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Programming

Modeling How Programmers Read Code 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the read,-comprehend,-complain-about-the-dunce-who-wrote-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Following up on an experiment from December, Michael Hansen has recorded video of programmers of varying skill levels as the read and evaluate short programs written in Python. An eye tracker checks 300 times per second to show what they look at as they mentally digest the script. You can see some interesting differences between experts and beginners: 'First, Eric's eye movements are precise and directed from the beginning. He quickly finds the first print statement and jumps back to comprehend the between function. The novice, on the other hand, spends time skimming the whole program first before tackling the first print. This is in line with expectations, of course, but it's cool to see it come out in the data. Another thing that stands out is the pronounced effect of learning in both videos. As Eric pointed out, it appears that he "compiled" the between function in his head, since his second encounter with it doesn't require a lengthy stop back at the definition. The novice received an inline version of the same program, where the functions were not present. Nevertheless, we can see a sharp transition in reading style around 1:30 when the pattern has been recognized.'"
AT&T

How To Stop AT&T From Selling Your Private Data To Advertisers 88

Posted by Soulskill
from the step-one-don't-let-them-have-any-private-data dept.
An anonymous reader writes "AT&T is ready to follow in its rivals' footsteps and begin selling the private usage data it collects from its subscribers' phones to advertisers. The data in question is anonymized, according to AT&T, but it includes very sensitive information such as customers' locations, Web browsing history, mobile app usage and more. Privacy is something of a hot button issue right now, so it is likely that a number of AT&T subscribers would prefer to not have their private data sold to advertisers. Luckily, there is a fast and easy way to opt out of AT&T's 'External Marketing and Analytics Reporting' program."
United States

Lincoln's Surveillance State 343

Posted by Soulskill
from the abraham-lincoln-terrorist-hunter dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The N.S.A.'s program is indeed alarming — but not, from a historical perspective, unprecedented. And history suggests that we should worry less about the surveillance itself and more about when the war in whose name the surveillance is being conducted will end. In 1862, after President Abraham Lincoln appointed him secretary of war, Edwin M. Stanton penned a letter to the president requesting sweeping powers, which would include total control of the telegraph lines. By rerouting those lines through his office, Stanton would keep tabs on vast amounts of communication, journalistic, governmental and personal. On the back of Stanton's letter Lincoln scribbled his approval: 'The Secretary of War has my authority to exercise his discretion in the matter within mentioned.'"
Transportation

Boeing 777 Crashes At San Francisco Airport 506

Posted by Soulskill
from the be-safe dept.
Asiana Flight 214 from Seoul crashed while landing at San Francisco Airport today. Early reports suggest the plane was unstable as it touched down, which led to the tail of the plane breaking off. There are no official casualty reports yet, but passengers were seen walking off the plane. Preliminary estimates say one or two dead and 75 being transported to area hospitals. (Others are reporting two dead and several dozen injured.) Eyewitness report: "You heard a pop and you immediately saw a large, brief fireball that came out from underneath the aircraft," Anthony Castorani said on CNN. "At that moment, you could see that that aircraft was again starting to lift and it began to cartwheel [Ed: he likely means spinning horizontally, like a top]. The wing broke off on the left hand side. You could see the tail immediately fly off of the aircraft. As the aircraft cartwheeled, it then landed down and the other wing had broken." The media has estimated about 290 people were on board the plane. The top of the cabin was aflame at one point, but it's not known yet whether that affected the passengers. "Federal sources told NBC News that there was no indication of terrorism." Some images from the news make it look like the plane may have tried to touch down too early, hitting the seawall just before the runway.
Wireless Networking

Mount Everest Gets 4G Connectivity 125

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-place-to-work-from-when-your-power-goes-out dept.
hypnosec writes "Huawei, in collaboration with China Mobile, has successfully deployed 4G services on Mount Everest, about 5,200 meters above sea level. Announcing the development, Huawei revealed that work was completed last month and users can now access 4G services like streaming live HD videos from the base camp on the mountain."
Encryption

