Programming

Remember the Computer Science Past Or Be Condemned To Repeat It? 479

Posted by Soulskill
from the never-get-involved-in-a-land-war-in-COBOL dept.
theodp writes "In the movie Groundhog Day, a weatherman finds himself living the same day over and over again. It's a tale to which software-designers-of-a-certain-age can relate. Like Philip Greenspun, who wrote in 1999, 'One of the most painful things in our culture is to watch other people repeat earlier mistakes. We're not fond of Bill Gates, but it still hurts to see Microsoft struggle with problems that IBM solved in the 1960s.' Or Dave Winer, who recently observed, 'We marvel that the runtime environment of the web browser can do things that we had working 25 years ago on the Mac.' And then there's Scott Locklin, who argues in a new essay that one of the problems with modern computer technology is that programmers don't learn from the great masters. 'There is such a thing as a Beethoven or Mozart of software design,' Locklin writes. 'Modern programmers seem more familiar with Lady Gaga. It's not just a matter of taste and an appreciation for genius. It's a matter of forgetting important things.' Hey, maybe it's hard to learn from computer history when people don't acknowledge the existence of someone old enough to have lived it, as panelists reportedly did at an event held by Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us last Friday!"
Businesses

Alcatel-Lucent Cuts Go Deeper — 7,500 Jobs Gone and Counting 78

Posted by Soulskill
from the sorry-about-your-luck dept.
Dawn Kawamoto writes "Alcatel-Lucent has cut 7,500 jobs since the start of the year — a couple thousand more than what employees of the embattled telecom equipment maker may have been expecting. Last summer, Alcatel-Lucent said it expected to cut over 5,000 jobs by the end of 2013. Well, cuts have gone deeper than that, and the company's newly minted CEO, Michel Combes, told Wall Street during the second quarter earnings call Tuesday to expect additional cuts and the related cost savings in the coming quarters."
Google

Google Argues Against Net Neutrality 555

Posted by Soulskill
from the here-is-your-internet-connection-but-don't-use-it-for-internet dept.
An anonymous reader sends this quote from an article at Wired: "In a dramatic about-face on a key internet issue yesterday, Google told the FCC (PDF) that the network neutrality rules Google once championed don't give citizens the right to run servers on their home broadband connections, and that the Google Fiber network is perfectly within its rights to prohibit customers from attaching the legal devices of their choice to its network."
Businesses

Sad Day In FarmVille: Facebook's New Game Developer Program 52

Posted by Soulskill
from the too-bad-so-sad dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "If struggling online-games developer Zynga thought things were bad before, they could be turning a whole lot worse: Facebook is rolling out a pilot program for small- and medium-sized game developers. 'Through the program, we will work with select game developers and provide promotional support for their games in placements across our mobile apps,' reads a note on the Facebook Developers Website. Facebook is promising those developers access to the social network's '800 million monthly mobile users,' a variety of analytics tools for measuring their games' impact, and a 'unique targeting ability' for finding the right audiences — all for a cut of the games' revenue. 'We will be collaborating deeply with developers in our program by helping them cultivate high-quality, long-term players for their games,' the note added. Zynga benefited mightily from its relationship with Facebook, but other developers have subsequently realized they can utilize many of Zynga's tricks — and the social network's enormous audience — for their own ends. King is now Facebook's top app developer, largely on the strength of its Candy Crush Saga game. If Facebook encourages more small- and medium-sized developers to jump into the social gaming, it could fill the arena with even more competitors, which could prove bad news for the already-reeling Zynga. But for Facebook, the benefits are obvious: if any of those tiny-for-the-moment developers create a hit game, the revenues will come flooding in. That would supplement the social network's ad revenue, all while ensuring it doesn't need to overly depend on a single large developer with a set portfolio of games. Zynga has already been suffering from gaming-studio closings, games being shut down, and a declining user-base."
Science

Scientists Demonstrate Ultra-Fast Magnetite Electrical Switch 37

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-now-we're-vulnerable-to-magneto dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory recently demonstrated electrical switching thousands of times faster than in transistors now in use thanks to a naturally magnetic mineral called magnetite (abstract). The experiment is considered a major step forward in understanding electrical structures at the atomic level and working with recently identified electrical 'building blocks' called trimerons. The breakthrough could lead to innovations in the tiny transistors that control the flow of electricity across silicon chips, enabling faster, more powerful computing devices."
Cellphones

