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WheezyJoe writes: The Verge reports on leaked training manuals from Comcast, which show how selling services is a required part of the job, even for employees doing tech support. The so-called "4S training material" explicitly states that 20 percent of a call center employee's rating for a given call is dependent on effectively selling the customer new Comcast services. "There are pages of materials on 'probing' customers to ferret out upsell opportunities, as well as on batting aside customer objections to being told they need to buy something. 'We can certainly look at other options, but you would lose which you mentioned was important to you,' the guide suggests clumsily saying to an angry customer who doesn't want to buy any more Comcast services." Images of the leaked documents are available on the Verge, making for fun reading.
mpicpp sends word of a $125,000 settlement for a man who was arrested for photographing members of the New York Police Department. On June 14th, 2012, the man was sitting in his car when he saw three African-American youths being stopped and frisked by police officers. He began taking pictures of the encounter, and after the police were done, he advised the youths to get the officers' badge numbers next time. When the officers heard him, they pulled him violently from his car and arrested him under a charge of disorderly conduct. The police allegedly deleted the pictures from his phone (PDF). Rather than go to trial, the city's lawyers decided a settlement was the best course of action.
Several readers sent word that Android Police has leaked details about YouTube's upcoming subscription service, Music Key. The benefits for users will include ad-free music, offline playback, and audio-only streams. It's expected to cost $10 per month. "Of course, one of Music Key's major value propositions is that users will have access not just to official discographies, but to concert footage, covers, and remixes. Play Music already houses some remixes and covers, but YouTube as a platform is significantly more open and workable for derivative content — the platform is much easier to add content to, and user discoverability is substantially different from Play Music." Others note Google still has to negotiate terms with many independent musicians, who could subsequently see their work blocked if they aren't willing to play by Google's rules.
jones_supa writes: After leaving his position as CEO of Microsoft a year ago, Steve Ballmer has still held a position as a member of the board of directors for the company. Now, he is leaving the board, explaining why in a letter to fresh Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. "I have become very busy," Ballmer explains. "I see a combination of Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking up a lot of time." Despite his departure, the former-CEO is still invested in the company's success, and he spent most of the letter encouraging Nadella and giving advice. Nadella shot back a supportive, equally optimistic response, promising that Microsoft will thrive in "the mobile-first, cloud-first world."
Wikipedia says Tim O'Reilly "is the founder of O'Reilly Media (formerly O'Reilly & Associates) and a supporter of the free software and open source movements." And so he is. O'Reilly Media is also the company from which Make magazine and the assorted Maker Faires sprang, before spinning off into an ongoing presence of their own. (This year's Solid conference, as well as the confluence of hardware and software at OSCON demonstrate O'Reilly's ongoing interest in the world of makers, though.) O'Reilly has been a powerful force in technical book publishing, popularized the term Web 2.0, and has been at least a godfather to the open source movement. He's also an interesting person in general, even more so when he's hanging out at home than when he's on stage at a conference or doing a formal interview. That's why we were glad Timothy Lord was able to get hold of Tim O'Reilly via Hangout while he was in a relaxed mood in a no-pressure environment, happy to give detailed responses based on your questions, from small (everyday technology) to big (the Internet as "global brain").
We've run a few two-part videos, but this is the first time we've split one video into six parts -- with two running today, two tomorrow, and two Thursday. But then, how many people do we interview who have had as much of an effect on the nature of information transmission -- as opposed to just publishing -- as Tim O'Reilly? We don't know for sure, but there's a good chance that O'Reilly books are owned by more Slashdot readers than books from any other publisher. That alone makes Tim O'Reilly worth listening to for nearly an hour, total. (Alternate Video Links: Video 1 ~ Video 2; transcript below covers both videos.)
Along with the rest of the mix that makes this site work, Slashdot has nearly two decades now of spotting and showing off interesting projects, inventions, technologies, and hobbies. Some of them are strictly personal, some are frankly commercial, and some are the fruits of ambitious organizations (or tiny teams) motivated by curiosity and passion (or even politics, or just plain fun). As outlined earlier, we've been gathering a lot of these into our new Build section; read on to learn a bit more about what that includes. (And watch out later today for the first part of our conversation with technology-inspiring Rennaisance Man Tim O'Reilly, and later in the week for answers to the questions you asked Bunnie Huang.)
