Submission + - Email Trails Show Bankers Behaving Badly

An anonymous reader writes: The New York Times is running a pair of stories about US financial institutions being investigated by the Federal government and courts for alleged systemic and illegal activities that helped bring about the housing crisis and collapse of the world economy in 2008. Emails produced during courtroom discovery reveal that insiders at JP Morgan Chase knew that the bundles of securities they were marketing to investors were rotten with bad loans. And emails show the credit rating agency Standard & Poor's (a division of McGraw-Hill) was determined to stop losing deals to its competitors by being too tough on the banks whose products they were evaluating

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Do most programmers understand the English language?

Shadoefax writes: I have been developing Firefox add-ons for several years and all so far submitted to AMO have been translated (localized) into several different languages. My latest add-on is geared more to the web developer as opposed to the average web browsing user. (It is a utility for examining JavaScript Objects and their methods and properties.) By my reckoning, I believe JavaScript, HTML, CSS and the DOM are all pretty much designed to be easily understood by English language readers.
My question is this: Can I assume that most programmers understand the English language well enough that I may forego localizing the UI? While this will save time, effort and bloat, it may also restrict the usage of (what I hope) is a useful tool for developers.

Submission + - Why do astronauts get sick in space? ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: In the years since astronauts started spending long stretches of time in space, we’ve known that weightlessness has a negative impact on health. The immune response just doesn’t seem to hold up the way it does on Earth. Some research on the International Space Station (ISS) may point to the culprit.

The experiment was conducted by ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter over the course of five months in 2006. Reiter maintained two cultures of human cells: one free-floating in weightlessness and the other in simulated gravity using a centrifuge. The preserved cells were later examined back on Earth and the weightless cells were in markedly worse shape than the ones kept in simulated gravity. It took some time to sort out, but researchers now think they know what cellular process is being short circuited by weightlessness.


Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Is there honestly a reason to use Ubuntu anymore? 6

Trilkin writes: I recently installed Linux Mint on my (non-technically savvy) grandmother's netbook and she's responded very well to it. I'm considering doing the same for her desktop, but my question is this: being that Mint is a fork of Ubuntu, is there any real compelling reason to actually use Ubuntu anymore? It seems so much more bloated. I'm aware that, under the surface, it's basically just a fork of Debian and Linux overall is a OS that can be tinkered with to be the exact environment you need. As an out-of-the-box desktop distribution, though, from my own testing, Ubuntu seems to be the weaker of the two thanks to its continuously growing amount of bloat in order to push its paid-for services. Is there really any real reason to use it over Mint? Outside of the paid-for services, is there anything it offers out of the box that Mint simply doesn't?

Submission + - European Court of Human Rights finds against copyright law ( 1

admiral snackbar writes: The European Court of Human Rights has declared that the copyright monopoly stands in direct conflict with fundamental Human Rights, as defined in the European Union and elsewhere. This means that as of today, nobody sharing culture in the EU may be convicted just for breaking the copyright monopoly law; the bar for convicting was raised considerably.

Submission + - Red Hat Talks About How They Hire

markfeffer writes: "Red Hat’s hired about 600 people in its last three fiscal quarters, and it’s going to keep hiring – about 900 to 1,000 more this year. The company’s primarily looking for software and technical support engineers, along with salespeople who can help strengthen its cloud-technology capabilities. They want people with strong technical skills, of course, but the company puts a premium on those who’ve taken the time to research its business and send in a resume that’s custom-tailored to the job opening."

Submission + - Parcel sensor knows your delivery has been dropped ( 1

Hamsterdan writes: Called DropTag, the gadget combines a battery, a low-energy Bluetooth transmitter, an accelerometer and a memory chip. Stuck on a parcel as it leaves an e-commerce warehouse, it logs any g-forces above a set risky shock level that it experiences. The idea is that when the courier puts it in your hands, you turn on Bluetooth on a smartphone running a DropTag app and scan it before you sign for it.

