An anonymous reader writes "IE6. Several governments and big companies I know use software dependent on IE6. They won't upgrade, citing the expensive cost. Do you know what's more expensive than upgrading? Downgrading to the old system they had before they upgraded! You see, before computers, companies used to have room full of people manually calculating and processing stuff. It wasn't until the computer came that they could fire all those people and save a ton of money on their collective salaries. Now, my question is: what happened to that money they saved? Even a small portion of the money saved over the years could be used to upgrade ancient systems to modern standards. However, big organizations keep citing million-dollar upgrade costs as why they won't do it. Aren't they also losing money by working with inefficient, outdated systems?"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "We're seeing a new revolution in artificial intelligence known as deep learning: algorithms modeled after the brain have made amazing strides and have been consistently winning both industrial and academic data competitions with minimal effort. 'Basically, it involves building neural networks — networks that mimic the behavior of the human brain. Much like the brain, these multi-layered computer networks can gather information and react to it. They can build up an understanding of what objects look or sound like. In an effort to recreate human vision, for example, you might build a basic layer of artificial neurons that can detect simple things like the edges of a particular shape. The next layer could then piece together these edges to identify the larger shape, and then the shapes could be strung together to understand an object. The key here is that the software does all this on its own — a big advantage over older AI models, which required engineers to massage the visual or auditory data so that it could be digested by the machine-learning algorithm.' Are we ready to blur the line between hardware and wetware?"
New submitter Diakoneo writes "According to the BBC, 'Visual effects master Ray Harryhausen, whose stop-motion wizardry graced such films as Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans, has died aged 92. The American animator made his models by hand and painstakingly shot them frame by frame to create some of the best-known battle sequences in cinema.' Some of my fondest cinematic memories from my youth are from Ray Harryhausen."
Nerval's Lobster writes "As we discussed yesterday, Adobe plans on focusing the bulk of its software-development efforts on its Creative Cloud offering, with no plans to further update its 'boxed' Creative Suite products. The move isn't surprising, considering the tech industry's general movement toward the cloud over the past few years. Creative Cloud will cost $19.99 per month for a 'single app' version that features the full version of 'selected apps,' 20GB of cloud storage, and limited access to services. Those who opt for the 'complete' version will pay $49.99 per month for every Creative Cloud app, 20GB of cloud storage, and full access to services; it also requires an annual commitment. At that price, it would take a little over two years for a customer spending $49.99 per month to exceed the full retail cost of box-based Adobe Creative Suite 6, which currently retails for $1299.99 at Staples and $1100-1200 on Amazon. In a recent interview with Mashable, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen insisted that the Creative Cloud's cost to customers is lower, especially since they won't have to pay for cloud storage and other services — never mind that 20GB doesn't carry anyone far when it comes to visual design. However much customers stand to benefit from the cloud, it's easy to see that, over a long enough timeline, and with the right financial model in place, the companies providing those services stand to benefit even more than they did with boxed software. That's liable to make just as many people angry as happy, no?" Update: 05/08 03:29 GMT by S :Changed prices involved to reflect standard versions of Creative Suite, rather than the discounted Student & Teacher editions.
jones_supa writes "Microsoft has confirmed to be preparing to reverse course over elements of Windows 8. 'Key aspects' of how the software is used will be changed when Microsoft releases an updated version of the operating system this year, Tami Reller, head of marketing and finance for the Windows business, said in an interview with the Financial Times. Referring to difficulties many users have had with mastering the software, she added: 'The learning curve is definitely real.'" While this decision is generally being framed as a frantic backtrack for Microsoft, it comes as the company has recently passed 100 million Windows 8 licenses sold. Clearly they see this as more of a course adjustment than bailing water from a sinking ship. Microsoft also plans to preview the update called 'Windows Blue' in June.
mlingojones writes "The CSS Zen Garden — an attempt to showcase the power of CSS, from ye olden days when most sites used tables for layout, when CSS2 was bleeding edge, when IE5 was the most popular web browser — turns 10 today. In celebration, the maintainer Dave Shea is reopening the project for submissions, with a focus on CSS3 and responsive design."
