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Microsoft Exec Opens Up About Research Lab Closure, Layoffs

samzenpus posted 7 hours ago | from the story-behind-the-story dept.

Microsoft 36

alphadogg writes It's been a bit over a month since Microsoft shuttered its Microsoft Research lab in Silicon Valley as part of the company's broader restructuring that will include 18,000 layoffs. This week, Harry Shum, Microsoft EVP of Technology & Research, posted what he termed an "open letter to the academic research community" on the company's research blog. In the post, Shum is suitably contrite about the painful job cut decisions that were made in closing the lab, which opened in 2001. He also stresses that Microsoft will continue to invest in and value "fundamental research".

Tech Firm Fined For Paying Imported Workers $1.21 Per Hour

samzenpus posted 8 hours ago | from the was-that-wrong? dept.

Businesses 181

An anonymous reader sends in news about a company that was fined for flying in "about eight employees" from India to work 120-hour weeks for $1.21 per hour. Electronics for Imaging paid several employees from India as little as $1.21 an hour to help install computer systems at the company's Fremont headquarters, federal labor officials said Wednesday. "We are not going to tolerate this kind of behavior from employers," said Susana Blanco, district director of the U.S. Labor Department's wage and hour division in San Francisco.... An anonymous tip prompted the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate the case, which resulted in more than $40,000 in back wages paid to the eight employees and a fine of $3,500 for Electronics for Imaging.

Leaked Documents Reveal Behind-the-Scenes Ebola Vaccine Issues

timothy posted 10 hours ago | from the how-much-for-what-benefit-to-whom-with-what-certainty dept.

Medicine 89

sciencehabit writes Extensive background documents from a meeting that took place today at the World Health Organization (WHO) have provided new details about exactly what it will take to test, produce, and bankroll Ebola vaccines, which could be a potential game changer in the epidemic. ScienceInsider obtained materials that vaccinemakers, governments, and WHO provided to the 100 or so participants at a meeting on 'access and financing' of Ebola vaccines. The documents put hard numbers on what until now have been somewhat fuzzy academic discussions. And they make clear to the attendees—who include representatives from governments, industry, philanthropies, and nongovernmental organizations—that although testing and production are moving forward at record speed, knotty issues remain.

Ubuntu 14.10 Released With Ambitious Name, But Small Changes

timothy posted 11 hours ago | from the I'd-hoped-for-ubiquitous dept.

Ubuntu 86

Ubuntu 14.10, dubbed Utopic Unicorn, has been released today (here are screenshots). PC World says that at first glance "isn't the most exciting update," with not so much as a new default wallpaper — but happily so: it's a stable update in a stable series, and most users will have no pressing need to update to the newest version. In the Ubuntu Next unstable series, though, there are big changes afoot: Along with Mir comes the next version of Ubuntu’s Unity desktop, Unity 8. Mir and the latest version of Unity are already used on Ubuntu Phone, so this is key for Ubuntu's goal of convergent computing — Ubuntu Phone and Ubuntu desktop will use the same display server and desktop shell. Ubuntu Phone is now stable and Ubuntu phones are arriving this year, so a lot of work has gone into this stuff recently. The road ahead looks bumpy however. Ubuntu needs to get graphics drivers supporting Mir properly. The task becomes more complicated when you consider that other Linux distributions — like Fedora — are switching to the Wayland display server instead of Mir. When Ubuntu Desktop Next becomes the standard desktop environment, the changes will be massive indeed. But for today, Utopic Unicorn is all about subtle improvements and slow, steady iteration.

German Publishers Capitulate, Let Google Post News Snippets

timothy posted 12 hours ago | from the ja-ja-gut dept.

The Media 86

itwbennett writes German publishers said they are bowing to Google's market power, and will allow the search engine to show news snippets in search results free of charge — at least for the time being. The decision is a step in an ongoing legal dispute between the publishers and Google in which, predictably, publishers are trying to get compensation from the search engine for republishing parts of their content and Google isn't interested in sharing revenue. The move follows a Google decision earlier this month — and which was to go into effect today — to stop using news snippets and thumbnails for some well-known German news sites.

Apple 1 Sells At Auction For $905,000

timothy posted yesterday | from the hey-motherboard-problems-are-an-apple-tradition dept.

