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Ten States Pass Anti-Patent-Troll Laws, With More To Come

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the get-under-the-bridge dept.

Government 64

An anonymous reader writes "With patent reform stalled in the Senate, many states have decided to take up the issue themselves. 'As states kicked off their legislative sessions this winter, lawmakers responded to the threats against small businesses by writing bills that would ban "bad faith patent assertions" as a violation of consumer-protection laws. The bills target a specific type of patent troll: the kind that sends out vaguely worded letters demanding licensing fees. The thousands of letters sent out by the "scanner trolls" at MPHJ Technology are often brought up as a case-in-point. The new laws allow trolls that break rules around letter-writing to be sued in state court, either by private companies they've approached for licensing fees, or by state authorities themselves.'"

New Tech Super PACs Could Tap Into Google Riches

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the pot-of-gold dept.

The Almighty Buck 52

An anonymous reader writes "A for-profit university bankrolled by prominent tech firms and co-founded by futurist Ray Kurzweil is behind four separate super PACs formed this week, according to interviews and documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. Randi Willis, an official at Singularity University, confirmed to the Center for Public Integrity that leaders at her institution will later this year begin determining how to best use these new political committees, which could tap into the wealth of tech industry titans."

Could High Bay-Area Prices Make Sacramento the Next Big Startup Hub?

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the cost-of-living-is-important dept.

United States 190

waderoush (1271548) writes "Don't laugh. As the cost of housing spirals out of control on the San Francisco peninsula, neighboring metro regions like Sacramento are beginning to look more attractive to startup founders who prefer a Northern California lifestyle but haven't worked in the Silicon Valley gold mines long enough to become 1-percenters. Today Xconomy presents Part 1 of a two-part look at innovation in the Sacramento-Davis corridor and efforts to make the region more welcoming to high-tech entrepreneurs. In Sacramento's favor, there's a talented workforce fueled by a top-20 university (UC Davis), space for expansion, proximity to the ski mountains at Tahoe, and a far lower cost of living — the average house in Sacramento is selling for $237,000, compared to $909,000 in San Francisco. The downsides include a shortage of local investment dollars and a lower density of startups, meaning there's less opportunity for serendipitous collaboration. But locals say recent efforts to boost the local high-tech economy are working. 'I really feel like we are in a renaissance area,' says Eric Ullrich, co-founder of Hacker Lab, a Midtown Sacramento co-working space."

FCC Votes To Consider Next Round of 'Net Neutrality' Rules

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the double-secret-prohibited dept.

The Internet 182

As you may have watched live earlier today, the FCC in a protester-heavy hearing has voted to formally consider a net neutrality proposal. The linked L.A. Times story says the 3-2 vote of the commissioners represents a victory for FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler: 'A Democrat who took over in November, Wheeler triggered outrage among public interest groups, online activists and many liberals with a plan that would for the first time allow the possibility of so-called pay-for-priority deals. Wheeler said his plan has been misconstrued and that it would not allow broadband providers to block any legal content or slow down connections in a way that is commercially unreasonable.' As the Washington Post points out, the phrase "commercially unreasonable" is a loaded one. More good coverage at Ars Technica, too.

Unlock Your Android Phone With Open Source Wearable NFC

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the now-attach-it-to-your-gun dept.

Hardware Hacking 81

coop0030 (263345) writes "Becky Stern at Adafruit has created a guide on how to create an open source NFC ring or other wearable to mod and unlock your Android phone. From the tutorial: 'Unlock your phone by just picking it up! No more pesky password or gesture PIN, just scan an NFC tag! This guide covers creating an NFC ring, putting an NFC tag in your nail polish, modding your Android installation to read tags from the lockscreen, and creating an automation toolchain to unlock the phone when the desired tag is scanned.' There is also a video that demonstrates how it works."

Why Should Red Hat Support Competitors' Software?

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the just-for-fun-vs-bottom-line-reality dept.

Red Hat Software 111

colinneagle (2544914) writes "The Wall Street Journal recently reported that, based on documents it reviewed, Red Hat "has chosen not to provide support to its commercial Linux customers if they use rival versions of OpenStack." But the big question is: Why would customers have expected that in the first place? Gartner analyst Lydia Leong told Network World that Red Hat isn't really doing anything wrong here. Customers shouldn't have an expectation that Red Hat would support competitors' software. "The norm would be to expect that non-Red Hat software is treated like any other third-party software," Leong says. If Red Hat has done anything wrong, it's that it has not clearly articulated its positioning and support for non-Red Hat OpenStack distros. Red Hat did not immediately respond to a question asking for a clarification on its support policy. The complication in all this comes from the fact that OpenStack is an open source project and there are misconceived notions that all OpenStack clouds are interoperable with one another. But Leong says just because OpenStack is open source doesn't change the expectations around vendors supporting competitors' products."

Watch the FCC Vote On Net Neutrality Live At 10:30am Eastern

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the now-now-now dept.

Government 90

New submitter giltwist (1313107) writes "Very shortly, the FCC will begin its vote on proceeding 14-28 regarding Chairman Wheeler's highly contentious Net Neutrality proceeding. Senator Al Franken called Net Neutrality the free speech issue of our time. The vote begins at 10:30am Eastern time today. Make sure to watch it live at the FCC's live stream." "A particularly full agenda" is right; it's a rambunctious crowd, too.