In 2010, ash spewed into the atmosphere by the volcano beneath Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull glacier grounded European air traffic for days (and, partially, for weeks). As reported by The Guardian, a series of similarly situated earthquakes may herald a similar ash-ejecting erruption, and the country has raised its volcano risk to its second-most-severe rating (orange). From the article: Iceland met office seismologist Martin Hensch said the risk of any disruptive ash cloud similar to the one in 2010 would depend on how high any ash would be thrown, how much there would be and how fine-grained it would be. Bardarbunga is Iceland's largest volcanic system, located under the ice cap of the Vatnajokull glacier in the southeast of Iceland. It is in a different range to Eyjafjallajokull. The met office said in a statement it measured the strongest earthquake in the region since 1996 early on Monday and it now had strong indications of ongoing magma movement. "As evidence of magma movement shallower than 10km implies increased potential of a volcanic eruption, the Bardarbunga aviation colour code has been changed to orange," it said. "Presently there are no signs of eruption, but it cannot be excluded that the current activity will result in an explosive subglacial eruption, leading to an outburst flood and ash emission." ... Hensch said the biggest risk in Iceland itself was from flood waves from any eruption under the glacier. He said the area of Iceland mainly at risk of flooding was mostly uninhabited but that roads in the area had been closed.
itwbennett (1594911) writes In a follow-up to yesterday's story about the Chinese hackers who stole hospital data of 4.5 million patients, IDG News Service's Martyn Williams set out to learn why the data, which didn't include credit card information, was so valuable. The answer is depressingly simple: people without health insurance can potentially get treatment by using medical data of one of the hacking victims. John Halamka, chief information officer of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and chairman of the New England Healthcare Exchange Network, said a medical record can be worth between $50 and $250 to the right customer — many times more than the amount typically paid for a credit card number, or the cents paid for a user name and password. "If I am one of the 50 million Americans who are uninsured ... and I need a million-dollar heart transplant, for $250 I can get a complete medical record including insurance company details," he said.
An anonymous reader writes The news aggregator Fark is ancient in dot com terms. Users submit news links to the privately run site and tear it — and each other — to pieces in the discussion threads. (Sound familiar?) While the site isn't as popular as during the early 2000s, the privately run discussion forum has continued and has its champions. site operator Drew Curtis announced today that Gifs, references, jokes and comments involving sexism will be deleted. "Adam Savage once described to me the problem this way: if the Internet was a dude, we'd all agree that dude has a serious problem with women. We've actually been tightening up moderation style along these lines for awhile now, but as of today, the FArQ will be updated with new rules reminding you all that we don't want to be the He Man Woman Hater's Club. This represents enough of a departure from pretty much how every other large internet community operates that I figure an announcement is necessary."
Given how bare-knuckled Fark can be, is it time? Overdue?
First time accepted submitter BarbaraHudson (3785311) writes The CBC is reporting that Blackberry has made preparations to abandon the phone market by spinning pieces of the business off into Blackberry Technology Solutions. From the article: "The unit ... includes QNX, the company that BlackBerry acquired and used to develop the operating system that became the platform for its new smartphones, and Certicom, a former independent Toronto-area company with advanced security software. BTS will also include BlackBerry's Project Ion, which is an application platform focused on machine-to-machine Internet technology, Paratek antenna tuning technology and about 44,000 patents." When you have less market share than Windows Phone, it's time to throw in the towel ... or as they say in the new "lets not admit we screwed up" vernacular, "pivot to take advantage of new opportunities."