Moscow Subway To Use Special Devices To Read Data On Passengers' Phones 163

Posted by Soulskill
from the they'll-know-how-much-time-you-waste-on-bejeweled dept.
dryriver writes "'The head of police for Moscow's subway system has said stations will soon be equipped with devices that can read the data on the mobile telephones of passengers. In the July 29 edition of Izvestia, Moscow Metro police chief Andrei Mokhov said the device would be used to help locate stolen mobile phones. Mokhov said the devices have a range of about 5 meters and can read the SIM card. If the card is on the list of stolen phones, the system automatically sends information to the police. The time and place of the alert can be matched to closed-circuit TV in stations. Izvestia reported that 'according to experts, the devices can be used more widely to follow all passengers without exception.' Mokhov said it was illegal to track a person without permission from the authorities, but that there was no law against tracking the property of a company, such as a SIM card.' What is this all about? Is it really about detecting stolen phones/SIM cards, or is that a convenient 'cover story' for eavesdropping on people's private smartphone data while they wait to ride the subway? Also — if this scheme goes ahead, how long will it be before the U.S., Europe and other territories employ devices that do this, too?"
The Internet

Why the Internet Needs Cognitive Protocols 156

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-my-toaster-ever-tweets-i-will-throw-it-out-the-window dept.
An anonymous reader writes "We keep hearing that the 'Internet of Things' is coming – that day when we'll all have not just smart phones but also smart refrigerators, smart alarm clocks, and smart roads and bridges. A new article in IEEE Spectrum magazine makes the argument that this won't happen unless engineers do some serious rethinking of how the Internet's basic routing architecture works. The author, Anthony Liotta, offers some interesting solutions based on two networks in the human body: the autonomic nervous system and the cognitive brain."
Encryption

Google Starts Upgrading Its SSL Certificates To 2048-bit Keys 118

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google today announced it has already started upgrading all of its SSL certificates to 2048-bit keys. The goal is to beef up the encryption on the connections made to its services. Google says the upgrade, which includes the root certificate that the company uses to sign all of its SSL certificates, will be completed 'in the next few months.' Previously, however, Google was more specific and said it was aiming to finish the process by the end of 2013."
Hardware Hacking

3D Printing In Gel Enables Freeform Design and an Undo Function 33

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-go-down-and-get-a-tub-of-gel-from-walmart dept.
Zothecula writes "The additive layer process of conventional 3D printers means they are usually limited to bottom up fabrication on three axes. Now, the LA-based NSTRMNT team has created a 3D printing process called suspended disposition that gets around gravity by printing objects within a gel. Not only does this allow freeform additive fabrication on six axes, it also enables an 'undo' function."
Patents

Pinch-To-Zoom Apple Patent Rejected By USPTO 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the somebody-pinch-me-and-patent-it dept.
freddienumber13 writes "In another patent surprise, a patent application by Apple for pinch-to-zoom has been rejected by the USPTO on the grounds that its claims were either anticipated by previous patents or simply unpatentable. This will be welcome news for Samsung, who back in April asked for a stay of the trial. However, Apple has a short period of time in which they can appeal this finding."
Games

Secret Lab Develops Games and Teaches Others How to Develop Them as Well (Video) 29

Posted by Roblimo
from the no-man-is-an-island-but-these-guys-live-on-one dept.
On the Island of Tasmania, there is a Secret Lab. More accurately, it is a business called Secret Lab, run by co-founders Paris Buttfield-Addison and Jon Manning. On their website they say, “Secret Lab is an indie game developer and mobile app training studio based in Hobart, Australia. We're responsible for some of the world's most popular mobile apps -- recently, we've worked on Meebo for iPhone, ABC Play School Art Maker for iPad, ABC Good Game for iPhone and ABC Foodi for iPad. Secret Lab also offers intensive training workshops on iOS and Android development.” They recently presented at OSCON in Portland, OR, where Timothy Lord and his camcorder caught up with them there (as did Rachel Roumeliotis of O'Reilly Media with her camcorder). At just over 30 minutes, this is the longest Slashdot video interview we've ever run. It's worth the time, despite some rough sound patches, if you are interested in mobile game development -- or even if you are just interested in seeing what kind of colorful people do this sort of thing.
News