Autodesk Unveils 3d Printer As It Aims To Become Industry's Android

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the spread-the-wealth dept.

Open Source 85

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "BBC reports that Autodesk — the leading 3D modelling software-maker — is going into hardware with its own 3D printer and in addition to selling the machine, Autodesk will also allow other manufacturers to make their own versions of the printer or power their own models off its software at no cost. 'The printer is a bona fide attempt to prove the interoperability and open source nature of Autodesk's platform,' says Pete Basiliere. 'And by sharing its design we could see a second wave of small start-ups creating stereolithography machines just as the makers did when the early material extrusion patents expired.' Chief executive Carl Bass likened the new printer to Google's first Nexus smartphone, a product meant to inspire other manufacturers to install Android on their handsets rather than become a bestseller itself. In Autodesk's case the idea is to drive the adoption of its new Spark software, a product it likens to being an 'operating system for 3D-printing'. Although Autodesk is giving away both Spark and the printer's design, the company should still profit because the move would drive demand for the firm's other products. 'If 3D printing succeeds we succeed, because the only way you can print is if you have a 3D model, and our customers are the largest makers of 3D models in the world.'

Instead of the extrusion technique most commonly used by existing budget printers, Autodesk's printer uses a laser to harden liquid plastic to create the objects delivering smoother, more complex and more detailed objects. 'We're making a printer that, rather than just being able to load in proprietary materials, you can load in any material you want. You can formulate your own polymers and experiment with those. That's an important next step because we think material science is a breakthrough that has to happen to make [the industry] go from low-volume 3D-printed stuff to where it really starts changing manufacturing.' Bass said, its printer is targeted at more professional users–for creating small objects like medical devices or jewelry–and will likely end up closer to the $5,000 range, though exact pricing has not been set."

Air Force Prepares to Dismantle HAARP

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the so-long-farewell dept.

United States 178

First time accepted submitter registrations_suck (1075251) writes in with news about the dismantling of the HAARP project. The U.S. Air Force gave official notice to Congress Wednesday that it intends to dismantle the $300 million High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program in Gakona this summer. The shutdown of HAARP, a project created by the late Sen. Ted Stevens when he wielded great control over the U.S. defense budget, will start after a final research experiment takes place in mid-June, the Air Force said in a letter to Congress Tuesday. While the University of Alaska has expressed interest in taking over the research site, which is off the Tok Cutoff, in an area where black spruce was cleared a quarter-century ago for the Air Force Backscatter radar project that was never completed. But the school has not volunteered to pay $5 million a year to run HAARP. Responding to questions from Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski during a Senate hearing Wednesday, David Walker, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology and Engineering, said this is 'not an area that we have any need for in the future' and it would not be a good use of Air Force research funds to keep HAARP going. 'We're moving on to other ways of managing the ionosphere, which the HAARP was really designed to do,' he said. 'To inject energy into the ionosphere to be able to actually control it. But that work has been completed.' Comments of that sort have given rise to endless conspiracy theories, portraying HAARP as a super weapon capable of mind control or weather control, with enough juice to trigger hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes."

Orca Identified As 103 Years Old

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the looking-goog-for-her-age dept.

Canada 194

guises (2423402) writes "The oldest known orca has recently been spotted off western Canada at an age of 103. A female nicknamed 'granny,' photos exist of her from the 1930s, where she can be identified by her distinctive saddle patch. The news has prompted calls for another evaluation of marine mammals in captivity — orcas in captivity usually don't live beyond their 20s."

US College Students Still Aren't All That Interested In Computer Science

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the you-fail-it dept.

Education 306

itwbennett (1594911) writes "Despite the hot job market and competitive salaries, the share of Computer Science degrees as a percentage of BA degrees has remained essentially unchanged since 1981, according to data from the National Center for Educational Statistics' Digest of Educational Statistics. If history is any indication, it will take a cultural phenomenon to shift the percentage higher: Blogger Phil Johnson point out that there were 'two distinct peaks, one in 1985 (4.4% of U.S. college degrees) and one in 2002 (4.42%). These would represent big increases for the classes entering school in 1981 and 1998 respectively. The former year corresponds to the beginning of computers coming into the home and the release of things like MS-DOS 1.0, all of which may have increased interest in programming. The latter year was during the dot com bubble, which, no doubt, also boosted interest.'"

Federal Car Fleet To Become Test Bed For High-Tech Safety Gear

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the don't-crash-on-me dept.

Transportation 24

coondoggie (973519) writes "Future autos leased by the federal government will be equipped with some advanced high-tech safety technology in an effort to test the equipment in real-life situations. The General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said they would team up on the program to further develop high-tech driver and vehicle safety technology."

Game Industry Fights Rising Development Costs

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the we-must-teach-computers-to-make-art dept.

The Almighty Buck 111

An anonymous reader writes "Video game development budgets have been rising for years, and the recent launch of a new generation of consoles has only made it worse. Developers of AAA titles are now fighting to keep costs manageable while providing the technological advances gamers have come to expect. Just a few years ago, budgets ranging above $100 million were considered absurd, but now Activision is committing $500 million to a new IP from the studio that created Halo. Alan Roberts, technical director for Playground Games, says development teams keep expanding: 'Our in-house development team is roughly 20 per cent bigger than it was on last-gen, but we're doing even more with outsourcers this time in order to create content to the level of detail required by new generation games.' He adds that one way studios are trying to defray costs is to put more effort into building great tools for content creators."

