jrepin writes "The government of Spain's autonomous region of Extremadura has begun the switch to open source of it desktop PCs. The government expects the majority of its 40,000 PCs to be migrated this year, the region's CIO Theodomir Cayetano announced on 18 April. Extremadura estimates that the move to open source will help save 30 million euro per year. Extremadura in 2012 completed the inventory of all the software applications and computers used by its civil servants. It also tailored a Linux distribution, Sysgobex, to meet the majority of requirements of government tasks. It has already migrated to open source some 150 PCs at several ministries, including those for Development, Culture and Employment."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
shaitand writes "I recently went to a renaissance festival where a man (Arthur Greenleaf Holmes) performed some of the most obscene NSFW and hilarious comedy I've seen in a long while. The show was free and he had CDs and DVDs in his bag and accepted donations. I certainly gave one. But why is this guy doing niche fairs and not HBO specials? I contacted him and he said that he would love to break out and because of his costume he has trouble and the nature of his act he has trouble getting on to traditional stages. How would you promote such an act? On further conversation he said he is an avid supporter of free flow of information and strongly encourages pirating his work far and wide. Since he is primarily interested in making money with live performance and not media sales I thought if he took this to the next level and released a DVD under a creative commons license the exposure and interest generated might help him break into new forums with his act?"
darthcamaro writes "Every networking vendor today is talking about Software Defined Networking (SDN). The basic idea is that the control of the underlying networking hardware is abstracted by software. Martin Casado helped to come up with the whole topic with his 2005 Stanford thesis (PDF). Eight years later after selling his startup Nicira to VMware for $1.2 Billion, Casado sees the term SDN meaning everything and nothing to all people. From the article: '"I actually don't know what SDN means anymore, to be honest," Casado said. Casado noted that the term SDN was coined in 2009 and at the time it did mean something fairly specific. "Now it is just being used as a general term for networking, like all networking is SDN," Casado said. "SDN is now just an umbrella term for, cool stuff in networking."'"
PuceBaboon writes "The BBC is reporting that the EU has voted to ban pesticides containing neonicotinoids for at least two years, in an effort to isolate the cause of CCD (colony collapse disorder; the alarming disappearance of bees over recent years). Despite intense lobbying by the chemical companies, a 3-million signature petition helped swing the vote in favor of the ban."
Jeremiah Cornelius writes with what looks to be part of CISPA III: Children of CISPA. From the article: "A government task force is preparing legislation that would pressure companies such as Facebook and Google to enable law enforcement officials to intercept online communications as they occur. ... 'The importance to us is pretty clear,' says Andrew Weissmann, the FBI's general counsel. 'We don't have the ability to go to court and say, "We need a court order to effectuate the intercept." Other countries have that.' Under the draft proposal, a court could levy a series of escalating fines, starting at tens of thousands of dollars, on firms that fail to comply with wiretap orders, according to persons who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. 'This proposal is a non-starter that would drive innovators overseas and cost American jobs,' said Greg Nojeim, a senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. 'They might as well call it the Cyber Insecurity and Anti-Employment Act.'"
Zothecula writes "Since the early days of space travel, a consistent complaint has been lousy coffee. Now a group of freshman engineering students at Rice University have developed a simple approach to alleviating this problem. From the article: 'The challenge was to develop a method and equipment that allows astronauts to add liquid ingredients (cream, sweetener, and lemon juice) from a foil package to another that contains black coffee or tea. No spills in microgravity can be allowed, as these have a tendency to migrate into equipment and cause faults. The Rice freshmen designed their system around the existing black coffee pouches. NASA supplied them two-ply heat sealed pouches to hold the sugar syrup and cream. The beverage and condiment pouches all have a septum which allows access to their contents without allowing any of the liquid contents to escape.'"