Nerval's Lobster writes Women outpace men when it comes to raising money for technology projects through crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, according to a new study by researchers at New York University and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Jason Greenberg (NYC) and Ethan Mollick (Wharton/UPenn) chose 1,250 Kickstarter projects in five categories: games and technology, where founders were predominantly male; film, with an even gender distribution; and fashion and children's books, both populated with more female founders and backers. They analyzed additional factors such as "industry typing" (a theory in which people 'often hold conscious or unconscious biases about what gender is the archetype employee in a particular occupation or industry') and restricted the data set by geography and how much money each Kickstarter project wanted (a project aiming for less than $5,000 may attract an inordinate percentage of family and friends as funders, skewing results). After crunching the data, they found that female founders of technology projects were more likely than males to achieve their Kickstarter goals, a finding that didn't extend to the other four categories. "It appears female backers are responsible for helping female founders succeed in specific industry categories that women backers generally disfavor," they theorized, adding a little later: "The value of crowdfunding is that it enables access to a pool of potential female backers particularly inclined to support women in industry categories in which they believe women to be underrepresented."
Jason Koebler writes The Royal Society of London, the world's oldest scientific publisher, has unveiled a proposal to create the first serious framework for future geoengineering experiments. It's a sign that what are still considered drastic and risky measures to combat climate change are drifting further into the purview of mainstream science. The scientific body has issued a call to create "an open and transparent review process that ensures such experiments have the necessary social license to operate."
An anonymous reader writes The debate over Internet governance for much of the past decade has often come down to a battle between ICANN and the United Nations. The reality has always been far more complicated. The U.S. still maintains contractual control over ICANN, while all governments exert considerable power within the ICANN model through the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). Now governments are looking for even more power, seeking a near-complete veto power of ICANN decisions.
An anonymous reader writes Julian Assange has hosted a press conference in which he indicated he is soon about to leave the embassy of Ecuador in London. From the article: "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has spent over two years in Ecuador's London embassy to avoid a sex crimes inquiry in Sweden, said on Monday he planned to leave the building 'soon', but Britain signaled it would still arrest him if he tried. Assange made the surprise assertion during a news conference alongside Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino. But his spokesman played down the chances of an imminent departure, saying the British government would first need to revise its position and let him leave without arrest, something it has repeatedly refused to do.
An anonymous reader writes "The former CEO of Redflex, a major red light camera vendor, and John Bills, former Managing Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Transportation, have been indicted on federal corruption charges stemming from a contract with the City of Chicago. According to the indictment, a friend of Bills was hired as a contractor and paid $2 million. Much of that money was then kicked back to Bills, who also got a Mercedes and a condominium via Redflex employees. The defendants are facing 23 counts including: mail fraud, wire fraud, and bribery. Each fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years."
An anonymous reader writes NPR commentator Bonny Wolf has a unique solution to battle the threat of invasive fish species in our waterways. She proposes we fight them with a knife, fork, and a few lemon wedges. From the article: "Take the northern snakehead, which has made its way into tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. It competes with native species for food, and then eats the native species, not to mention the odd frog or bird, with its mouthful of sharp teeth. It's been called "Fishzilla." It breeds fast, has no natural predators and can grow to be 4 feet long. The northern snakehead hangs out in grassy shallows, making it hard to catch. But a couple of years ago, Maryland started promoting the snakehead as an eating fish. Its harvest has increased from zero to 5,000 pounds a year."
An anonymous reader writes "Phil Plait wants you to know that asteroid 1950 DA is very, very unlikely to hit the Earth in 2880, despite what you may have read. He writes: "As it happens, 1950 DA is what's called a 'near-Earth asteroid', because its orbit sometimes brings it relatively close to Earth. I'll note that I mean close on a cosmic scale. Looking over the next few decades, a typical pass is tens of millions of kilometers away, with some as close as five million kilometers — which is still more than ten times farther away than the Moon! Still, that's in our neighborhood, which is one of the reasons this asteroid is studied so well. It gets close enough that we can get a decent look at it when it passes. Can it impact the Earth? Yes, kindof. Right now, the orbit of the asteroid doesn't bring it close enough to hit us. But there are forces acting on asteroids over time that subtly change their orbits; one of them is called the YORP effect, a weak force that arises due to the way the asteroid spins and radiates away heat. The infrared photons it emits when it's warm carry away a teeny tiny bit of momentum, and they act pretty much like an incredibly low-thrust rocket. Over many years, this can change both the rotation of the asteroid as well as the shape of its orbit."