Humans Causing California's Mountains To Grow

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the not-just-for-evil-masterminds-anymore dept.

Earth 36

New submitter Megan Sever writes: "This is a cool story about anthropogenic effects of water withdrawal moving mountains — literally. According to new research published today (abstract) and reported in EARTH Magazine, humans have been causing the Sierra Nevada mountains to rise. By withdrawing water for irrigation and other purposes, we have inadvertently removed water from the mountains, allowing them to uplift. The research shows a seasonal and annual cycle."

Game of Thrones Author George R R Martin Writes with WordStar on DOS

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the change-is-scary dept.

Books 522

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Ryan Reed reports that when most Game of Thrones fans imagine George R.R. Martin writing his epic fantasy novels, they probably picture the author working on a futuristic desktop (or possibly carving his words onto massive stones like the Ten Commandments). But the truth is that Martin works on an outdated DOS machine using '80s word processor WordStar 4.0, as he revealed during an interview on Conan. 'I actually like it,' says Martin. 'It does everything I want a word processing program to do, and it doesn't do anything else. I don't want any help. I hate some of these modern systems where you type a lower case letter and it becomes a capital letter. I don't want a capital. If I wanted a capital, I would have typed a capital. I know how to work the shift key.' 'I actually have two computers,' Martin continued. 'I have a computer I browse the Internet with and I get my email on, and I do my taxes on. And then I have my writing computer, which is a DOS machine, not connected to the Internet.'"

Samsung Apologizes For Workers' Leukemia

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the some-jobs-are-really-awful dept.

News 150

itwbennett writes: "In an emailed statement, Samsung offered its 'sincerest apology' for the sickness and deaths of some of its workers, vowing to compensate those affected and their families. So far there have been 26 reported victims of blood cancers who worked in Samsung's Gi-Heung and On-Yang semiconductor plants. Ten have died. Other alleged workplace-related illnesses include miscarriages, infertility, hair loss, blood disorders, kidney troubles and liver disease."

How Firefox Will Handle DRM In HTML

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the backed-into-a-corner dept.

Firefox 361

An anonymous reader writes "Last year the W3C approved the inclusion of DRM in future HTML revisions. It's called Encrypted Media Extensions, and it was not well received by the web community. Nevertheless, it had the support of several major browser makers, and now Mozilla CTO Andreas Gal has a post explaining how Firefox will be implementing EME. He says, 'This is a difficult and uncomfortable step for us given our vision of a completely open Web, but it also gives us the opportunity to actually shape the DRM space and be an advocate for our users and their rights in this debate. ... From the security perspective, for Mozilla it is essential that all code in the browser is open so that users and security researchers can see and audit the code. DRM systems explicitly rely on the source code not being available. In addition, DRM systems also often have unfavorable privacy properties. ... Firefox does not load this module directly. Instead, we wrap it into an open-source sandbox. In our implementation, the CDM will have no access to the user's hard drive or the network. Instead, the sandbox will provide the CDM only with communication mechanism with Firefox for receiving encrypted data and for displaying the results.'"

The Fight To Uncover Spyware Exports To Repressive Regimes

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the virtual-arms-deals dept.

Security 36

Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes with news that we may soon learn which countries were sold the FinFisher malware package to spy on their own citizens. "The UK's High Court ruled yesterday that HM Revenue and Customs acted 'unlawfully' when it declined to detail how it was investigating the export of digital spy tools created by a British company. Human rights group Privacy International is celebrating the decision of Mr. Justice Green, which means HMRC now has to reconsider releasing information on its investigation into controls surrounding the export of malware known as FinFisher, created by British supplier Gamma International. The widespread FinFisher malware family, also known as FinSpy, can carry out a range of surveillance operations, from snooping on Skype and Facebook conversations to siphoning off emails or files sitting on a device. It is supposed to benefit law enforcement in their investigations, but has allegedly been found in various nations with poor human rights records, including Bahrain and Ethiopia."

Zuckerberg's $100 Million Education Gift Solved Little

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the if-at-first-you-don't-succeed dept.

Education 335

An anonymous reader writes "In 2010 the state of public education in Newark, New Jersey was dire. The city's school system was a disaster, replete with violence, run-down buildings, and a high-school graduation rate of only 54%. Newark's mayor at the time, Cory Booker, teamed up with governor Chris Christie to turn the schools around. At the same time, Mark Zuckerberg was looking to get his feet wet in big-time philanthropy. The three hatched a plan, and Zuckerberg committed $100 million to reforming the schools. Four years later, most of the money is gone, and Newark's children are still struggling. Tens of millions were spent on consulting groups, and yet more went to union negotiations. Plans to change how teacher seniority affected staffing decisions — in order to reward results rather than persistence — were dashed by political maneuvering. The New Yorker provides a detailed account in a lengthy piece of investigative journalism, and MSN provides a summary."

5-Year-Old Linux Kernel Bug Fixed

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the must-have-been-union dept.