Ask Slashdot: Will the NSA Controversy Drive People To Use Privacy Software? 393

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-until-they-can-use-it-to-hurl-belligerent-anthropomorphic-avians dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "As the U.S. government continues to pursue former NSA contractor Edward Snowden for leaking some of the country's most sensitive intelligence secrets, the debate over federal surveillance seems to have abated somewhat — despite Snowden's stated wish for his revelations to spark transformative and wide-ranging debate, it doesn't seem as if anyone's taking to the streets to protest the NSA's reported monitoring of Americans' emails and phone-call metadata. Even so, will the recent revelations about the NSA cause a spike in demand for sophisticated privacy software, leading to a glut of new apps that vaporize or encrypt data? While there are quite a number of tools already on the market (SpiderOak, Silent Circle, and many more), is their presence enough to get people interested enough to install them? Or do you think the majority of people simply don't care? Despite some polling data that suggests people are concerned about their privacy, software for securing it is just not an exciting topic for most folks, who will rush to download the latest iteration of Instagram or Plants vs. Zombies, but who often throw up their hands and profess ignorance when asked about how they lock down their data."
Portables

Progress On the Open Laptop 57

Posted by Soulskill
from the does-it-run-crysis-yet? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Last October, we discussed Andrew 'bunnie' Huang's effort to build a complete open hardware laptop, called the Novena. bunnie has now posted a progress report on the laptop's design and construction, showing the latest revision of the board, the display, and a hack to use it as a secure router. bunnie says, 'At the end of the day, we're having fun building the laptop we always wanted — it's now somewhere between a python-scriptable oscilloscope, logic analyzer, and a laptop. I think it will be an indispensable tool for hacking, particularly for doing signal analysis which requires coordination across multiple protocol layers, complex trigger conditions and/or feedback stimulus loops. As for the inevitable question about if these will be sold, and for how muchonce we're done building the system (and, "done" is a moving target — really, the whole idea is this is continuously under development and improving) I'll make it available to qualified buyers. Because it's open-source and a bit quirky, I'm shy on the idea of just selling it to anyone who comes along wanting a laptop. I'm worried about buyers who don't understand that "open" also means a bit of DIY hacking to get things working, and that things are continuously under development."
Crime

Detroit's Emergency Dispatch System Fails 191

Posted by Soulskill
from the at-least-it-didn't-happen-somewhere-with-a-lot-of-crime dept.
dstates writes "For most of Friday, police and firefighters in Detroit were forced to operate without their usual dispatch radio when the emergency dispatch system failed. The radio system used for communication between 911 dispatchers and Detroit's police, fire and EMS crews went down around 5:30 a.m. Friday morning, causing a backlog of hundreds of calls and putting public safety at risk. Michigan State Police allowed Detroit's emergency system to use the state's communication towers, but access was restricted to top priority calls out of fear of overloading the State system. More than 60 priority-1 calls and more than 170 non-emergency calls were backed up. With no dispatch to communicate if something went wrong and backup was needed, police were forced to send officers out in pairs for safety concerns on priority-1 calls. Detroit's new police chief, James Craig, says he's 'appalled' that a redundant system did not kick in. The outage occurred only days after Craig took office. The $131 million Motorola system was installed in 2005 amid controversy over its funding. Spokesmen for Motorola said parts of the system were regularly maintained but acknowledged that backup systems had not been tested in the past two years. They said the problem was a hardware glitch in the link between dispatch and the individual radios. As of 9 p.m. Friday, a Motorola spokesman said the system was stable and the company would continue troubleshooting next week."
Mars