The Almighty Buck 81

Dave Knott writes One of the few remaining examples of Apple Inc's first pre-assembled computer, the Apple 1, sold for $905,000 at an auction in New York on Wednesday. The final price outstrips expectations, as auction house Bonhams had said it expected to sell the machine, which was working as of September, for between $300,000 and $500,000. The buyer was The Henry Ford organization, which plans to display the computer in its museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Only 63 surviving authentic Apple 1's were listed in an Apple 1 Registry as of January out of the 200 that were built. The auctioned computer is thought to be one of the first batch of 50 Apple-1 machines assembled by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in Steve Job's family garage in Los Altos, California in the summer of 1976. It is also believed to be one of only 15 that still have functioning motherboards. That's a bit more beastly than the original price.

Ello Formally Promises To Remain Ad-Free, Raises $5.5M

timothy posted yesterday | from the now-how-much-would-you-pay? dept.

Advertising 158

Social media site Ello is presented as the anti-Facebook, promising an ad-free social network, and that they won't sell private data. Today, they've also announced that Ello has become a Public Benefit Corporation, and that the site's anti-advertising promise has been enshrined in a corporate charter. The BBC reports on the restrictions that Ello has therefore entered into, which mean the site cannot, for monetary gain,

  1. Sell user-specific data to a third party
  2. Enter into an agreement to display paid advertising on behalf of a third party; and
  3. In the event of an acquisition or asset transfer, the Company shall require any acquiring entity to adopt these requirements with respect to the operation of Ello or its assets.

While that might turn off some potential revenue flows (the company says it will make money by selling optional features), as the linked article points out, it hasn't turned off investors; Ello has now raised $5.5 million from investors.

Proposed Penalty For UK Hackers Who "Damage National Security": Life

timothy posted yesterday | from the draconian-by-example dept.

Crime 161

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from The Guardian: Government plans that mean computer users deemed to have damaged national security, the economy or the environment will face a life sentence have been criticised by experts who warn that the new law could be used to target legitimate whistleblowers. The proposed legislation would mean that any British person deemed to have carried out an unauthorised act on a computer that resulted in damage to human welfare, the environment, the economy or national security in any country would face a possible life sentence. Last week the Joint Committee on Human Rights raised concerns about the proposals and the scope of such legislation.

U.K. Supermarkets Beta Test Full-Body 3D Scanners For Selfie Figurines

samzenpus posted yesterday | from the me-and-more-me dept.

United Kingdom 157

Lucas123 writes Walmart-owned ASDA supermarkets in the U.K. are beta testing 3D full-body scanning booths that allow patrons to buy 6-in to 9-in high "selfie" figurines. Artec Group, a maker of 3D scanners and software, said its Shapify Booth, which can scan your entire body in 12 seconds and use the resulting file to create a full-color 3D printed model, is making its U.S. debut this week. The 3D Shapify booths are equipped with four wide view, high-resolution scanners, which rotate around the person to scan every angle. Artec claims the high-powered scan and precision printing is able to capture even the smallest details, down to the wrinkles on clothes. The scanning process generates 700 captured surfaces, which are automatically stitched together to produce an electronic file ready for 3D printing. Artec offers to print the figurines for booth operators (retailers) for $50 for a 6-in model, $70 for a 7.5-in model, and $100 for a 9-in figurine.

Judge Says EA Battlefield 4 Execs Engaged In "Puffery," Not Fraud

timothy posted yesterday | from the anything-they-say-they-set-their-minds-to dept.

The Courts 91

DemonOnIce writes with a story, as reported by Ars Technica, that a federal judge in San Francisco has dismissed a proposed securities fraud class action lawsuit connected to Battlefield 4's bungled rollout. From the report: EA and several top executives were sued in December and were accused of duping investors with their public statements and concealing issues with the first-person shooter game. The suit claimed executives were painting too rosy of a picture surrounding what ultimately would be Battlefield 4's disastrous debut on various gaming consoles beginning last October, including the next-generation Xbox One. But US District Judge Susan Illston of San Francisco said their comments about EA and the first-person shooter game were essentially protected corporate speak. "The Court agrees with defendants that all of the purported misstatements are inactionable statements of opinion, corporate optimism, or puffery," Illston ruled Monday.

Shooting At Canadian Parliament

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the be-safe dept.