Bug 127

rastos1 sends in a report about a significant bug fix for the Linux kernel (CVE-2014-0196). "'The memory-corruption vulnerability, which was introduced in version 2.6.31-rc3, released no later than 2009, allows unprivileged users to crash or execute malicious code on vulnerable systems, according to the notes accompanying proof-of-concept code available here. The flaw resides in the n_tty_write function controlling the Linux pseudo tty device. 'This is the first serious privilege escalation vulnerability since the perf_events issue (CVE-2013-2049) in April 2013 that is potentially reliably exploitable, is not architecture or configuration dependent, and affects a wide range of Linux kernels (since 2.6.31),' Dan Rosenberg, a senior security researcher at Azimuth Security, told Ars in an e-mail. 'A bug this serious only comes out once every couple years.' ... While the vulnerability can be exploited only by someone with an existing account, the requirement may not be hard to satisfy in hosting facilities that provide shared servers, Rosenberg said."

The Foundry Will Soon be a Makerspace in Bellingham, Washington (Video)

Roblimo posted about 6 months ago | from the maybe-one-day-we'll-have-4-D-printing-from-recycled-quantum-plastic dept.

Education 35

The Foundry has people, tools, machines, and a place to operate. The only thing it lacks is insurance, and insurance is a problem because Chief Creative person Mary Keane's vision for The Foundry includes children instead of limiting membership and machine use to people over 18. Other makerspaces have managed to allow children, so it's likely that Mary will find appropriate insurance before long and get the doors open. Besides being a creative space for children, not just adults, Mary is excited about having The Foundry use recycled plastics in its 3-D printers, which hardly any makerspaces do right now, although many are surely interested in this way to lessen their impact on the Earth. (Alternate Video Link)

Journalist vs. the Syrian Electronic Army

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the place-your-wagers-now dept.

Security 43

New submitter Drunkulus writes "Journalist Ira Winkler has an article about his personal run-in with the Syrian Electronic Army. While admitting that the SEA has succeeded in hijacking the Wall Street Journal's Twitter accounts and defacing the RSA conference website, he calls them immature, inept script kiddies in this Computerworld column. Quoting: 'These people purport to be servants of the genocidal dictator of Syria and came together to support him, but they wasted their hack on what amounted to cyberbullying. This is not behavior that the SEA's Syrian intelligence handlers would condone. The SEA wasted an opportunity to promote its message, while divulging previously unknown attack vectors. ... I don't think that sort of immaturity will go over well with the SEA's Syrian intelligence bosses. And that could have implications for the influence of the group in the future.'"

Why Mobile Wallets Are Doomed

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the all-about-the-mobile-benjamins dept.

The Almighty Buck 272

redletterdave writes: "The other shoe has dropped for Square. The once-hyped mobile payments company is killing off its Wallet payments app and replacing it with a new app called Order, which will allow users to order food and beverages ahead of time at their favorite cafes and restaurants. For entrepreneurs, the concept of a mobile wallet seems so logical that the payments industry looks like it's ripe for disruption. If everybody is always carrying around a powerful computer in their pockets, it's natural to consider loading payment information onto that secure device as an alternative to cash or plastic cards. The problem comes when this logical entrepreneurial spirit merges with an industry segment that is classically illogical. The payments system in the United States is a mess of entrenched interests, fragmented business opportunities, old infrastructure (like point-of-sale systems), back room handshakes and cut throat competition. This behavior is not going to change any time soon, which means mobile wallets like Square are going to continue to struggle — at least until a more legitimate, easy-to-use and cost-effective solution comes along."

H.R. Giger, Alien Artist and Designer, Dead at Age 74

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the rest-in-peace dept.

Movies 92

M3.14 writes: "H. R. Giger, the Swiss artist and designer of Ridley Scott's Alien, has died, aged 74. Hans Rudolf 'Ruedi' Giger sustained injuries caused by a fall, Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung has reported (link in German — English summary available). The terrifying creature and sets he created for Ridley Scott's film earned him an Oscar for special effects in 1980. In the art world, Giger is appreciated for his wide body of work in the fantastic realism and surrealistic genres. Film work was just one of his talents. Giger is also known for his sculptures, paintings and furniture. The H.R. Giger Museum, inaugurated in the summer of 1998 in the Château St. Germain, is a four-level building complex in the historic, medieval walled city of Gruyères. It is the permanent home to many of the artist's most prominent works."

Russia Bans US Use of Its Rocket Engines For Military Launches

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the escalating-the-situation-by-not-allowing-escalation dept.

Space 522

schwit1 sends word that Russia will now ban U.S. military satellite launches using Russian-made rockets. According to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, this is retaliation for U.S. sanctions on high-tech items, put in place because of the dispute in the Ukraine. Rogozin also threatened to block U.S. plans to keep using the International Space Station beyond its 2020 mission end date. That's not all: 'Rogozin also said Russia will suspend the operation of GPS satellite navigation system sites in Russia from June and seek talks with Washington on opening similar sites in the United States for Russia's own system, Glonass. He threatened the permanent closure of the GPS sites in Russia if that is not agreed by September.'

Oil Man Proposes Increase In Oklahoma Oil-and-Gas Tax

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the we're-passing-it-downstream-anyway dept.