An anonymous reader writes "There's a persistent bias against older programmers in the software development industry, but do the claims against older developers' hold up? A new paper looks at reputation on StackOverflow, and finds that reputation grows as developers get older. Older developers know about a wider variety of technologies. All ages seem to be equally knowledgeable about most recent programming technologies. Two exceptions: older developers have the edge when it comes to iOS and Windows Phone."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Facebook's Graph Search is an ambitious project: give users the ability to search through the social network's vast webs of data via natural-language queries. But that's much easier said—so to speak—than done. Although human beings think nothing of speaking in 'natural' language, a machine must not only learn all the grammatical building-blocks we take for granted—it needs to compensate for the quirks and errors that inevitably pop up in the course of speech. The Facebook team tasked with building Graph Search also knew that the alternate option, keyword-based search, wasn't a viable one. 'Keywords, which usually consist of nouns or proper nouns, can be nebulous in their intent,' Facebook engineering manager Xiao Li wrote in an April 29 posting on Facebook's blog. 'For example, "friends Facebook" can mean "friends on Facebook," "friends who work at Facebook Inc," or "friends who like Facebook the page."' That left the team with building a natural-language interface. The posting digs deep into the elements of the backend, including everything from 'parse trees' to a lexical analysis system."
The idea of the Hackathon was to develop either Web or mobile applications that would dovetail with county services and be useful for county workers, county residents or both. The winners got cash prizes, but many people on the nine competing teams weren't aware of them until the closing awards ceremony when the three winners were announced. But then, this is a helpful part of the country where, if an old person falls down on the sidewalk, strangers will rush to her side, whip out cell phones in case a 911 call is needed, and help her to her feet. A hackathon to benefit your neighbors is nothing but an extension of that spirit. One note: Several county employees said this was the first-ever government-organized hackathon around here, but there was a Tampa Mayor's Hackathon last June, and Tampa is the biggest city in Hillsborough County. But this is all good, and Hillsborough hopes to hold a bigger (and hopefully better-publicized) hackathon next year. Meanwhile, there are more home-grown tech events around here every year. April 25 saw the 3rd annual Ignite Tampa event, which brought together people involved in "technology, arts, communications, education, non-profits, the government sector and more" to meet with "the community" -- and local venture capitalists. And the inaugural Sarasota-Bradenton BarCamp is scheduled for May 2 - 5. And so on. Lots of events, many of which combine technology and the arts, which is always a delightful mix -- and one we look forward to seeing even more of in coming years, not only in Florida but everywhere in the world.
pacopico writes "Shortly after its 2011 IPO, LinkedIn's infrastructure almost collapsed. The company had been running on decade's old technology and needed a major overhaul to keep up with other social sites. As Businessweek reports, LinkedIn initiated Project Inversion to fix its issues and has since evolved into one of the poster children for continuous development and creating open source infrastructure tools. But the story also notes that LinkedIn's technology revival has come with some costs, including constant changes that have bothered some users."
kodiaktau writes "The UK govt passed the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act which effectively makes so-called 'orphaned' content posted on social media sites public domain. Corporations now only need to have made a "diligent search" to find the owner of the content before use. From the article: 'The Act contains changes to UK copyright law which permit the commercial exploitation of images where information identifying the owner is missing, so-called "orphan works", by placing the work into what's known as "extended collective licensing" schemes. Since most digital images on the internet today are orphans - the metadata is missing or has been stripped by a large organization - millions of photographs and illustrations are swept into such schemes.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A company bought the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy website (h2g2.com) back in 2011 after the BBC decided to dispose of it as part of a cost saving measure. Although it still isn't a complete guide to to Life, The Universe and Everything, it has just celebrated its 14th birthday as a constantly expanding, user-generated work."
ehartwell writes "It's official. This morning, after WhiteKnightTwo released SpaceShipTwo at an altitude of around 50,000 feet, pilots Mark Stucky and Mike Alsbury ignited the engine for a roughly 16-second blast. After the engine cutoff, the plane coasted back to its landing back at the Mojave airport. Virgin Galactic tweeted that the pilots confirmed 'SpaceShipTwo exceeded the speed of sound on today's flight!' Its predecessor, SpaceShipOne, first went supersonic December 17, 2003."
Lucas123 writes Safe Gun Technology (SGTi) is hoping it can begin production on its version of a smart gun within the next two months. The Columbus, Ga.-based company uses relatively simple fingerprint recognition through a flat, infrared reader positioned on the weapon's grip. The biometrics reader enables three other physical mechanisms that control the trigger, the firing pin and the gun hammer. The controller chip can save from 15,000 to 20,000 fingerprints. If a large military unit wanted to program thousands of finger prints into a single weapon, it would be possible. A single gun owner could also temporarily program a friend or family member's print into the gun to go target shooting and then remove it upon returning home."
kkleiner writes "For the last 30 years, automation has enabled U.S. manufacturing output to increase and lift profits without having to add any traditional jobs. Now, in the last decade, nearly a third of manufacturing jobs are gone. As manufacturing goes the way of agriculture, the job market must shift into new types of work lest mass technological unemployment and civil unrest overtake these beneficial gains."