Canada 519

CBC reports that a man pulled up to the War Memorial in downtown Ottawa, got out of his car, and shot a soldier with a rifle. The Memorial is right next to the Canadian Parliament buildings. A shooter (reportedly the same one, but unconfirmed) also approached Parliament and got inside before he was shot and killed. "Scott Walsh, who was working on Parliament Hill, said ... the man hopped over the stone fence that surrounds Parliament Hill, with his gun forcing someone out of their car. He then drove to the front doors of Parliament and fired at least two shots, Walsh said." Canadian government officials were quickly evacuated from the building, while the search continues for further suspects. This comes a day after Canada raised its domestic terrorism threat level. Most details of the situation are still unconfirmed -- CBC has live video coverage here. They have confirmed that there was a second shooting at the Rideau Center, a shopping mall nearby.

Software Glitch Caused 911 Outage For 11 Million People

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the off-by-911-error dept.

Bug 115

HughPickens.com writes: Brian Fung reports at the Washington Post that earlier this year emergency services went dark for over six hours for more than 11 million people across seven states. "The outage may have gone unnoticed by some, but for the more than 6,000 people trying to reach help, April 9 may well have been the scariest time of their lives." In a 40-page report (PDF), the FCC found that an entirely preventable software error was responsible for causing 911 service to drop. "It could have been prevented. But it was not," the FCC's report reads. "The causes of this outage highlight vulnerabilities of networks as they transition from the long-familiar methods of reaching 911 to [Internet Protocol]-supported technologies."

On April 9, the software responsible for assigning the identifying code to each incoming 911 call maxed out at a pre-set limit; the counter literally stopped counting at 40 million calls. As a result, the routing system stopped accepting new calls, leading to a bottleneck and a series of cascading failures elsewhere in the 911 infrastructure. Adm. David Simpson, the FCC's chief of public safety and homeland security, says having a single backup does not provide the kind of reliability that is ideal for 911. "Miami is kind of prone to hurricanes. Had a hurricane come at the same time [as the multi-state outage], we would not have had that failover, perhaps. So I think there needs to be more [distribution of 911 capabilities]."

DHS Investigates 24 Potentially Lethal IoT Medical Devices

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the but-they're-fine-with-mcdonald's-so-don't-get-your-hopes-up dept.

Medicine 77

An anonymous reader writes: In the wake of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's recent recommendations to strengthen security on net-connected medical devices, the Department of Homeland Security is launching an investigation into 24 cases of potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities in hospital equipment and personal medical devices. Independent security researcher Billy Rios submitted proof-of-concept evidence to the FDA indicating that it would be possible for a hacker to force infusion pumps to fatally overdose a patient. Though the complete range of devices under investigation has not been disclosed, it is reported that one of them is an "implantable heart device." William Maisel, chief scientist at the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said, "The conventional wisdom in the past was that products only had to be protected from unintentional threats. Now they also have to be protected from intentional threats too."

Hungary To Tax Internet Traffic

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the how-to-kill-your-youtube-habit dept.

The Internet 323

An anonymous reader writes: The Hungarian government has announced a new tax on internet traffic: 150 HUF ($0.62 USD) per gigabyte. In Hungary, a monthly internet subscription costs around 4,000-10,000 HUF ($17-$41), so it could really put a constraint on different service providers, especially for streaming media. This kind of tax could set back the country's technological development by some 20 years — to the pre-internet age. As a side note, the Hungarian government's budget is running at a serious deficit. The internet tax is officially expected to bring in about 20 billion HUF in income, though a quick look at the BIX (Budapest Internet Exchange) and a bit of math suggests a better estimate of the income would probably be an order of magnitude higher.

Xerox Alto Source Code Released To Public

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the history-revealed dept.

Software 121

zonker writes: In 1970, the Xerox Corporation established the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) with the goal to develop an "architecture of information" and lay the groundwork for future electronic office products. The pioneering Alto project that began in 1972 invented or refined many of the fundamental hardware and software ideas upon which our modern devices are based, including raster displays, mouse pointing devices, direct-manipulation user interfaces, windows and menus, the first WYSIWYG word processor, and Ethernet.

The first Altos were built as research prototypes. By the fall of 1976 PARC's research was far enough along that a Xerox product group started to design products based on their prototypes. Ultimately, ~1,500 were built and deployed throughout the Xerox Corporation, as well as at universities and other sites. The Alto was never sold as a product but its legacy served as inspiration for the future.

With the permission of the Palo Alto Research Center, the Computer History Museum is pleased to make available, for non-commercial use only, snapshots of Alto source code, executables, documentation, font files, and other files from 1975 to 1987. The files are organized by the original server on which they resided at PARC that correspond to files that were restored from archive tapes. An interesting look at retro-future.