The Almighty Buck 182

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Daniel Gilbert reports at the WSJ that Oklahoma oil man George Kaiser is breaking with fellow energy executives in asking the state to raise taxes on oil companies, including his own. 'Oklahoma is in desperate financial circumstances,' says the billionaire who controls Kaiser-Francis Oil Co. Kaiser says a higher tax on oil-and-gas production could help the state pay for education and much needed infrastructure improvements, and is asking legislators to return the state's gross production tax to 7 percent, challenging a plan proposed by fellow oil company executives who want to see the rate settle at 2 percent for the first four years of production.

Several energy companies and the State Chamber of Oklahoma say that lower tax rates for the costliest oil and gas wells are necessary to continue drilling at a pace that has stimulated economic activity and created other sources of revenue. Berry Mullennix, CEO at Tulsa-based Panther Energy, credits the tax program for helping his company grow to more than 90 employees, up from 18 a few years ago. 'I would argue the tax incentive is a direct reason we have so much horizontal drilling in the state today,' Mullennix says ... When companies decide to drill a well, they make their best guesses on how much it will cost to drill the well, how much the well will produce and what the commodity price will be. All of those estimates can vary widely, Kaiser says. 'With ad valorem taxes, the difference among states is 2 or 3 or 4 percent. The other factors can vary by 50 or 100 percent.' Compared with those other factors, Kaiser says the tax rate is incidental. 'It's a rounding error.'"

Canadian Teen Arrested For Calling In 30+ Swattings, Bomb Threats

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the stick-to-trolling-the-internet dept.

Crime 350

tsu doh nimh (609154) writes "A 16-year-old male from Ottawa, Canada has been arrested for allegedly making at least 30 fraudulent callsincluding bomb threats and 'swattings' — to emergency services across North America over the past few months. Canadian media isn't identifying the youth because of laws that prevent the disclosure, but the alleged perpetrator was outed in a dox on Pastebin that was picked up by journalist Brian Krebs, who was twice the recipient of attempted swat raids at the hand of this kid. From the story: 'I told this user privately that targeting an investigative reporter maybe wasn't the brightest idea, and that he was likely to wind up in jail soon. But @ProbablyOnion was on a roll: That same day, he hung out his for-hire sign on Twitter, with the following message: "want someone swatted? Tweet me their name, address and I'll make it happen."'"

What Caused a 1300-Year Deep Freeze?

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the should-have-discovered-coal-earlier dept.

Earth 258

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Things were looking up for Earth about 12,800 years ago. The last Ice Age was coming to an end, mammoths and other large mammals romped around North America, and humans were beginning to settle down and cultivate wild plants. Then, suddenly, the planet plunged into a deep freeze, returning to near-glacial temperatures for more than a millennium before getting warm again. The mammoths disappeared at about the same time, as did a major Native American culture that thrived on hunting them. A persistent band of researchers has blamed this apparent disaster on the impact of a comet or asteroid, but a new study concludes that the real explanation for the chill, at least, may lie strictly with Earth-bound events."

How To Approve the Use of Open Source On the Job

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the who-can-we-sue dept.

Businesses 123

New submitter Czech37 (918252) writes "If you work in an organization that isn't focused on development, where computer systems are used to support other core business functions, getting management buy-in for the use of open source can be tricky. Here's how an academic librarian negotiated with his management to get them to give open source software a try, and the four phrases he recommends you avoid using." "Open Source," "Free [Software]," "Contribute," and "Development" appear to scare managers away.

Lectures Aren't Just Boring, They're Ineffective, Too, Study Finds

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the stop-talking dept.

Education 166

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Are your lectures droning on? Change it up every 10 minutes with more active teaching techniques and more students will succeed, researchers say. A new study finds that undergraduate students in classes with traditional stand-and-deliver lectures are 1.5 times more likely to fail than students in classes that use more stimulating, so-called active learning methods."

Glenn Greenwald: How the NSA Tampers With US Made Internet Routers

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the try-it-now dept.

United States 347

Bob9113 (14996) writes "According to Glenn Greenwald, reporting in The Guardian: 'A June 2010 report from the head of the NSA's Access and Target Development department is shockingly explicit. The NSA routinely receives – or intercepts – routers, servers, and other computer network devices being exported from the US before they are delivered to the international customers. The agency then implants backdoor surveillance tools, repackages the devices with a factory seal, and sends them on. The NSA thus gains access to entire networks and all their users. The document gleefully observes that some "SIGINT tradecraft is very hands-on (literally!)".'"

The Mifos Project Makes Software To 'Accelerate Microfinance' (Video)

Roblimo posted about 6 months ago | from the sometimes-little-things-can-help-as-much-as-big-ones dept.

Open Source 39

You think you have problems getting a bank loan? It's much harder for a small-town woman in Uganda or India. But Indian microfinance provider ASOMI has more than 50 branches and over 40,000 clients, and is an active Mifos user. The loans ASOMI makes are absurdly small by U.S. bank (or Indian bank) standards. Ugandans in the same "I just need a little bit of money to start (or expand) my business" predicament can turn to RedMutual Microfinance. And so on around the world, with the bulk of microfinance operators who use open source Mifos concentrated in S. and S.E. Asia and India. "But," you say, "I'm an IT person. I don't want to go into the microfinance business, and one of the little loans (often less than $100) they deal with wouldn't help me." True. But you can become a Mifos Specialist, which Mifos defines as "a consulting firm that provides technical support and consultation for microfinance institutions evaluating and deploying Mifos, and for ongoing use and customization." You won't get rich doing this, but it looks like there's a decent living (by Kenyan or Indonesian standards) in working with Mifos. They can use volunteer help, too. So check out Mifos and see if it has anything to offer you -- or if you have anything to offer Mifos. Either way, you can help poor people in poor countries become entrepreneurs and break the cycle of poverty that holds them down. (Alternate video link)

Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans As Antarctic Ice Melts

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.