An anonymous reader writes "In an attempt to keep you from having to explain to your crazy relatives that despite what they read, Vice President Biden *didn't* get a grow light delivered to the White House under a fake name, Facebook is testing a "satire" tag on news feeds. A Facebook representative issued the following statement to Ars Technica: "We are running a small test which shows the text '[Satire]' in front of links to satirical articles in the related articles unit in News Feed. This is because we received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others in these units."
An anonymous reader writes The editor of a Bitcoin advocacy site believes the proliferation of altcoins (cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin) is harming Bitcoin's long-term potential as an alternative to traditional currencies. Posting at BadBitcoin.org, a site that seeks to expose online scams that target Bitcoin users, the pseudonymous ViK compares altcoins, including the Internet meme inspired Dogecoin, to a pump-and-dump scheme where developers create their own version of the Bitcoin wallet and blockchain and then "pre-mine" or generate a significant number of cryptocurrency units before the altcoin's official release. Later, when their value has risen, the pre-mined altcoins are exchanged for Bitcoin or in some cases converted directly to cash. While critics of cryptocurrencies in general might find ViK's comments about the altcoin "tulip" mania ironic, the self-confessed Bitcoin fan is nevertheless calling for an altcoin boycott: "The easiest way to stop them is to not participate. We all know that they only have one purpose, and that is to make Bitcoin for the so called developers."
An anonymous reader writes in with news about a breakthrough in recording quantum behavior in electrons. A group of researchers has said that they have come up with a new method to record and control electron behavior at the quantum mechanical level. The research team, headed by the scientists at the University of Chicago, used laser lights in ultra-fast pulses for the experiment. The laser light controlled the quantum state of electrons. It contained inside nanoscale defects in a diamond. The researchers observed changes in that electron over a time period. They focused on the quantum mechanical property of electrons known as spin. Lead author David Awschalom, a molecular engineering professor at a university in Chicago, said, "These defects have attracted great interest of the scientists over the past decade. They provide a test-bed system for developing semiconductor quantum bits as well as nanoscale sensors."
An anonymous reader writes: Object-based audio is supposed to be the future of surround sound. The ability to pan sound around the room in 3D space as opposed to fixed channel assignments of yesterday's decoders. While this makes a lot of sense at the cinema, it's less likely consumers rush to mount speakers on their ceilings or put little speaker modules on top of their existing ones to bounce sound around the room. Leading experts think this will be just a fad like 3DTV was. What do you think?
theodp writes As teachers excitedly tweet about completing their summer CS Professional Development at Google and Microsoft, and kids get ready to go back to school, Code.org is inviting educators to check out their K-5 Computer Science Curriculum (beta), which is slated to launch in September (more course details). The content, Code.org notes, is a blend of online activities ("engineers from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter helped create this tutorial," footnotes explain) and 'unplugged' activities, lessons in which students can learn computing concepts with or without a computer. It's unclear if he's reviewed the material himself, but Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is grateful for the CS effort ("Thank you for teaching our students these critical skills").
mdsolar sends this news from the Associated Press:
Expensive delays are piling up for the companies building new nuclear power plants, raising fresh questions about whether they can control the construction costs that crippled the industry years ago. The latest announcement came this week from executives at SCANA Corp., which has been warned by its builders the startup of the first of two new reactors in South Carolina could be delayed two years or more. ... That announcement may well foreshadow more delays for a sister project in eastern Georgia, and they have caught the attention of regulators and Wall Street. 'Delays generally cause cost increases, and the question becomes who's going to bear the costs?' said C. Dukes Scott, executive director of the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, a watchdog agency that monitors SCANA Corp.'s spending.
None of this is helpful for the nuclear power industry, which had hoped its newest generation of plants in Georgia and South Carolina would prove it could build without the delays and cost overruns so endemic years ago. When construction slows down, it costs more money to employ the thousands of workers needed to build a nuclear plant. Meanwhile, interest charges add up on the money borrowed to finance construction. A single day of delay in Georgia could cost $2 million, according to an analysis by utility regulators.
