Data Storage

Software-Defined Data Centers Might Cost Companies More Than They Save 173

storagedude writes "As more and more companies move to virtualized, or software-defined, data centers, cost savings might not be one of the benefits. Sure, utilization rates might go up as resources are pooled, but if the end result is that IT resources become easier for end users to access and provision, they might end up using more resources, not less. That's the view of Peder Ulander of Citrix, who cites the Jevons Paradox, a 150-year-old economic theory that arose from an observation about the relationship between coal efficiency and consumption. Making a resource easier to use leads to greater consumption, not less, says Ulander. As users can do more for themselves and don't have to wait for IT, they do more, so more gets used. The real gain, then, might be that more gets accomplished as IT becomes less of a bottleneck. It won't mean cost savings, but it could mean higher revenues."

Samsung Develops World's Fastest Embedded Memory With eMMC 5.0 Support 77

hypnosec writes "Samsung has announced the world's fastest NAND memory that supports the eMMC 5.0 standard. The new memory chips are based on 10nm class NAND flash technology and feature an interface speed of 400MB/s. Further, the 32GB and 64GB densities have a random read and write speed of 7,000 IOPS (inputs/outputs per second) while the sequential read and write speeds stand at 250MB/s and 90MB/s respectively. The chips will provide for better multitasking, HD video recording, gaming and browsing."

Dentist Who Used Copyright To Silence Her Patients Drops Out of Sight 260

According to a report at Ars Technica, a dentist named Stacy Makhnevich, who billed herself as "the Classical Singer Dentist of New York," threatened patients who wrote bad Yelp reviews with lawsuits, along the same lines as the online dental damage-control outlined in a different Ars story in 2011. This time, though, there's something even stranger than bargaining with patients to forgo criticism: when a patient defied that demand by describing his experience in negative terms on Yelp, Makhnevich followed up on the threat by seeking a takedown order based on copyright (putatively signed over to her for any criticism that patients might write, post-visit) — then disappeared entirely when lawyers for patient Robert Lee filed a class-action lawsuit challenging the validity of the agreement.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Signs Point To XKCD's Time Ending 226

CaptSlaq writes "According to the current imagery, it looks like Randal Munroe has finished the story he was telling with the Time series. The long running series that has spanned over 3000 images and spawned multiple methods of viewing and comment appears to have come to an end."

Steve "CyanogenMod" Kondik Contemplates The Death of Root On Android 240

c0d3g33k writes "Prompted by the addition of new security features in Android 4.3 that limit the effectiveness of elevated privileges, Steve Kondik wonders which uses really require full root. Most common activities that prompt owners to root their devices (backup/restore tools, firewall/DNS resolver management, kernel tuning), could be accomplished without exposing root, argues Kondik, by providing additional APIs and extensions to the user. This would improve security by limiting the exposure of the system to exploits. Reasonable enough, on the face of it. The title of the post, however, suggests that Kondik believes that eventually all useful activities can be designed into the system so the 'dangerous and insecure' abilities provided by root/administrator privileges aren't needed. This kind of top-down thinking seems a bit troubling because it leads to greater control of the system by the developer at the expense of the owner of the device. It's been said that the best tools are those that lend themselves to uses not anticipated by the creator. Reducing or eliminating the ability of the owner to use a device in ways that are unanticipated ultimately reduces its potential power and usefulness. Perhaps that's what is wanted to prevent an owner from using the device in ways that are inconvenient or contrary to an established business model."

Robot Produces Paintings With That 'Imperfect' Human Look 74

kkleiner writes "An artistic robotic system named e-David has been developed that produces paintings that appear to be created by humans. Using an iterative process of brush strokes and image comparison, e-David's assembly line welder arm can paint in up to 24 colors and add shading where needed. The robot even cleans its five brushes along the way, according to University of Konstanz researchers who developed the system as an exercise in machine learning."