Earth 784

mdsolar (1045926) writes "The collapse of large parts of the ice sheet in West Antarctica appears to have begun and is almost certainly unstoppable, with global warming accelerating the pace of the disintegration, two groups of scientists reported Monday. The finding, which had been feared by some scientists for decades, means that a rise in global sea level of at least 10 feet may now be inevitable. The rise may continue to be relatively slow for at least the next century or so, the scientists said, but sometime after that it will probably speed up so sharply as to become a crisis."

HP Joins OpenDaylight Project

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the join-the-gang dept.

Open Source 37

Mcusanelli (3564469) writes "HP has become the most recent platinum member of OpenDaylight, the open source software-defined networking (SDN) project sponsored by the Linux Foundation. From the article: 'The Linux Foundation, which sponsors OpenDaylight as a collaborative project, is welcoming the addition of HP to the line-up of vendors helping to lead OpenDaylight -- which already includes Brocade, Cisco, Citrix, Ericsson, IBM, Juniper, Microsoft and Red Hat as platinum members -- as a sign of industry convergence around OpenDaylight as the SDN platform of choice. "We are seeing all the major players aligning their SDN strategies around OpenDaylight. HP will be another galvanizing force for the project and industry, bringing the spirit of partnership and collaboration that has made them so successful," Neela Jacques, executive director, OpenDaylight, said in a statement.'"

Plaintiff In Tech Hiring Suit Asks Judge To Reject Settlement

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the not-so-fast dept.

The Courts 215

An anonymous reader writes with news that Michael Devine, one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit accusing tech firms including Apple and Google of conspiring to keep salaries low, has asked the court to reject a $324 million settlement. "Apple has more than $150 billion in the bank, eclipsing the combined cash reserves of Israel and Britain. Google, Intel and Adobe have a total of about $80 billion stored up for a rainy day. Against such tremendous cash hoards, $324 million is chump change. But that is what the four technology companies have agreed to pay to settle a class action brought by their own employees. The suit, which was on track to go to trial in San Jose, Calif., at the end of May, promised weeks if not months of damaging revelations about how Silicon Valley executives conspired to suppress wages and limit competition. Details of the settlement are still under wraps. 'The class wants a chance at real justice,' he wrote. 'We want our day in court.' He noted that the settlement amount was about one-tenth of the estimated $3 billion lost in compensation by the 64,000 class members. In a successful trial, antitrust laws would triple that sum. 'As an analogy,' Mr. Devine wrote, 'if a shoplifter is caught on video stealing a $400 iPad from the Apple Store, would a fair and just resolution be for the shoplifter to pay Apple $40, keep the iPad, and walk away with no record or admission of wrongdoing? Of course not.' 'If the other class members join me in opposition, I believe we will be successful in convincing the court to give us our due process,' Mr. Devine said in an interview on Sunday. He has set up a website, Tech Worker Justice, and is looking for legal representation. Any challenge will take many months. The other three class representatives could not be reached for comment over the weekend."

FCC Chairman Will Reportedly Revise Broadband Proposal

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the new-plan dept.

United States 105

An anonymous reader writes "FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said he will revise proposed rules for regulating broadband Internet, and is offering assurances that the agency won't allow companies to segregate Web traffic into fast and slow lanes. From the article: 'The new language by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to be circulated as early as Monday is an attempt to address criticism of his proposal unveiled last month that would ban broadband providers from blocking or slowing down websites but allow them to strike deals in which content companies could pay them for faster delivery of Web content to customers.'"

Brazilian Kids Learning English By Video Chatting With Elderly Americans

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the back-in-my-day dept.

United States 147

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Tim Nudd writes that it's the perfect match: Young Brazilians want to learn English. Elderly Americans living in retirement homes just want someone to talk to. Why not connect them? The advertising company FCB Brazil did just that with its 'Speaking Exchange' project for CNA language schools where young Brazilians and older Americans connect via Web chats, and they not only begin to share a language—they develop relationships that enrich both sides culturally and emotionally. 'The goal of the Speaking Exchange project is to transform lives,' says Luciana Fortuna. 'Our students have the opportunity to practice English with people who are willing to listen. During the chat sessions, the students discuss ideas and information from their lives in Brazil with the American senior citizens, many of whom have never had contact with anyone from Brazil before.' The pilot project was implemented at a CNA school in Liberdade, Brazil, and the Windsor Park Retirement Community in Chicago. The conversations are recorded and uploaded as private YouTube videos for the teachers to evaluate the students' development. 'The idea is simple and it's a win-win proposition for both the students and the American senior citizens. It's exciting to see their reactions and contentment. It truly benefits both sides,' says Joanna Monteiro."

Harvard Study Links Neonicotinoid Pesticide To Colony Collapse Disorder

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-bees? dept.