New submitter briancox2 writes with news that all internet traffic from Syria has disappeared. Umbrella Security Labs explains: "Routing on the Internet relies on the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). BGP distributes routing information and makes sure all routers on the Internet know how to get to a certain IP address. When an IP range becomes unreachable it will be withdrawn from BGP, this informs routers that the IP range is no longer reachable. For example, one of the name servers for the DNS zone .SY is ns1.tld.sy with IP address 126.96.36.199. Normally our routers would expect a BGP route for 188.8.131.52/18. Currently that route has disappeared and we no longer have a way to reach the nameservers for .SY that reside in Syria. ... Currently there are just three routes in the BGP routing tables for Syria, while normally it’s close to eighty. ... Effectively, the shutdown disconnects Syria from Internet communication with the rest of the world."
Sean Hollister at The Verge was recently outfitted with Google Glass, and he provides a report on some basic usage. There's a learning curve — the device relies heavily on what information you push from your phone, so if you haven't thought through every use-case, you'll find yourself reaching for your phone fairly often. Hollister took Glass on the road for use as a kind of heads-up display while driving, and he says it felt awesome, but dangerous. "You have to look directly at what you're photographing, so you won't be getting any safe photographs unless they're photos of the road. More importantly, Glass' ability to look up important information on the go is extremely thin right now. ... While I loved having turn-by-turn directions from Google Maps navigation floating in my peripheral vision, the display wasn't bright enough for me to see those directions while looking out the windshield of my car. I had to glance up towards the car's ceiling, or place a hand behind the cube to see where I was going. ... When another person called, I was able to pick up easily enough by tapping Glass at my temple, but the bone-conducting speaker wasn't loud enough to hear over the noise of the car. I had to enunciate extremely clearly and loudly for Glass to interpret my voice searches correctly." Hollister says Glass has a lot of potential — the things that don't work well are at least close. CNET's Scott Stein also provided a detailed perspective on how Glass works for somebody who already wears glasses: "I can see the screen with some twiddling. Glass can end up tipping to the side, and I need to prop it up with my fingers, since the nose piece isn't seated on my nose any longer."
The first trailer has been released for the movie adaptation of Orson Scott Card's sci-fi classic Ender's Game. It gives us a good look at Harrison Ford as Colonel Graff, Ben Kingsley as Mazer Rackham, and Hugo's Asa Butterfield as Ender. It also demonstrates just how much money they put into the special effects for this movie.
another random user writes "Facebook is reportedly introducing video advertisements to News Feeds this summer. Reports in the Financial Times (registration required) say that the clips will last for around 15 seconds, and the first one users see each day will play automatically. The first video will apparently play without audio, and restart if the account holder chooses to activate sound. Facebook is yet to officially confirm the move, but the report claims that the social network will gradually introduce video advertising to minimize user disruption. The company's most lucrative marketing partners, including American Express, Coca Cola, Ford, Diageo and Nestle, are expected to be the first brands to make use of the feature. Facebook is said to have implemented the strategy in a bid to take a slice out of TV ad revenue by undercutting the sector."
An anonymous reader writes "BitTorrent has come up with a new way to sell music. It's called BitTorrent Bundle, and it puts the music store alongside the torrent. At last, someone has come up with a way to turn all us entitled, lawless downloaders into paying customers. BitTorrent thinks of BitTorrent Bundle as a sort of 21st century band flyer. Post a torrent with a handful of live tracks from your latest tour, Bundle it with a store that lets your groupies buy the full album." Put simply, the idea is that bands publish a basic torrent with a few songs as a teaser. When users download that .torrent file from BitTorrent.com, they're shown a page asking for something — money, an email address, or social media interaction — in exchange for the rest of the album (or other bonus content). If they comply, they get a different .torrent file. It's not intended as a guard against piracy, but as a way to link up content creators with the torrenters who are actually willing to pay.