Ask Slashdot: Aging and Orphan Open Source Projects?

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the try-craigslist dept.

Open Source 142

osage writes: Several colleagues and I have worked on an open source project for over 20 years under a corporate aegis. Though nothing like Apache, we have a sizable user community and the software is considered one of the de facto standards for what it does. The problem is that we have never been able to attract new, younger programmers, and members of the original set have been forced to find jobs elsewhere or are close to retirement. The corporation has no interest in supporting the software. Thus, in the near future, the project will lose its web site host and be devoid of its developers and maintainers. Our initial attempts to find someone to adopt the software haven't worked. We are looking for suggestions as to what course to pursue. We can't be the only open source project in this position.

Isaac Asimov: How Do People Get New Ideas?

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the picked-from-the-new-idea-tree dept.

Editorial 146

HughPickens.com writes: Arthur Obermayer, a friend of the Isaac Asimov, writes that he recently rediscovered an unpublished essay by Asimov written in 1959 while cleaning out some old files. Obermayer says it is "as broadly relevant today as when he wrote it. It describes not only the creative process and the nature of creative people but also the kind of environment that promotes creativity." Here's an excerpt from Asimov's essay, which is well worth reading in its entirety:

"A person willing to fly in the face of reason, authority, and common sense must be a person of considerable self-assurance. Since he occurs only rarely, he must seem eccentric (in at least that respect) to the rest of us. A person eccentric in one respect is often eccentric in others. Probably more inhibiting than anything else is a feeling of responsibility. The great ideas of the ages have come from people who weren't paid to have great ideas, but were paid to be teachers or patent clerks or petty officials, or were not paid at all. The great ideas came as side issues."

Cell Transplant Allows Paralyzed Man To Walk

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the saved-by-a-nose dept.

Medicine 160

New submitter tiberus sends word of a breakthrough medical treatment that has restored the ability to walk to a man who was paralyzed from the chest down after his spinal cord was severed in a knife attack. A research team from the UK, led by Professor Geoff Raisman, transplanted cells from the patient's nose, along with strips of nerve tissue from his ankle, to the place where the spine was severed. This allowed the fibers in the spinal cord to gradually reconnect. The treatment used olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) - specialist cells that form part of the sense of smell. ... In the first of two operations, surgeons removed one of the patient's olfactory bulbs and grew the cells in culture. Two weeks later they transplanted the OECs into the spinal cord, which had been cut through in the knife attack apart from a thin strip of scar tissue on the right. They had just a drop of material to work with - about 500,000 cells. About 100 micro-injections of OECs were made above and below the injury. Four thin strips of nerve tissue were taken from the patient's ankle and placed across an 8mm (0.3in) gap on the left side of the cord. ... Two years after the treatment, he can now walk outside the rehabilitation center using a frame.

Speed Cameras In Chicago Earn $50M Less Than Expected

timothy posted 2 days ago | from the short-term-memory dept.

Privacy 394

countach44 writes that (in the words of the below-linked article) "Chicagoans are costing the city tens of millions of dollars — through good behavior." The City of Chicago recently installed speed cameras near parks and schools as part of the "Children's Safety Zone Program," claiming a desire to decrease traffic-related incidents in those area. The city originally budgeted (with the help of the company providing the system) to have $90M worth of income from the cameras — of which only $40M is now expected. Furthermore, the city has not presented data on whether or not those areas have become safer.

Facebook To DEA: Stop Using Phony Profiles To Nab Criminals

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the do-that-with-linkedin-like-everyone-else dept.

Facebook 238

HughPickens.com writes: CNNMoney reports that Facebook has sent a letter to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration demanding that agents stop impersonating users on the social network. "The DEA's deceptive actions... threaten the integrity of our community," Facebook chief security officer Joe Sullivan wrote to DEA head Michele Leonhart. "Using Facebook to impersonate others abuses that trust and makes people feel less safe and secure when using our service." Facebook's letter comes on the heels of reports that the DEA impersonated a young woman on Facebook to communicate with suspected criminals, and the Department of Justice argued that they had the right to do so. Facebook contends that their terms and Community Standards — which the DEA agent had to acknowledge and agree to when registering for a Facebook account — expressly prohibit the creation and use of fake accounts. "Isn't this the definition of identity theft?" says privacy researcher Runa Sandvik. The DEA has declined to comment and referred all questions to the Justice Department, which has not returned CNNMoney's calls.

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