Earth 217

walterbyrd (182728) writes in with news about a new study from Harvard School of Public Health that links two widely used neonicotinoids to Colony Collapse Disorder. "Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), or the widespread population loss of honeybees, may have been caused by the use of neonicotinoids, according to a new study out of Harvard University. Neonicotinoids are a class of pesticides, chemically similar to nicotine. They were first developed for agricultural use in the 1980's by petroleum giant Shell. The pesticides were refined by Bayer the following decade. Two of these chemicals are now believed to be the cause of CCD, according to the new study from the School of Public Health at the university. This study replicated their own research performed in 2012."

Al Franken Says FCC Proposed Rules Are "The Opposite of Net Neutrality"

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the you-keep-using-that-word-I-do-not-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means dept.

United States 282

An anonymous reader writes "Senator Al Franken can be counted among the many who are at odds with the FCC's proposed net neutrality rules. From the article: 'Senator Al Franken has a pretty good idea of what the term "net neutrality" means—and that, he says, puts him head-and-shoulders above many of his colleagues in the U.S. Congress. "We literally have members of Congress—I've heard members of the House—say, 'We've had all this innovation on the Internet without net neutrality. Why do we need it now?'" he told TIME in an interview last week. "I want to say, 'Come on, just try to understand the idea. Or at least just don't give a speech if you don't know what you're saying. Please—it hurts my head."'"

Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Lately, Coding

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the show-and-tell dept.

Education 125

theodp (442580) writes "The NY Times reports that the national educational movement in computer coding instruction is growing at Internet speeds. 'There's never been a move this fast in education,' said Elliot Soloway, a professor of education and computer science at the Univ. of Michigan. But, cautions the NY Times' Matt Richtel, it is not clear that teaching basic computer science in grade school will beget future jobs or foster broader creativity and logical thinking, as some champions of the movement are projecting. And particularly for younger children, the activity is more like a video game — better than simulated gunplay, but not likely to impart actual programming skills. 'Some educators worry about the industry's heavy role,' adds Richtel. 'Major tech companies and their founders, including Bill Gates and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, have put up about $10 million for Code.org,' which recently announced its CS programs will be rolled out to more than 2 million students — nearly 5% of all U.S. K-12 students — at 30 school districts this fall. Among the 20,000 teachers who Code.org says have signed on is Alana Aaron, a fifth-grade math and science teacher who, with her principal's permission, swapped a two-month earth sciences lesson she was going to teach on land masses for the Code.org curriculum. 'Computer science is big right now — in our country, the world,' she said. 'If my kids aren't exposed to things like that, they could miss out on potential opportunities and careers.'"

Feds: Sailor Hacked Navy Network While Aboard Nuclear Aircraft Carrier

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the to-the-hacking-station dept.

Security 43

ClownP (1315157) writes in with this story about a hacker who did some of his work while aboard a nuclear aircraft carrier. " A former sailor assigned to a US nuclear aircraft carrier and another man have been charged with hacking the computer systems of 30 public and private organizations, including the US Navy, the Department of Homeland Security, AT&T, and Harvard University. Nicholas Paul Knight, 27, of Chantilly, VA, and Daniel Trenton Krueger, 20, of Salem, IL, were members of a crew that hacked protected computers as part of a scheme to steal personal identities and obstruct justice, according to a criminal complaint unsealed earlier this week in a US District Court in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The gang, which went by the name Team Digi7al, allegedly took to Twitter to boast of the intrusions and publicly disclose sensitive data that was taken. The hacking spree lasted from April 2012 to June 2013, prosecutors said."

Wyoming Is First State To Reject Science Standards Over Climate Change

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the in-the-case-of-science-v-politics dept.

Education 661

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Time Magazine reports that Wyoming, the nation's top coal-producing state, has become the first state to reject new K-12 science standards proposed by national education groups mainly because of global warming components. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are a set of science standards developed by leading scientists and science educators from 26 states and built on a framework developed by the National Academy of Sciences. The Wyoming science standards revision committee made up entirely of Wyoming educators unanimously recommended adoption of these standards to the state Board of Education not once but twice and twelve states have already adopted the standards since they were released in April 2013. But opponents argue the standards incorrectly assert that man-made emissions are the main cause of global warming and shouldn't be taught in a state that ranks first among all states in coal production, fifth in natural gas production and eighth in crude oil production deriving much of its school funding from the energy industry.

Amy Edmonds, of the Wyoming Liberty Group, says teaching 'one view of what is not settled science about global warming' is just one of a number of problems with the standards. 'I think Wyoming can do far better.' Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has called federal efforts to curtail greenhouse emissions a 'war on coal' and has said that he's skeptical about man-made climate change. Supporters of the NGSS say science standards for Wyoming schools haven't been updated since 2003 and are six years overdue. 'If you want the best science education for your children and grandchildren and you don't want any group to speak for you, then make yourselves heard loud and clear,' says Cate Cabot. 'Otherwise you will watch the best interests of Wyoming students get washed away in the hysteria of a small anti-science minority driven by a national right wing group – and political manipulation.'"

Silicon Valley's Love-Hate Relationship With President Obama

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the getting-along-because-the-alternative-is-worse dept.