MIT Releases Swartz Report: Instead of Leading, School Was 'Hands-Off' 127

Posted by Soulskill
from the inaction-is-not-good-enough dept.
curtwoodward writes "MIT's long-awaited internal investigation into its handling of the Aaron Swartz prosecution has been released (PDF), and it's massive — about 180 pages, not counting the reams of supporting documents. And although the report's authors say they were told not to draw any conclusions about MIT's actions — really — they still gently criticized the university. Swartz, a well-known activist, killed himself earlier this year while being prosecuted for federal computer crimes after he improperly downloaded millions of academic research articles. MIT remained notably 'hands-off' throughout the case, the internal report notes, despite requests that it defend Swartz or oppose the prosecution, and ample opportunities to show leadership. The report quotes an MIT official: 'MIT didn't do anything wrong; but we didn't do ourselves proud.'" Swartz's partner, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, calls the report a whitewash.
The Courts

Bradley Manning Convicted of Espionage, Acquitted of 'Aiding the Enemy' 529

Posted by Soulskill
from the win-some-lose-some dept.
crashcy sends word that a verdict has been handed down in the case of Bradley Manning. Quoting: "A military judge on Tuesday found Pfc. Bradley Manning not guilty of aiding the enemy, but convicted him of multiple counts of violating the Espionage Act. Private Manning had already confessed to being WikiLeaks’ source for a huge cache of government documents, which included videos of airstrikes in which civilians were killed, hundreds of thousands of front-line incident reports from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, dossiers on men being held without trial at the Guantánamo Bay prison, and about 250,000 diplomatic cables. But while Private Manning had pleaded guilty to a lesser version of the charges he was facing, which could expose him to up to 20 years in prison, the government decided to press forward with a trial on a more serious version of the charges, including 'aiding the enemy' and violations of the Espionage Act. Beyond the fate of Private Manning as an individual, the 'aiding the enemy' charge — unprecedented in a leak case — could have significant long-term ramifications for investigative journalism in the Internet era."
Software

Ask Slashdot: Tags and Tagging, What Is the Best Way Forward? 142

Posted by timothy
from the spray-and-pray dept.
siliconbits writes "The debate about tagging has been going for nearly a decade. Slashdot has covered it a number of times. But it seems that nobody has yet to come up with a foolproof solution to tagging. Even luminaries like Engadget, The Verge, Gizmodo and Slashdot all have different tagging schemes. Commontag, a venture launched in 2009 to tackle tagging, has proved to be all but a failure despite the backing of heavyweights like Freebase, Yahoo and Zemanta. Even Google gave up and purchased Freebase in July 2010. Somehow I remain convinced that a unified, semantically-based solution, using a mix of folksonomy and taxonomy, is the Graal of tagging. I'd like to hear from fellow Slashdotters as to how they tackle the issue of creating and maintaining a tagging solution, regardless of the platform and the technologies being used in the backend." A good time to note: there may be no pretty way to get at them, but finding stories with a particular tag on Slashdot is simple, at least one at a time: Just fill in a tag you'd like to explore after "slashdot.org/tag/", as in "slashdot.org/tag/bizarro."
Censorship

Bahrain Activists Battered By IP Tracking Attacks 48

Posted by timothy
from the couldn't-happen-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Having been targeted by malware in the past, anti-government protesters in Bahrain are now being hit hard by IP tracking attacks, according to a researcher. Bill Marczak, of Bahrain Watch and Citizen Lab, who is putting together a report on the attacks, said it appeared Bahrain officials had been masquerading as fake activists, sending obfuscated URLs to targets to learn their IP address. The next step is to take the IP address and the time of the click to the relevant ISP to find out who the user is. Then all sorts of things can happen. 'People who have clicked on these links have suffered various types of consequences ranging from having their houses raided and being charged for saying insulting things about the king on Twitter, or losing their jobs,' says Marczak. 'It looks like, from our investigation so far, in one case, the government did lock up the wrong person.'"
GNU is Not Unix