Submission + - Ants Use Sound to Communicate (

sciencehabit writes: A new study shows that even ant pupae—a stage between larvae and adult—can communicate via sound, and that this communication can be crucial to their survival. The young insects have a specialized spike along their abdomen that they stroke with one of their hind legs, similar to dragging the teeth of a comb along the edge of a table. This noise serves primarily as an emergency beacon, allowing the ants to shout for help when being threatened by a predator.

Submission + - Ancestor of All Placental Mammals Revealed (

sciencehabit writes: The ancestor of all placental mammals—the diverse lineage that includes almost all species of mammals living today, including humans—was a tiny, furry-tailed creature that evolved shortly after the dinosaurs disappeared, a new study suggests. The hypothetical creature, not found in the fossil record but inferred from it, probably was a tree-climbing, insect-eating mammal that weighed between 6 and 245 grams—somewhere between a small shrew and a mid-sized rat. It was furry, had a long tail, gave birth to a single young, and had a complex brain with a large lobe for interpreting smells and a corpus callosum, the bundle of nerve fibers that connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain. The period following the dinosaur die-offs could be considered a "big bang" of mammalian diversification, with species representing as many as 10 major groups of placentals appearing within a 200,000-year interval.

Submission + - No Transmitting Aliens Detected in Kepler SETI Search (

astroengine writes: "By focusing the Green Bank radio telescope on stars hosting (candidate) exoplanets identified by NASA's Kepler space telescope, it is hoped that one of those star systems may also play host to a sufficiently evolved alien race capable of transmitting radio signals into space. But in a study headed by ex-SETI chief Jill Tarter, the conclusion of this first attempt is blunt: “No signals of extraterrestrial origin were found.” But this is the just first of the "directed" SETI searches that has put some very important limits on the probability of finding sufficiently advanced alien civilizations in our galaxy."

Submission + - Deloitte: Use a longer password in 2013. Seriously. ( 1

clustro writes: Deloitte predicts that eight character passwords will become insecure in 2013. Humans have trouble remembering passwords with more than 7 characters, and it is difficult to enter long, complex passwords into mobile devices. Users have not adapted to increased computing power available to crackers, and continue to use bad practices such as using common and short passwords, and re-using passwords across multiple websites. A recent study showed that using the 10000 most common passwords would have cracked >98% of 6 million user accounts. All of these problems have the potential for a huge security hazard. Password vaults are likely to become more widely used out of necessity. Multifactor authentication strategies, such as phone texts, iris scans, and dongles, are also likely to become more widespread, especially by banks.

Submission + - Facebook's Graph Search: Kiss Your Privacy Goodbye (

Nerval's Lobster writes: "Software developer Jeff Cogswell is back with an extensive under-the-hood breakdown of Facebook's Graph Search, trying to see if peoples' privacy concerns about the social network's search engine are entirely justified. His conclusion? "Some of the news articles I’ve read talk about how Graph Search will start small and slowly grow as it accumulates more information. This is wrong—Graph Search has been accumulating information since the day Facebook opened and the first connections were made in the internal graph structure," he writes. "People were nervous about Google storing their history, but it pales in comparison to the information Facebook already has on you, me, and roughly a billion other people." There's much more at the link, including a handy breakdown of graph theory."

Submission + - Astronomers Want to Hunt Down Earth's Mini-Moons (

astroengine writes: "The Earth has one permanent moon — you know, "The Moon" — but at any given time there are thought to be two temporary interlopers that were once asteroids, but get captured by our planet's gravity to become mini-moons for a few months or even years. They eventually get flung back out into interplanetary space. This ultimate "catch and release" provides an interesting opportunity for any future asteroid mission. So now astronomers want to find them, possibly using the newly-minted Hubble-class spy telescopes donated to NASA by the National Reconnaissance Office."

Submission + - Summer Programming Courses before heading off to college?

LiteWait writes: My son is heading off to college next year and although he is bright kid with a great background in math and science, he has indicated that he'd like learn some introductory programming skills this summer. The courses at the local universities are pretty sparse and most of the CS101-type courses I've seen offered are too general to meet his needs. Even though he is a self-starter I think he would benefit from actual courses/code camps/etc rather than just slogging through online samples and tutorials. I'd like some advice on possible options for code camps, online courses, or developer training?

