yosemite provides a graphical refresh accompanied by a few interesting features and several new technologies whose benefits are mostly speculative, depending heavily on how eagerly they're adopted by third-party developers. But Apple no longer views the Mac in isolation, and neither should you. OS X is finally a full-fledged peer to iOS; all aspects of sibling rivalry have been banished."



Mixing Agile With Waterfall For Code Quality - Fri Oct 17 13:40:14 2014

jones_supa writes: The 2014 CAST Research on Application Software Health (CRASH) report states that enterprise software built using a mixture of agile and waterfall methods will result in more robust and secure applications than those built using either agile or waterfall methods alone. Data from CAST's Appmarq benchmarking repository was analyzed to discover global trends in the structural quality of business application software. The report explores the impact of factors such as development method, CMMI maturity level, outsourcing, and other practices on software quality characteristics that are based upon good architectural and coding practices. InfoQ interviewed Bill Curtis, Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist at CAST, about the research done by CAST, structural quality factors, and mixing agile and waterfall methods.


An Air Traffic Control System For Drones - Fri Oct 17 12:54:47 2014

An anonymous reader writes: Personal drones are become more popular, and many companies are trying to figure out ways to incorporate them into their business. So what do we do in 10 years, when the skies are full of small, autonomous vehicles? NASA and a startup called Airware are working on a solution: air traffic control for drones. "The first prototype to be developed under NASA's project will be an Internet-based system. Drone operators will file flight plans for approval. The system will use what it knows about other drone flights, weather forecasts, and physical obstacles such as radio masts to give the go-ahead. Later phases of the project will build more sophisticated systems that can actively manage drone traffic by sending out commands to drones in flight. That could mean directing them to spread out when craft from multiple operators are flying in the same area, or taking action when something goes wrong, such as a drone losing contact with its operator, says Jonathan Downey, CEO of Airware. If a drone strayed out of its approved area, for example, the system might automatically send a command that made it return to its assigned area, or land immediately."


As Prison Population Sinks, Jails Are a Steal - Fri Oct 17 12:12:58 2014

HughPickens.com writes After rising rapidly for decades, the number of people behind bars peaked at 1.62 Million in 2009, has been mostly falling ever since down, and many justice experts believe the incarceration rate will continue on a downward trajectory for many years. New York, for example, saw an 8.8% decline in federal and state inmates, and California, saw a 20.6% drop. Now the WSJ reports on an awkward byproduct of the declining U.S. inmate population: empty or under-utilized prisons and jails that must be cared for but can't be easily sold or repurposed. New York state has closed 17 prisons and juvenile-justice facilities since 2011, following the rollback of the 1970s-era Rockefeller drug laws, which mandated lengthy sentences for low-level offenders. So far, the state has found buyers for 10 of them, at prices that range from less than $250,000 to about $8 million for a facility in Staten Island, often a fraction of what they cost to build. "There's a prisoner shortage," says Mike Arismendez, city manager for Littlefield, Texas, home of an empty five-building complex that sleeps 383 inmates and comes with a gym, maintenence shed, armory, and parking lot . "Everybody finds it hard to believe."

The incarceration rate is declining largely because crime has fallen significantly in the past generation. In addition, many states have relaxed harsh sentencing laws passed during the tough-on-crime 1980s and 1990s, and have backed rehabilitation programs, resulting in fewer low-level offenders being locked up. States from Michigan to New Jersey have changed parole processes, leading more prisoners to leave earlier. On a federal level, the Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder has pushed to reduce sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. Before 2010, the U.S. prison population increased every year for 30 years, from 307,276 in 1978 to a high of 1,615,487 in 2009. "This is the beginning of the end of mass incarceration," says Natasha Frost. "People don't care so much about crime, and it's less of a political focus."



Making Best Use of Data Center Space: Density Vs. Isolation - Fri Oct 17 09:32:48 2014

jfruh writes The ability to cram multiple virtual servers on a single physical computer is tempting — so tempting that many shops overlook the downsides of having so many important systems subject to a single point of physical failure. But how can you isolate your servers physically but still take up less room? Matthew Mobrea takes a look at the options, including new server platforms that offer what he calls "dense isolation."


The Guardian Reveals That Whisper App Tracks "Anonymous" Users - Fri Oct 17 07:04:52 2014

New submitter qqod writes this story at The Guardian that raises privacy concerns over the Whisper app. "The company behind Whisper, the social media app that promises users anonymity and claims to be the “the safest place on the internet”, is tracking the location of its users, including some who have specifically asked not to be followed. The practice of monitoring the whereabouts of Whisper users – including those who have expressly opted out of geolocation services – will alarm users, who are encouraged to disclose intimate details about their private and professional lives. Whisper is also sharing information with the US Department of Defense gleaned from smartphones it knows are used from military bases, and developing a version of its app to conform with Chinese censorship laws."


OpenStack Juno Released - Fri Oct 17 05:50:46 2014

darthcamaro writes The OpenStack Juno release is now generally available. This the 10th major release for the open-source cloud platform and introduces the Sahara Data Processing Service as the major new project. That's not the only new feature in Juno though, with 310 new features in total. The new features include cloud storage policy, improved IPv6 support, a rescue mode and improved multi-cloud federation capabilities."


Trans-Pacific Partnership May Endanger World Health, Newly Leaked Chapter Shows - Fri Oct 17 04:37:07 2014

blottsie writes WikiLeaks has released an updated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) chapter on intellectual property. The new version of the texts, dated May 2014, show that little improvement has been made to sections critics say would hurt free speech online. Further, some of the TPP's stipulations could have dire consequences for healthcare in developing nations. The Daily Dot reports: "Nearly all of the changes proposed by the U.S. advantage corporate entities by expanding monopolies on knowledge goods, such as drug patents, and impose restrictive copyright policies worldwide. If it came into force, TPP would even allow pharmaceutical companies to sue the U.S. whenever changes to regulatory standards or judicial decisions affected their profits. Professor Brook K. Baker of Northeastern U. School of Law [said] that the latest version of the TPP will do nothing less than lengthen, broaden, and strengthen patent monopolies on vital medications."