An anonymous reader writes "ESET researchers, together with web security firm Sucuri, have been analyzing a new threat affecting Apache webservers. The threat is a highly advanced and stealthy backdoor being used to drive traffic to malicious websites carrying Blackhole exploit packs. Researchers have named the backdoor Linux/Cdorked.A, and it is the most sophisticated Apache backdoor seen so far. The Linux/Cdorked.A backdoor does not leave traces on the hard-disk other than a modified 'httpd' file, the daemon (or service) used by Apache. All information related to the backdoor is stored in shared memory on the server, making detection difficult and hampering analysis."
An anonymous reader writes in with news about shape-shifting mobile devices unveiled by researchers from the University of Bristol's Department of Computer Science. "Prototype mobile devices that can change shape on-demand will be unveiled today and could lay down the foundation for creating high shape resolution devices of the future. The research paper (Pdf), to be presented at one of the world's most important conferences on human-computer interfaces, will introduce the term 'shape resolution' and its ten features, to describe the resolution of an interactive device: in addition to display and touch resolution. The research, led by Dr Anne Roudaut and Professor Sriram Subramanian, from the University of Bristol's Department of Computer Science, have used 'shape resolution' to compare the resolution of six prototypes the team have built using the latest technologies in shape changing material, such as shape memory alloy and electro active polymer."
John Wagger writes "When Greenheart Games released their very first game, Game Dev Tycoon (for Mac, Windows and Linux) yesterday, they did something unusual and as far as I know unique. They released a cracked version of the game, minutes after opening their Store. The pirated copy was completely same as the real copy, except that after a few hours into the game, players started noticing widespread piracy of their games in the game development simulator."
bizwriter writes "Nobody would ever say that the world of patent law is a roller coaster of excitement but every now and then something interesting happens. Take this attorney who was angry over a patent examiner's rejection of his client's application. Here are a few snippets from the lawyers letter to the examiner: 'Are you drunk? No, seriously... are you drinking scotch and whiskey with a side of crack cocaine while you "examine" patent applications? (Heavy emphasis on the quotes.) Do you just mail merge rejection letters from your home? Is that what taxpayers are getting in exchange for your services? Have you even read the patent application? I'm curious. Because you either haven't read the patent application or are... (I don't want to say the "R" word) "Special."....Your job is not a joke, but you are turning it into a regular three ring circus. If you can't motivate yourself to take your job seriously, then you need to quit and let someone else take over what that actually wants to do the job right.'"
DavidGilbert99 writes "BlackBerry is on something of a roll. It finally delivered its BlackBerry 10 platform along with the first smartphone to run the OS, the Z10 in January. This weekend saw the launch of the Q10 and there is an 'insatiable demand' for this smartphone with its physical keyboard, says BlackBerry's UK head Rob Orr."
hypnosec writes "After a week's delay Linux 3.9 has finally been made available by Linus Torvalds. Last week Torvalds released the rc8 stating that he wasn't 'comfy' releasing the final version yet and that 'another week won't hurt.' Torvalds noted in this week's announcement that last week had been very quiet as there were not many commits and the ones which were there were 'really tiny' so he went ahead with the release of Linux 3.9."
Indiana University has replaced their supercomputer, Big Red, with a new system predictably named Big Red II. At the dedication HPC scientist Paul Messina said: "It's important that this is a university-owned resource. ... Here you have the opportunity to have your own faculty, staff and students get access with very little difficulty to this wonderful resource." From the article: "Big Red II is a Cray-built machine, which uses both GPU-enabled and standard CPU compute nodes to deliver a petaflop -- or 1 quadrillion floating-point operations per second -- of max performance. Each of the 344 CPU nodes uses two 16-core AMD Abu Dhabi processors, while the 676 GPU nodes use one 16-core AMD Interlagos and one NVIDIA Kepler K20."
AchilleTalon writes "As many of you may know, there are two main competitors on the Windows platform for embedded software development, namely IAR and Keil. By embedded development, I mean development for microprocessors like the well known 8051 and the likes, not mobile platforms which include a complete OS in first place. I am seeking for alternatives to IAR and Keil in the OSS world. Even if I can find pieces of code here and there, I haven't found yet a fully integrated development platform. Does it exist? What do you use?"