Submission + - Programmer Interrupted (

gameweld writes: Some key findings from a study of 10,000 programming sessions recorded from 86 programmers using Eclipse and Visual Studio:
A programmer takes between 10-15 minutes to start editing code after resuming work from an interruption.
When interrupted during an edit of a method, only 10% of times did a programmer resume work in less than a minute.
A programmer is likely to get just one uninterrupted 2-hour session in a day.

First Person Shooters (Games)

Submission + - Reading Minds to Predict Game Addictiveness (

kgeiger writes: Researchers at Taiwan's Institute of Information Science, Academia Sinica are measuring emotional reactions caught in facial expressions to determine whether a game will be addictive. From TFA:

It’s difficult to evaluate an online game’s addictiveness prior to the release, says [Researcher Seng-Wei] Chen. The gaming industry’s approach is simply based on designers’ intuition and experience and the feedback from focus groups, the latter of which could be limited and biased.

Chen’s team, composed of researchers at the institute and at the electrical engineering department of National Taiwan University, aims to help game publishers avoid risky or blind investments. Using archival game data and dozens of electromyography (EMG) experiments, they constructed a forecasting model that predicts a game’s ability to retain active players for a long time.

The team reported their findings at the November 2012 IEEE/ACM Netgames conference.

Submission + - ISPs Must Suspend Data Caps Until They Can Count ( 1

stox writes: ""Public Knowledge is calling on all ISPs who use data caps to suspend them until an outside auditor can certify that their data usage meters are accurate. ISPs have no business imposing data caps on consumers without the ability to accurately determine how much data consumers are actually using.""

Submission + - UK to install Probes to Spy on Netizens (

hypnosec writes: A new report published by Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee, UK shows how the country is planning to spy on its netizens as they use services such as Facebook, Twitter, Skype and the likes. According to the government, in a bid to fight against terrorism and other crimes, swift access to communications data is required through the use of latest technological innovations. The UK plans to install 'probes' along the communications network in a bid to log everything from web surfing data to Skype calls.
Data Storage

Submission + - Bitcasa's infinite online hard drive: Interesting idea, rough around the edges (

MrSeb writes: "Online storage service Bitcasa opened its doors this week, promising an end to external storage or pesky online capacity limits. The company’s pitch is simple: You give them $99 per year, they give you infinite storage space online. The deal is currently being offered for $69, which comes out to $5.75 a month. That’s it. No capacity limits. No additional charge for certain file types or for web/smartphones. File version history? Infinite. Want backup and mirroring of existing data? You can get that, too. Bitcasa promises an online drive that seamlessly integrated with Windows Explorer, giving you all the benefits of local storage for substantially less money. That was enough to pique ExtremeTech's curiosity, and to take the service for a spin. What it found was a genuinely interesting and valuable service, but there are a lot of bugs that need to be ironed out before you should recommend it to your friends and family."

Submission + - TI Rethinks Graphing Calculators as iPad Apps (

KermMartian writes: "Yesterday, TI spoke about two new apps they've introduced for the iPad. These attempt to replicate the functionality of their TI-Nspire CX and TI-Nspire CX CAS graphing calculators, without quite being emulators. They tout the large screen and ability to drag graphs as part of its appeal to help make math more visual and intuitive. Of course, they also acknowledge that since iPads aren't allowed on standardized tests, their handheld calculators aren't going anywhere."

Submission + - Radical new Space drive ( 2

Noctis-Kaban writes: Scientists in China have built and tested a radical new space drive. Although the thrust it produces may not be enough to lift your mobile phone, it looks like it could radically change the satellite industry. Satellites are just the start: with superconducting components, this technology could generate the thrust to drive everything from deep space probes to flying cars. And it all started with a British engineer whose invention was ignored and ridiculed in his home country.