McGruber writes: While reading a story in the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post, I saw that the paper had begun embedding Amazon Buy-It-Now links in the middle of story sentences. For example, in this article, a sentence about the sales figures for differing covers of The Great Gatsby read: At Politics and Prose, the traditional [BUY IT NOW] version — featuring the iconic eyes floating on a blue background — sold better than the DiCaprio [BUY IT NOW] cover. This change follows the July news of much larger than expected losses at Amazon and a 10-percent decline in the Amazon's stock value. In related news, the Post reports that the literary executor of George Orwell's estate has accused Amazon.com of doublespeak after they cited one of Orwell's essays in their ebook pricing debate with Hachette and other publishers.
An anonymous reader writes: High-speed internet has become an everyday tool for most people, and cord-cutters have dramatically slowed the growth of cable TV, so this had to happen eventually: broadband internet subscribers now outnumber cable TV subscribers among the top cable providers in the U.S. According to a new report, these providers account for 49,915,000 broadband subscribers, edging out the number of cable subscribers by about 5,000. As Re/code's Peter Kafka notes, this means that for better or worse, the cable guys are now the internet guys. Kafka says their future is "selling you access to data pipes, and pay TV will be one of the things you use those pipes for."
New submitter Nocturrne writes: The FOSS project Lantern is having great success in unblocking the internet for many users in oppressive regimes, like China and Iran. Much like Tor and BitTorrent, Lantern is using peer-to-peer networking to overcome firewalls, but with the additional security of a trusted network of friends. "If you download Lantern in an uncensored region, you can connect with someone in a censored region, who can then access whatever content they want through you. What makes the system so unique is that it operates on the basis of trust. ... Through a process called consistent routing, the amount of information any single Lantern user can learn about other users is limited to a small subset, making infiltration significantly more difficult." The network of peers is growing, but we need more friends in uncensored countries to join us.
Advocatus Diaboli writes with this excerpt from Heise: Since the early days of TCP, port scanning has been used by computer saboteurs to locate vulnerable systems. In a new set of top secret documents seen by Heise, it is revealed that in 2009, the British spy agency GCHQ made port scans a "standard tool" to be applied against entire nations. Twenty-seven countries are listed as targets of the HACIENDA program in the presentation, which comes with a promotional offer: readers desiring to do reconnaissance against another country need simply send an e-mail. Also from the article: The list of targeted services includes ubiquitous public services such as HTTP and FTP, as well as common administrative protocols such as SSH (Secure SHell protocol – used for remote access to systems) and SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol – used for network administration) (Figure 4). Given that in the meantime, port scanning tools like Zmap have been developed which allow anyone to do comprehensive scans, it is not the technology used that is shocking, but rather the gargantuan scale and pervasiveness of the operation.
IBM sold its personal computer line (including the iconic ThinkPad line) to Lenovo back in 2005. Now, Lenovo is poised to acquire IBM's line of X86-based servers, and has garnered the approval of a regulatory body which could have scotched the deal. (The article describes the server line at issue as "low end," but that's in the eye of the beholder.) From the article: The conclusion of the review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., or Cfius, is “good news for both IBM and Lenovo, and for our customers and employees,” Armonk, New York-based IBM said yesterday in a statement. While Cfius placed some conditions on the deal, they don’t significantly affect the business, and terms of the transaction didn’t change as result, a person with knowledge of the matter said, without specifying the conditions. The sale drew scrutiny because of disputes between China and the U.S., the world’s two largest economies, over cyberintrusions. By completing the deal, IBM can jettison a less profitable business to focus on growing areas, such as cloud computing and data analytics, while giving Lenovo a bigger piece of the global computing-hardware market. ... Spokesmen for IBM and Lenovo declined to comment on whether the Cfius clearance included any requirements or concessions. Holly Shulman, a spokeswoman for the Treasury Department, which leads Cfius, declined to comment.
New submitter onproton writes: Citizen Lab released new research today on a targeted exploitation technique used by state actors involving "network injection appliances" installed at ISPs. These devices can target and intercept unencrypted YouTube traffic and replace it with malicious code that gives the operator control over the system or installs a surveillance backdoor. One of the researchers writes, "many otherwise well-informed people think they have to do something wrong, or stupid, or insecure to get hacked—like clicking on the wrong attachments, or browsing malicious websites...many of these commonly held beliefs are not necessarily true." This technique is largely designed for targeted attacks, so it's likely most of us will be safe for now — but just one more reminder to use https.