German Court Finds Fantec Responsible For GPL Violation On Third-Party Code 228

Posted by timothy
from the keep-your-friends-close dept.
ectoman writes "Are firms responsible for GPL violations on code they receive from third parties? A German court thinks so. The Regional Court of Hamburg recently ruled that Fantec, a European media player maker, failed to distribute 'complete corresponding source code' for firmware found in some of its products. Fantec claims its third-party firmware supplier provided the company with appropriate source code, which Fantext made available online. But a hackathon organized by the Free Software Foundation Europe discovered that this source code was incomplete, and programmer Harald Welte filed suit. He won. Mark Radcliffe, an IP expert and senior partner at DLA Piper who specializes in open source licensing issues, has analyzed the case—and argued that it underscores the need for companies to implement internal GPL compliance processes. 'Fantec is a reminder that companies should adopt a formal FOSS use policy which should be integrated into the software development process,' he writes. 'These standards should include an understanding of the FOSS management processes of such third-party suppliers. The development of a network of trusted third-party suppliers is critical part of any FOSS compliance strategy.'"
Earth

What's Stopping Us From Eating Insects? 655

Posted by timothy
from the there-will-never-be-a-fast-food-place-called-thoraxes-etc. dept.
Lasrick writes "Scientific American has a really nice article explaining why insects should be considered a good food source, and how the encroachment of Western attitudes into societies that traditionally eat insects is affecting consumption of this important source of nutrients. Good stuff." Especially when they're so easy to grow.
Communications

Sprint May Have Unlimited Data Plans, But Not Unlimited Customers 207

Posted by timothy
from the get-busy-living-or-get-busy-dying dept.
mitcheli writes "Sprint announced a Q2 loss of $1.6B as 2 million subscribers left their service. While Sprint remains one of very few carriers to continue to allow unlimited data on their networks, the failure to reconcile two competing network technologies (iDEN Nextel and CDMA Sprint) combined with the lack of upgrades to their network and degrading service prompted a mass exodus of subscribers from their network. Of course the fact that during the iPhone 5 release, Sprint openly advertised that their iPhone would not be carrier locked, only to turn around and push out an OTA two months later that locked them probably didn't help much either."
Software

The Old Reader To Close Public Site In Two Weeks (Unless It Doesn't) 93

Posted by timothy
from the old-ways-is-best-ways dept.
An anonymous reader writes "When Google first announced Google Reader would be shut down, the news kick-started a very competitive race to create the best alternative. At least one service, however, did not welcome the change, and is now planning to close up shop next month: The Old Reader. In fact, if you navigate to the service's homepage now, you'll be greeted by this sad message: "Unfortunately we had to disable user registration at The Old Reader." In two weeks, the public site will be shut down and a private one, available to a select few (accounts will be migrated automatically), will take its place." An update on the story says "We have received a number of proposals that we are discussing right now. Chances are high that public The Old Reader will live after all," so a reprieve may be possible.
Transportation

Second SFO Disaster Avoided Seconds Before Crash 248

Posted by timothy
from the why-passengers-clap-on-landing dept.
sabri writes "On July 25th, flight EVA28, a Boeing 777 flying from Taiwan to SFO, was on the final approach for runway 28L when they were alerted by ATC that they were only at 600ft above the ground at less than 4NM from the threshold. SFO's tower directed the flight crew to climb immediately and declare missed approach. Assuming they were flying at 140 knots (typical approach speed of a 777), they were less than 2 minutes from the runway and at a 3 degree angle (approx 500ft/min descent), about a minute from impact. This is the same type of aircraft and runway used by the crashed Asiana flight. Similar weather conditions and awfully similar flight path. Is there a structural problem with computer-aided pilot's ability to fly visual approaches?"
Censorship