Patching Software on Another Planet 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-do-overs dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Sixteen years ago, the Mars Pathfinder lander touched down on Mars and began collecting about the atmosphere and geology of the Red Planet. Its original mission was planned to last somewhere between a week and a month, but it only took a few days for software problems to crop up. The engineers responsible for the system were forced to diagnose the problem and issue a patch for a device that was millions of miles away. From the article: 'The Pathfinder's applications were scheduled by the VxWorks RTOS. Since VxWorks provides pre-emptive priority scheduling of threads, tasks were executed as threads with priorities determined by their relative urgency. The meteorological data gathering task ran as an infrequent, low priority thread, and used the information bus synchronized with mutual exclusion locks (mutexes). Other higher priority threads took precedence when necessary, including a very high priority bus management task, which also accessed the bus with mutexes. Unfortunately in this case, a long-running communications task, having higher priority than the meteorological task, but lower than the bus management task, prevented it from running. Soon, a watchdog timer noticed that the bus management task had not been executed for some time, concluded that something had gone wrong, and ordered a total system reset.'"
Space

SpaceX Grasshopper Launch Filmed From Drone Helicopter 71

Posted by Soulskill
from the footage-borrowed-from-FBI dept.
garymortimer writes "SpaceX's Grasshopper flew 325 m (1066 feet) – higher than Manhattan's Chrysler Building – before smoothly landing back on the pad. For the first time in this test, Grasshopper made use of its full navigation sensor suite with the F9-R closed loop control flight algorithms to accomplish a precision landing. Most rockets are equipped with sensors to determine position, but these sensors are generally not accurate enough to accomplish the type of precision landing necessary with Grasshopper."
Shark

Why Protesters In Cairo Use Laser Pointers 303

Posted by Soulskill
from the gotta-entertain-their-cats dept.
New submitter Ahmed Shaban writes "Why do protesters in Cairo use laser pointers? At the beginning, they were used to light up snipers on rooftops. Later, it just became fashionable to use them, and such things spread very fast among the youth of Cairo, who can find the high power laser pointers for sale on the sidewalks. The article contains amazing photos of a chopper lit up by green laser pointers."
United States

Snowden Offered Asylum By Venezuelan President 380

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the zombie-hugo-chavez-wants-american-brains dept.
First time accepted submitter aBaldrich writes "Edward Snowden was offered 'humanitarian asylum' by Nicolás Maduro, the president of Venezuela. The country's official news agency reports (original Spanish, Google translation) that the decision was taken after a meeting of the presidents of Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. Maduro denounced an attempt to 'colonize' several European countries, and that he is acting 'on behalf of the dignity of the Americas.'" The Guardian confirms.
Bug

Group Chat Vulnerability Discovered in Cryptocat, Project Fixes and Apologizes 83

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the can't-catch-a-break dept.
alphadogg writes "The founder of an eavesdropping-resistant instant messaging application called Cryptocat has apologized over a now-fixed bug that made some types of messages more vulnerable to snooping. Cryptocat, which runs inside a web browser, is an open-source application intended to provide users with a high degree of security by using encryption to scramble messages. But Cryptocat warns that users should still be very cautious with communications and not to trust their life with the application. The vulnerability affected group chats and not private conversations. The encryption keys used to encode those conversations were too short, which in theory made it easier for an attacker to decrypt and read conversations." The bug report/merge request, and an analysis of the bug (although, in light of the Cryptocat's gracious response, overly acerbic and dismissive of the project).
Bitcoin

Flattr Adds Support For Funding In Bitcoin 60

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the in-case-you-wanted-give-nothing dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Swedish startup Flattr, which offers an 'online tipjar' service, has announced it has added partial support for Bitcoin: you can now fund your account with the virtual currency. Furthermore, the company is considering adding the option to withdraw in Bitcoins too, but it first wants to gauge its community's desire for the feature on Twitter."
News

Ikea Foundation Introduces Better Refugee Shelter 163

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the where-is-allen-wrench-b17 dept.
Lasrick writes "This is truly brilliant: Ikea has joined with the UN Refugee Agency to design a longer lasting flatpack shelter that includes a solar panel and UV reflecting material." From the article: "Ikea's design, a cross between a giant garden shed and a khaki canvas marquee, is formed from lightweight laminated panels that clip on to a simple frame, providing UV protection and thermal insulation. Like an Ikea product, the polymer panels come packed in a box, along with a bag of pipes, connectors and wires – and no doubt a cartoon construction manual." And they last for around three years.

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