Lasrick writes: Almost 10 years ago, California's legislature passed Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. AB 32 set the most ambitious legally binding climate policy in the United States, requiring that California's greenhouse gas emissions return to 1990 levels by the year 2020. The centerpiece of the state's efforts — in rhetorical terms, if not practical ones — is a comprehensive carbon market, which California's leaders promote as a model policy for controlling carbon pollution. Over the course of the past 18 months, however, California quietly changed its approach to a critical rule affecting the carbon market's integrity. Under the new rule, utilities are rewarded for swapping contracts on the Western electricity grid, without actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. Now that the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants, many are looking to the Golden State for best climate policy practices. On that score, California's experience offers cautionary insights into the challenges of using carbon markets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
jfruh writes: In September of 2012, SmartThings took to Kickstarter with the promise of delivering an "Internet of things" package to backers, including a hub device that would control various home gadgets via the user's smartphone. They aimed to raise $250,000. They got $1.2 million. And now they've been bought by Samsung for a reported $200 million, as the South Korean electronics market tries to get a foothold into this emerging market.
An anonymous reader writes: The Atlantic reports on a new online learning venture called Project Minerva. Its goal is to blend the most effective parts of online and real-life college education. The problem with most online courses is that the vast majority of people who sign up for them never finish — they aren't engaged enough. Minerva is set up to encourage more interaction between a live professor and other students. Quoting: "[A]t first it reminded me of the opening credits of The Brady Bunch: a grid of images of the professor and eight "students" (the others were all Minerva employees) appeared on the screen before me, and we introduced ourselves. ... Within a few minutes, though, the experience got more intense.
Bonabeau began by polling us on our understanding of the reading, a Nature article about the sudden depletion of North Atlantic cod in the early 1990s. He asked us which of four possible interpretations of the article was the most accurate. In an ordinary undergraduate seminar, this might have been an occasion for timid silence, until the class's biggest loudmouth or most caffeinated student ventured a guess. But the Minerva class extended no refuge for the timid, nor privilege for the garrulous. Within seconds, every student had to provide an answer, and Bonabeau displayed our choices so that we could be called upon to defend them." The professor has fine-grained control over the class, and can easily divide students into groups, or link up directly for one-on-one advice. The project hopes that having a professor directly involved (and using modern tools) will bring the online learning experience up to speed with more traditional methods.
New submitter JonnyCalcutta writes: The football Premier League in England is warning about posting clips of goals on online services such as Vine and Twitter. The claim is that posting these clips is "illegal under copyright laws." I'm naturally dubious about blanket statements from rightsholders already known to push the truth, especially concerning such short clips, but I don't know enough about copyright law to understand the implications fully. Is it illegal? What can they actually do about it? Does adding commentary give the uploader any rights to post?
mdsolar sends this story from the NY Times: The Internet may be losing the war against trolls. At the very least, it isn't winning. And unless social networks, media sites and governments come up with some innovative way of defeating online troublemakers, the digital world will never be free of the trolls' collective sway. That's the dismal judgment of the handful of scholars who study the broad category of online incivility known as trolling, a problem whose scope is not clear, but whose victims keep mounting. "As long as the Internet keeps operating according to a click-based economy, trolls will maybe not win, but they will always be present," said Whitney Phillips, a lecturer at Humboldt State University and the author of This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things, a forthcoming book about her years of studying bad behavior online. "The faster that the whole media system goes, the more trolls have a foothold to stand on. They are perfectly calibrated to exploit the way media is disseminated these days."
stoborrobots writes: The Government Accountability Office has investigated the cost blowouts associated with how the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) handled the Healthcare.gov project. It has released a 60-page report entitled Healthcare.gov: Ineffective Planning and Oversight Practices Underscore the Need for Improved Contract Management, with a 5 page summary. The key takeaway messages are:
coondoggie writes Probably one of the last and perhaps unforgiving areas of the world not truly "wired" is above and below the ocean. Researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) want to explore the possibility of seriously changing that notion and develop what it calls "a system-of-systems architecture and critical components to support networked maritime operations, to include undersea, surface, and above surface domains."
minstrelmike writes In Leeds, England, architects are adding a plethora of baffles and other structures to prevent the channeling of winds from a skyscraper that have pushed baby carriages into the street and caused one pedestrian death by blowing over a truck. Other architectural mistakes listed in the article include death ray buildings that can melt car bumpers and landscape ponds that blind tenants.