Consumer Rights Groups Take Issue With NTIA Code of Conduct For Mobile Apps 31

MojoKid writes "On Friday, we learned that the mobile industry has developed a short-form notice for mobile apps that tells users if the app is collecting their data and in what areas (i.e., phone call and text logs, location data, and so on) that would appear before app download begins. The program is currently voluntary and being tested, and although on the surface it seems like a step forward for consumer protection, some industry consumer rights groups are opposed to it. Jeffrey Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) told us that, with respect to all the work that the industry put into the plan, he doesn't believe the new code of conduct will actually do much for consumers. "The process ignored the actual mobile app business practices, and refused to engage in the testing that's required," he said. "Words on a small screen--even if better than long and hard to find privacy policies--doesn't mean anything unless we know it tells users: one, what data is actually collected and how it is to be used, and two, whether they will see it in the first place.""

NASA's Garver Proposes Carving Piece Off Big Asteroid For Near-Earth Mining 110

MarkWhittington writes "According to a July 26, 2013 story in Space News, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver mused about what appeared to be a change to the space agency's asteroid snatching mission at the NewSpace 2013 conference. Apparently the idea is to send a robot to a larger asteroid than originally planned, carve out a chunk of it, and then bring it to lunar orbit for an crew of astronauts to visit in an Orion space ship. Garver's proposed change would widen the number of target asteroids and would test technologies important for asteroid mining. But it would also increase the complexity and certainly the cost of the asteroid mission. There are a lot of unanswered questions, such as what kind of mechanism would be involved in taking a piece of an asteroid and moving it? At the same conference Garver had hinted at a willingness to consider mounting a program of "sustainable" lunar exploration, as some in Congress have demanded, concurrent with the asteroid mission."

Microsoft's Math-Challenged STEM Education Contest 96

theodp writes "As noted earlier, Microsoft is tackling the CS education crisis with a popularity contest that will award $100K in donations to five technology education nonprofits that help make kids technically literate. Hopefully, the nonprofits will teach kids that the contest's voting Leader Board is a particularly good example of what-not-to-do technically. In addition to cherry-picking the less-pathetic vote totals to make its Leader Board, Microsoft also uses some dubious rounding code that transforms the original voting data into misleading percentages. Indeed, developer tools reveal that the top five leaders in the Microsoft STEM education contest miraculously account for 130% of the vote. Let's hope the quality control is better for those Microsoft Surface voting machines!"
Hardware Hacking

Google TV Hackers Open a Shell on the Chromecast; More Hacks To Follow 65

Via Engadget comes the news that Google's latest (and quickly sold-out) toy, the Chromecast, may soon be hacked out of one-trick-pony status; just a few days after it came out, the folks at GTV Hacker have successfully turned their attention to the Chromecast, and managed to exploit the device's bootloader and spawn a root shell. Some interesting findings, as explained in their blog post: "[I]t’s actually a modified Google TV release, but with all of the Bionic / Dalvik stripped out and replaced with a single binary for Chromecast. Since the Marvell DE3005 SOC running this is a single core variant of the 88DE3100, most of the Google TV code was reused. So, although it’s not going to let you install an APK or anything, its origins: the bootloader, kernel, init scripts, binaries, are all from the Google TV. We are not ruling out the ability for this to become a Google TV 'stick.'"

Ask Slashdot: High-School Suitable Books On How Computers Affect Society? 140

An anonymous reader writes "We are teaching an introductory class in computer science for high school students. We have the technical aspects of the course covered, there is a lot of information on the internet on designing that aspect of the class. We also want to cover some aspects of how computers affect society, privacy, expectations, digital divide etc. We were suggested Blown to Bits, which covers a lot of this but I'm not sure high school students are really going to enjoy it or even take away the right implications ... any recommendations for anything else ? Movies, Fiction, Non-Fiction Books and any other media are all welcome. Students are expected to read no more than 200 pages (that's all the time they have)."