Democrats 131

theodp writes: "Covering President Obama's visit to Silicon Valley, the AP reports that the relationship between the White House, Silicon Valley and its money is complicated. Less than a year after David Kirkpatrick asked, "Did Obama Just Destroy the U.S. Internet Industry?", and just two months after Mark Zuckerberg gave the President a call complaining about NSA spying, Silicon Valley execs hosted two high-stakes Democratic Party fundraisers for the President. The White House declined to identify the 20 high-rollers who paid $32,400 per head to sit at the Tech Roundtable. The President also attended an event hosted by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Y Combinator president Sam Altman, where the 250 or so guests paid $1,000 to $32,400 a head for bar service that featured wine, beer and cognac. The following day, Obama celebrated solar power at a Mountain View Walmart before jetting out of NASA's Moffett Field."

Former NSA Director: 'We Kill People Based On Metadata'

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the kill-metadata-based-on-people-instead dept.

Privacy 155

An anonymous reader writes "An article by David Cole at the NY Review of Books lays out why we should care as much about the collection of metadata as we do about the collection of the data itself. At a recent debate, General Michael Hayden, who formerly led both the NSA and the CIA, told Cole, 'we kill people based on metadata.' The statement is stark and descriptive: metadata isn't just part of the investigation. Sometimes it's the entire investigation. Cole talks about the USA Freedom Act, legislation that would limit the NSA's data collection powers if it passes. The bill contains several good steps in securing the privacy of citizens and restoring due process. But Cole says it 'only skims the surface.' He writes, 'It does not address, for example, the NSA's guerilla-like tactics of inserting vulnerabilities into computer software and drivers, to be exploited later to surreptitiously intercept private communications. It also focuses exclusively on reining in the NSA's direct spying on Americans. ... In the Internet era, it is increasingly common that everyone's communications cross national boundaries. That makes all of us vulnerable, for when the government collects data in bulk from people it believes are foreign nationals, it is almost certain to sweep up lots of communications in which Americans are involved.' He concludes, '[T]he biggest mistake any of us could make would be to conclude that this bill solves the problem.'"

Mozilla Ditches Firefox's New-Tab Monetization Plans

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the benefits-of-asking-for-feedback dept.

Firefox 195

hypnosec writes "Mozilla has ditched Firefox's new-tab monetization plans because they 'didn't go over well' with the community. Johnathan Nightingale, Mozilla's VP of Firefox, said much of Firefox's community was worried Mozilla would 'turn Firefox into a mess of logos sold to the highest bidder' and that users wouldn't have control over this or see any actual benefit. 'That's not going to happen. That's not who we are at Mozilla.'"

China May Build an Undersea Train To America

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the just-drill-through-the-planet's-crust dept.

China 348

New submitter howtokilltime sends this news from the Washington Post: "China is planning to build a train line that would, in theory, connect Beijing to the United States. According to a report in the Beijing Times, citing an expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Chinese officials are considering a route that would start in the country's northeast, thread through eastern Siberia and cross the Bering Strait via a 125-mile long underwater tunnel into Alaska."

SpaceX Injunction Dissolved

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the failure-to-launch dept.

The Courts 98

An anonymous reader writes "Two weeks ago, SpaceX filed suit against the U.S. Air Force in an attempt to enforce competition for rocket purchases. They argued it was a bad idea to blindly shovel money into Russia's coffers for rides to space, and said there was no way for other rocket manufacturers to get a foot in the door. Last week, it looked like they were getting traction — an injunction was granted, temporarily halting the Air Force's process of buying rockets. Unfortunately for SpaceX, that injunction has now been dissolved. At the heart of the suit was Executive Order 13,661, which blocks the transfer of wealth to people in the Russian Federation who are related to the situation in the Ukraine. SpaceX said that since Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin was the head of their space agency, payments to the agency were effectively payments to him. The U.S. departments of Commerce, State, and the Treasury all sent letters to the court saying this was not the case, and the court agreed. Here's the final ruling."

UK ISPs To Send Non-Threatening Letters To Pirates

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the a-kinder-gentler-copyright-industry dept.

Piracy 93

New submitter echo-e writes: "A deal has been made between groups representing content creators and ISPs in the UK concerning how the ISPs should respond to suspected illegal file sharers. In short, the ISPs will send letters or emails with an 'educational' rather than threatening tone, alerting users to legal alternatives. The rights holders will be notified of the number of such alerts that have been sent out, but only the ISPs will know the identity of the offenders. Only four of the UKs ISPs have agreed to the 'Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme' so far, but the remaining ISPs are expected to join the programme at a later stage. The debate between rights holders and ISPs has raged on for years. This agreement falls short of the of the proposals put forward by the rights holders groups, but the ISPs have argued that it is not their responsibility to police users and that a legal process already exists for going after individuals."

As Species Decline, So Do the Scientists Who Name Them

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the end-of-the-line dept.

Earth 76

tcd004 (134130) writes "Few sciences are more romantic than taxonomy. Imagine Darwin, perched over a nest of newly-discovered birds in the Galapagos, sketching away with a charcoal in his immortal journals. Yet Taxonomy is a dying science. DNA barcoding, which can identify species from tiny fragments of organic material, and other genetic sciences are pulling students away from the classical studies of anatomy and species classifications. As the biodiversity crisis wipes undiscovered species off the planet, so to go the scientists who count them."

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