An anonymous reader writes US Department of Defense contractors will have to wait until September 24 to see what specific rules they will be required to follow when it comes to the reporting of computer breaches to the DoD. This particular requirement has been mandated by the US Congress last year, in an attempt to get clear view of the type and frequency of attacks contractors face. The US Congress will require "cleared defense contractors" — i.e. those who have been granted clearance by the DoD to access, receive, or store classified information — to effect a rapid report in the wake of a successful breach, and to include in it a description of the technique or method used in the penetration, a sample of the malicious software used (if discovered), and a summary of information created for the Department in connection with any Department program that has been potentially compromised due to such penetration.
Jason Koebler writes The FBI has had an eager eye on surveillance drones since first experimenting with remote control airplanes in 1995. But budget cuts nearly ended the Bureau's unmanned machinations in 2010, and it took a dedicated push aimed at making drones "a tool the FBI cannot do without" to cement their place in the FBI's surveillance toolkit. The near termination—and subsequent expansion—of the FBI's drone program over the past four years is chronicled in hundreds of heavily-redacted pages released under a lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington over the past several months.
Brandon Butler writes As an ode to Shark Week: Sharks have been known to show an appetite for fiber cables underwater, and last week a Google official said to prevent sharks from wreaking havoc on the company's trans-Pacific fiber lines, it wraps them in Kevlar. It's believed that the emission of electrical currents from the fiber piping is mistaken by sharks occasionally as prey. In related news, a growing number of scientists are becoming disgruntled with the Discovery network's sensationalist programs. Many shark experts are refusing to work with the channel after such programs as their Megalodon "documentary" and their latest Shark of Darkness (not to mention the mermaid special, which was sadly missing a singing crab.)
Sockatume writes The Verge has an article on Discovery's hugely successful Shark Week, discussing how the increasing sensationalist special event misrepresents science and exploits nature and local history for shock value. Scientists who appeared in and were misrepresented by the channel's programming are beginning to encourage their peers to stay away from the Discovery network, which stands by the programming 's viewing figures.
Daniel_Stuckey writes with a story about an interesting (or, you might think, creepy) institution at the University of Washington's Seattle campus. It's the Center for Game Science, a research lab that makes educational video games for children, and that received the bulk of its funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the wing of the U.S. Department of Defense that supports research into experimental military technology. Why is DARPA the original primary funder of the CGS? According to written and recorded statements from current and former DARPA program managers, as well as other government documents, the DARPA-funded educational video games developed at the CGS have a purpose beyond the pretense of teaching elementary school children STEM skills.
New submitter fpodoo writes "We are going to launch a new version of Odoo, the open source business apps suite. Once a year we release a new version and all the documentation has to be rewritten, as the software evolves a lot. It's a huge effort (~1000 pages, 250 apps) and it feels like we are building on quicksand. I am wondering if it would be better to invest all our efforts in R&D on improving the user experience and building tools in the product to better help the user. Do you know any complex software that succeeded in avoiding documentation by having significantly improved usability? As a customer, how would you feel with a very simple product (much simpler than the competition but still a bit complex) that has no documentation?"
First time accepted submitter Kilroy1218 writes After freezing tuition past their original deadline Purdue University announced a partnership with Amazon today which aside from greatly competitive book pricing "will bring staffed customer order pickup and drop-off locations to Purdue's campus, as well as expedited shipping benefits phased in over the course of the 2014-2015 academic year." “This relationship is another step in Purdue’s efforts to make a college education more affordable for our students,” said President Mitch Daniels. “With the pressure on college campuses to reduce costs, this new way of doing business has the potential to change the book-buying landscape for students and their families.”
cartechboy writes: We all know Tesla is working on its Gigafactory, and it has yet to announce officially where it will be. But the automaker did announce a shortlist of possible locations, and California wasn't on it. The state has quickly been trying to lure Tesla to get back into contention. Now the state may waive environmental rules which would normally make construction of such a large manufacturing facility more difficult. Apparently, Governor Jerry Brown's office is currently negotiating an incentive package for Tesla that would waive certain parts of the nearly half-century-old California Environmental Quality Act. Not only that, but state officials are reportedly considering letting Tesla begin construction and perform damage mitigation later, along with limiting lawsuits that could slow down the project. Let's not forget some massive tax breaks, to the tune of $500 million. Is California stepping out of bounds here?