GMO Oranges? Altering a Fruit's DNA To Save It 358

biobricks writes "A New York Times story says the Florida orange crop is threatened by an incurable disease and traces the efforts of one company to insert a spinach gene in orange trees to fend it off. Not clear if consumers will go for it though." The article focuses on oranges, but touches on the larger world of GMO crop creation as well.

Same Programs + Different Computers = Different Weather Forecasts 240

knorthern knight writes "Most major weather services (US NWS, Britain's Met Office, etc) have their own supercomputers, and their own weather models. But there are some models which are used globally. A new paper has been published, comparing outputs from one such program on different machines around the world. Apparently, the same code, running on different machines, can produce different outputs due to accumulation of differing round-off errors. The handling of floating-point numbers in computing is a field in its own right. The paper apparently deals with 10-day weather forecasts. Weather forecasts are generally done in steps of 1 hour. I.e. the output from hour 1 is used as the starting condition for the hour 2 forecast. The output from hour 2 is used as the starting condition for hour 3, etc. The paper is paywalled, but the abstract says: 'The global model program (GMP) of the Global/Regional Integrated Model system (GRIMs) is tested on 10 different computer systems having different central processing unit (CPU) architectures or compilers. There exist differences in the results for different compilers, parallel libraries, and optimization levels, primarily due to the treatment of rounding errors by the different software systems. The system dependency, which is the standard deviation of the 500-hPa geopotential height averaged over the globe, increases with time. However, its fractional tendency, which is the change of the standard deviation relative to the value itself, remains nearly zero with time. In a seasonal prediction framework, the ensemble spread due to the differences in software system is comparable to the ensemble spread due to the differences in initial conditions that is used for the traditional ensemble forecasting.'"

Google Engineer Wins NSA Award, Then Says NSA Should Be Abolished 297

First time accepted submitter MetalliQaZ writes "Last week, Dr. Joseph Bonneau learned that he had won the NSA's first annual "Science of Security (SoS) Competition." The competition, which aims to honor the best 'scientific papers about national security' as a way to strengthen NSA collaboration with researchers in academia, honored Bonneau for his paper on the nature of passwords. And how did Bonneau respond to being honored by the NSA? By expressing, in an honest and bittersweet blog post, his revulsion at what the NSA has become: 'Simply put, I don't think a free society is compatible with an organisation like the NSA in its current form.'"

A Circular New York City Subway Map To Straighten Things Out 124

Daniel_Stuckey writes "The U.K.'s Max Roberts, a mapmaker and critic, has created a map that sees this problem and then solves it by adopting a similar distortion strategy to the MTA map, but to a far greater degree. The map heads in the direction of a diagram and away from a map representing features. It may be the most lucid reinterpretation of the New York City subway map I've seen yet."

Russian Vehicle Delivers Spacesuit Repair Kit To ISS 39

A Russian spacecraft has successfully delivered new supplies to the ISS. Crucially, its payload is meant to prevent a repeat of the aborted spacewalk of earlier this month. Says the article:: "The cargo ship is loaded with nearly 3 tons (2.7 tonnes) of food, fuel, hardware and science experiment equipment for the six-person crew of the station's Expedition 36 mission. Among its cargo is a set of tools intended to help the astronauts investigate and patch up the spacesuit that malfunctioned during a July 16 spacewalk outside the orbiting laboratory."

Tim Cook May Not Know Why, But Samsung Is Winning in China 327

An anonymous reader writes with this interesting snippet about the state of mobile tech in China: "Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook believes that 'over the arc of time' China is a huge opportunity for his pathbreaking company. But time looks to be on the side of rival Samsung Electronics, which has been around far longer and penetrated much deeper into the world's most populous country. Apple this week said its revenue in Greater China, which also includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, slumped 43 per cent to $4.65 billion from the previous quarter. That was also 14 per cent lower from the year-ago quarter. Sales were weighed down by a sharp drop in revenues from Hong Kong. "It's not totally clear why that occurred," Cook said on a conference call with analysts. Neither is it totally clear what Apple's strategy is to deal with Samsung – not to mention a host of smaller, nimbler Chinese challengers."

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