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has been thinking about bringing autonomous driving technology to Tesla's electric cars. Quoting Bloomberg: "Musk, 41, said technologies that can take over for drivers are a logical step in the evolution of cars. He has talked with Google about the self-driving technology it’s been developing, though he prefers to think of applications that are more like an airplane’s autopilot system. 'I like the word autopilot more than I like the word self- driving,' Musk said in an interview. 'Self-driving sounds like it’s going to do something you don’t want it to do. Autopilot is a good thing to have in planes, and we should have it in cars.' ... Google’s approach builds on a push for the driverless-car technology long pursued by the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which held vehicle competitions for carmakers and research labs. Anthony Levandowski, product manager for Google’s self-driving car project, has said the company expects to release the technology within five years. 'The problem with Google’s current approach is that the sensor system is too expensive,' Musk said. 'It’s better to have an optical system, basically cameras with software that is able to figure out what’s going on just by looking at things.' ... 'I think Tesla will most likely develop its own autopilot system for the car, as I think it should be camera-based, not Lidar-based,' Musk said yesterday in an e-mail. 'However, it is also possible that we do something jointly with Google.'" Musk later warned not to take this as an actual announcement.
astroengine writes "The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera carried by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has spotted a strange geological feature that, for now, defies an obvious explanation. Found at the southern edge of Acidalia Planitia, small pits with raised edges appear to hug a long ridge. So far, mission scientists have ruled out impact craters and wind as formation processes, but have pegged the most likely cause to be glacial in nature."
wiredmikey writes "A new report from the Pentagon marked the most explicit statement yet from the United States that it believes China's cyber espionage is focused on the U.S. government, as well as American corporations. China kept up a steady campaign of hacking in 2012 that included attempts to target U.S. government computer networks, which could provide Beijing a better insight into America's policy deliberations and military capabilities, according to the Pentagon's annual assessment of China's military. 'China is using its computer network exploitation capability to support intelligence collection against the U.S. diplomatic, economic, and defense industrial base sectors that support U.S. national defense programs,' said the report to Congress (PDF). The digital espionage was part of a broader industrial espionage effort that seeks to secure military-related U.S. and Western technology, allowing Beijing to scale back its reliance on foreign arms manufacturers, the report said. One day later, Beijing dismissed the Pentagon's report that accused it of widespread cyberspying on the U.S. government, rejecting it as an 'irresponsible' attempt to drum up fear of China as a military threat."
halfEvilTech writes "CenturyLink, the nation's third largest telco network, is experiencing an outage of its broadband service nationwide, leaving its support systems overwhelmed and even causing its website to hit a few snags this morning. The company, which at last count has 5.8 million broadband subscribers, has no estimates yet on how long it will take to restore service." CenturyLink is the company that will be providing the Defense Department with the equivalent of Internet2.
First time accepted submitter ememisya writes "Ever thought it might be a good idea to store encrypted data in a QRCode video? Using this technique one could easily store 10GB of data to be available anywhere in the world, and completely free."
SternisheFan writes with an excerpt from Ars Technica: "Attacks exploiting a previously unknown and currently unpatched vulnerability in Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser have spread to at least nine other websites, including those run by a big European company operating in the aerospace, defense, and security industries as well as non-profit groups and institutes, security researchers said. The revelation, from a blog post published Sunday by security firm AlienVault, means an attack campaign that surreptitiously installed malware on the computers of federal government workers involved in nuclear weapons research was broader and more ambitious than previously thought. Earlier reports identified only a website belonging to the US Department of Labor as redirecting to servers that exploited the zero-day remote-code vulnerability in IE version 8. ... 'The specific Department of Labor website that was compromised provides information on a compensation program for energy workers who were exposed to uranium,' CrowdStrike said. 'Likely targets of interest for this site include energy-related US government entities, energy companies, and possibly companies in the extractive sector. Based on the other compromised sites other targeted entities are likely to include those interested in labor, international health and political issues, as well as entities in the defense sector.'"
kkleiner writes "The modern mailing system can seem like magic, but the systems in place to reliably get boxes from A to B is a marvel of logistics. Now, a Dutch designer named Ruben van der Vleuten has unraveled the mystery for non-postal employees by installing a camera within a parcel to record the journey."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Tech firms are engaging in several non-traditional hiring methods, from programming contests to finding the right people via algorithm. One of the more popular methods: set up a coding challenge or programming contest to bring out interested parties, with the top prize being a trip to the sponsoring company's headquarters to interview for a job. Look at what Facebook is doing in this area, sponsoring several Kaggle.com programming contests to find the best programmers; it also makes use of the site InterviewStreet to screen potential applicants. In theory, any company can build and run a contest online. But is it really the best way to go about hiring a programmer (or any other tech-minded employee, for that matter)?"