Nate the greatest writes: The launch of Kindle Unlimited last month has many questioning the value of public libraries, with one pundit on Forbes even going so far as to proclaim that the U.K. could save money by shuttering all its libraries and replacing them with Kindle Unlimited subscriptions. Luckily for libraries, they're safe for now because they still beat Kindle Unlimited and its competitors in at least one category: content you want to read. As several reviewers have noted, Kindle Unlimited is stocked almost entirely with indie titles, with a handful of major titles thrown in. Even Scribd and Oyster only have ebooks from two of the five major U.S. publishers, while U.S. public libraries can offer titles from all five. They might be expensive and you might have to get on a waiting list, but as the Wall Street Journal points out, public libraries are safe because they can still offer a better selection. That is true, but I think the WSJ missed a key point: public libraries beat Amazon because they offer services Amazon cannot, including in-person tech support, internet access, and other basic assistance. The fact of the matter is, you can't use KU, Scribd, or Oyster if you don't know how to use your device, and your local public library is the best place to learn.
Phiro69 (3782875) writes Does anyone have any best practices/experience they would like to share on how their corporate entity put Open Source Software out on the Internet? Historically at my engineering firm, we've followed a model where we internally build a 1.0 release of something we want to open source, the product owner and legal perform a deep review of the release, and we push it out to a platform like Github where it typically sits and rusts.
Our engineering interns have started down a new path: Using Github from the beginning (I set the repo private), and, after a bare minimum is completed, flipping the repo public and continuing development in the open using Github. How do PO and Legal reviews fit in? How can we ensure we're not exposing ourselves or diluting our IP if we're doing semi-constant development, publicly, sans a heavily gated review process? What does everyone else do? Or does corporate America avoid this entire opportunity/entanglement/briar patch?
mdsolar (1045926) writes with news that NASA's second attempt to launch a satellite to map carbon dioxide levels across the globe succeeded, and its instruments are operating properly. From the article: NASA's first spacecraft dedicated to studying Earth's atmospheric climate changing carbon dioxide levels and its carbon cycle has reached its final observing orbit and taken its first science measurements as the leader of the world's first constellation of Earth science satellites known as the International 'A-Train. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) is a research satellite tasked with collecting the first global measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) — the leading human-produced greenhouse gas and the principal human-produced driver of climate change. The 'first light' measurements were conducted on Aug. 6 as the observatory flew over central Papua New Guinea and confirmed the health of the science instrument.
New submitter Mauro sends word that Microsoft has announced upcoming Xbox One support for streaming media both from attached USB devices, such as flash drives, and DLNA media servers. Compatibility with a broad list of media formats will be added by the end of the year, including .MKV files. They also followed up last week's announcement of a digital TV tuner with an interesting twist: it will be able to stream broadcasts over a local network to devices running the Smartglass app, which is available on Windows, Android, and iOS.
dcblogs writes: Mikey Dickerson, a site reliability engineer at Google, who was appointed Monday by the White House as the deputy federal CIO, will lead efforts to improve U.S. Websites. Dickerson, who worked on the Healthcare.gov rescue last year, said that one issue the government needs to fix is its culture. In describing his experience on the Healthcare.gov effort, he said the workplace was "not one that is optimized to get good work out of engineers." It was a shirt-and-tie environment, and while Dickerson said cultural issues may sound superficial, they are still real. "You don't have to think that the engineers are the creative snowflakes and rock stars that they think they are, you don't have to agree with any of that," Dickerson said in a recent conference presentation posted online. "I'm just telling you that's how they think of themselves, and if you want access to more of them, finding a way to deal with that helps a lot." Engineers want to make a difference, Dickerson said, and he has collected the names of more than 140 engineers who would be willing to take unpaid leave from their jobs to work on a meaningful project.