Submission + - Thumb on the scale? Broadband usage measurements are not accurate for 5 of 7. (

stox writes: "For the 64 percent of Americans whose internet service provider imposes a broadband cap, and for those lucky enough to have a meter, I have some bad news. The president of the firm who audits many of the country’s broadband meters says that he can’t certify the measurements produced by five out of seven of his clients’ meters because they don’t count your bits correctly."

Submission + - LibreOffice 4 Released (

Titus Andronicus writes: LibreOffice 4.0.0 has been released. Some of the changes are for developers: an improved API, a new graphics stack, migrating German code comments to English, and moving from Apache 2.0 to LGPLv3 & MPLv2. Some user-facing changes are: better interoperability with other software, some functional & UI improvements, and some performance gains.

Submission + - Is Apple now the PC leader? Depends on your definition of PC ( 1

tsamsoniw writes: "While research companies including IDC and Gartner deemed HP the PC leader for Q4 2012, Canalys has a different perspective. The analyst firm has declared Apple the top PC vendor for the past quarter, thanks in part to the booming success of the iPad and the iPad mini. By Canalys's reckoning, Amazon, too, now beats out the likes of Acer and Asus as a leading PC vendors, having shipped 4.6 million Kindles in Q4."

Submission + - Florida University to Offer Degree in Space Operations

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has announced plans to launch the nation's first ever bachelor's degree in Commercial Space Operations tosupply the commercial spaceflight industry with skilled graduates in the areas of space policy, operations, regulation and certification, as well as space flight safety, and space program training, management and planning."As a leading innovator and service provider within the aerospace industry, Embry-Riddle is committed to building an academic program that supports the emerging needs of commercial space enterprise," says Richard H. Heist, chancellor of Embry-Riddle's Daytona Beach campus. "This first-of-its-kind degree program would continue to solidify our students’ spot at the forefront of an industry that is sure to grow for decades to come."The rapid expansion of commercial spaceflight operations is fostered by NASA's commercial cargo and crew development programs and by entrepreneurs developing capabilities for suborbital spaceflight, orbital space habitats, space resource prospecting and other commercial ventures."Embry-Riddle's new Commercial Space Operations degree is one of the most innovative non-engineering degrees in the aerospace industry," adds program coordinator Lance Erickson, a professor of applied aviation sciences at Embry-Riddle."When we were planning this degree, our advisors from the commercial space industry said they couldn't wait to hire our graduates.""

Submission + - Researchers opt to limit uses of open-access publications (

ananyo writes: "How open do researchers want open-access papers to be? Apparently, not that open — when given a choice of licenses, most opt to limit the use of data and words in their open-access publications, according to figures released by the open-access journal Scientific Reports.
Since July 2012 the journal has been offering researchers a choice of three types of license. The first, most liberal license, CC-BY, allows anyone, even commercial organizations, to re-use it. A more restrictive version, CC-BY-NC-SA, lets others remix, tweak and build on work if they give credit to the original author, but only for non-commercial (NC) purposes, and only if they license what they produce under the same terms (SA, or 'share-alike’). A third licence, CC-BY-NC-ND, is the most restrictive, allowing others to download and share work, but not to change it in any way (ND, ‘no derivative works’), or use it commercially.
The results from Scientific Reports shows that, for the 685 papers accepted by the journal, authors chose either of the more restrictive licences 95% of the time — and the most restrictive, CC-BY-NC-ND, 68% of the time."

The Military

Submission + - Handheld Black Hornet Nano drones issued to U.K. soldiers (

cylonlover writes: Drones have become a valuable asset for any military force in recent years for both combat and surveillance. But while scanning a warzone from miles away is great from a tactical standpoint, unmanned aircraft can be just as useful in the hands of troops on the ground. That's why British soldiers in Afghanistan have been issued several Black Hornet Nanos, a palm-sized UAV that can scout around corners and obstacles for hidden dangers. Each UAV measures just 4 x 1 inches (10 x 2.5cm) and weighs a mere 0.6 ounces (16 grams), making it easy for troops to carry along with the rest of their gear. A built-in camera transmits live video and still images to a handheld control unit at a range of up to half a mile (800 meters).

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