An anonymous reader writes "A new report details the analysis of more than 450 million lines of software through the Coverity Scan service, which began as the largest public-private sector research project focused on open source software integrity, and was initiated between Coverity and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2006. Code quality for open source software continues to mirror that of proprietary software — and both continue to surpass the industry standard for software quality. Defect density (defects per 1,000 lines of software code) is a commonly used measurement for software quality. The analysis found an average defect density of .69 for open source software projects, and an average defect density of .68 for proprietary code."
judgecorp writes "BT Retail has started testing Carrier Grade NAT (CGNAT) with its customer. CGNAT is a controversial practice, in which IP addresses are shared between customers, limiting what customers can do on the open Internet. Although CGNAT goes against the Internet's original end-to-end principles, ISPs say they are forced to use it because IPv4 addresses are running out, and IPv6 is not widely implemented. BT's subsidiary PlusNet has already carried out CGNAT trials, and now BT is trying it on "Option 1" customers who pay for low Internet usage."
Deathspawner writes "There's little that's more frustrating than being a legal customer and getting screwed over by the company you're supporting. If there's a perfect example of this, it's with Microsoft's OS and its millions of customers that have had to ring its tech support lines for activation help. Recently, a Techgage writer got bit by an issue with Windows 8 — caused by Microsoft itself — and wasn't even able to call to fix it. Microsoft has two problems to solve here: it needs online chat support (like most large companies in 2013) and it definitely needs an activation system that doesn't make things difficult for its legal customers on a too-regular basis."
schwit1 quotes The Washington Post: "The Senate aimed to help traditional retailers and financially strapped state and local governments Monday by passing a bill that would widely subject online shopping — for many a largely tax-free frontier — to state sales taxes. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 69 to 27, getting support from Republicans and Democrats alike." schwit1 adds "Unfortunately online businesses could be in for a rude awakening when it comes to the law's interpretation." Passage in the House is not certain, and companies like eBay are lobbying to raise the minimum sales required to collect state sales tax to $10 million instead of $1 million per year.
SternisheFan tipped us to news that the infamous copyright trolls Prenda Law are in a bit of trouble with the law. Today, U.S. District Court judge Otis Wright issued sanctions against Prenda. He recommends that the lawyers involved be disbarred and fined, granted court and lawyer fees to the defendants (doubled for punishment), and has referred them for criminal prosecution. Among the findings of fact are that they set up dozens of shell companies to disguise the true owners, actually committed identity theft, dodged taxes on settlement money, lied to the court, and abused the court by setting settlements on flimsy charges just below the cost of a defense.
sciencehabit writes "If you've ever cringed when your parents said 'groovy,' you'll know that spoken language can have a brief shelf life. But frequently used words can persist for generations, even millennia, and similar sounds and meanings often turn up in very different languages. Now, a new statistical approach suggests that peoples from Alaska to Europe may share a linguistic forebear dating as far back as the end of the Ice Age, about 15,000 years ago. Indeed, some of the words we use today may not be so different than those spoken around campfires and receding glaciers."
wiredmikey writes "A group of researchers from Northwestern University and North Carolina State University tested ten of the most popular AV products on Android, and discovered that they were easily fooled by common obfuscation techniques. In a paper (PDF), the researchers said they tested AV software from several well-know security vendors. In order to evaluate the mobile security software, the researchers developed a tool called DroidChameleon, which applies transformation techniques to Android applications. Known malware samples were transformed to generate new variants that contain the exact malicious functions as before. These new variants were then passed to the AV products, and much to the surprise of the paper's authors, they were rarely flagged — if at all. According to the research, 43% of the signatures used by the AV products are based on file names, checksums or information obtained by the PackageManager API. This means that, as mentioned, common transformations will render their protection useless for the most part. For example, the researchers transformed the Android rootkit Droid Dream for their test. DroidDream is a widely-known and highly dangerous application. Yet, when it was transformed, every AV program failed to catch at least two variants."