Russia Proposes Banning Foul Language On the Internet 239

Posted by timothy
from the nsa-and-uk-have-ruined-all-soviet-union-jokes dept.
eldavojohn writes "In a country where it's illegal to insult a government official, State Duma Deputy Yelena Mizulina has proposed an amendment to ban swearing on social networks, bulletin boards and all websites. The website would be blocked if the offending material had not been removed within 24 hours. The name of the law this would be added to? "On the protection of children from information harmful to their health and development." Mizulina's title in regards to this legislation? Chairwoman of the Committee on Family, Women and Children (No joke!). Of course, Yelena Mizulina is no stranger to unwarranted censorship as she was behind the law banning gay propaganda to minors and invoked laws to try to silence critics on twitter. The article also notes, 'United Russia deputy Vitaly Milonov put forward a similar initiative on 25 July. He proposed to tighten control over social networks and allow people to dating sites through their passports.'"
Stats

Ubuntu Edge Smartphone Funding Trends Low 251

Posted by timothy
from the hard-pace-to-maintain dept.
alphadogg writes "The first heady rush of support for Canonical's crowd-funded Ubuntu Edge smartphone appears to have tapered off, as donations for the eye-catching device have slowed substantially over the past several days. The project sits just above the $7 million mark at the time of this writing – a large sum by the standards of crowd-funded projects, to be sure, but the $32 million goal is still a long way off. The Edge is slightly, but measurably, behind schedule – by about $600,000, according to a tracking graph made by Canonical's Gustavo Niemeyer. However, there's speculation that wealthy Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth might contribute some of his personal fortune to the project." The campaign has already broken records with its spectacular first few days. I hope that Shuttleworth does kick in to make production feasible, because the idea and the design are impressive — but I'm leery of spending quite so much on any phone.
Programming

22nd International Obfuscated C Code Contest Starts Thursday 1 Aug 2013 48

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the only-the-most-confusing dept.
achowe writes "The 22nd International Obfuscated C Code Contest opens 2013-Aug-01 03:14:15 UTC through to 2013-Oct-03 09:26:53 UTC. The rules have been updated, in particular Rule 2 (size rule) has changed. The draft rules and guidelines are available online. In addition there is now an IOCCC Size Rule Tool to aid with counting the secondary size rule. Questions and comments for the Judges can be emailed to q.2013@ioccc.org and must include 'IOCCC 2013' in the subject. Or contact them via Twitter @IOCCC." Anyone planning on entering?
Bitcoin

Thailand Government Declares Bitcoin Illegal 185

Posted by timothy
from the money-with-government-that's-unheard-of dept.
hypnosec writes that the government of Thailand "has declared Bitcoin illegal following which all trading activities related to the electronic currently have been suspended indefinitely. Through a message posted on its website, the Bitcoin Co. Ltd. has said officials of the Foreign Exchange Administration and Policy Department cited absence of applicable laws, capital controls "and the fact that Bitcoin straddles multiple financial facets" as reasons because of which the virtual currency is illegal. This ruling implies that activities such as buying & selling of Bitcoins, buying or selling any service in exchange of Bitcoins, sending Bitcoins to anyone located outside of Thailand, and receiving Bitcoins from anyone outside of Thailand are illegal. This has forced the company to indefinitely suspend operations."
Medicine

How Outdated Data Distorts Doctors' Pay 336

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the name-your-price dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Peter Whoriskey and Dan Keating report at the Washington Post that Medicare annually pays $69.6 billion for physician services according to an arcane and little-known price list, known as the Relative Value Update over which doctors themselves exercise considerable and less-than-totally-transparent influence. A 31-member committee of the American Medical Association (AMA) recommends what Medicare should pay for some 10,000 procedures — with the fees based in part on how long it takes to complete each one. But this time-and-motion study often fails to take full account of changing technology and other factors affecting physician productivity, so anomalies result. For example, if the AMA time estimates are correct, then 41 percent of gastroenterologists were typically performing 12 hours or more of procedures in a day, which is longer than the typical outpatient surgery center is open and and one gastroenterologist in the Post story would have to work 26 hours, according to the committee time estimates, to accomplish what he gets done in a typical workday. Here's how it works: Medicare pays for a 15-minute colonoscopy as if it took 75 minutes resulting in a median salary for a gastroenterologist of $481,000. It is possible that in 1992, critics allow, when the price list was first developed, a colonoscopy actually took something close to 75 minute when doctors had to hunch over an eyepiece similar to that of a microscope for a look. But technology has advanced and now the images are processed and displayed on a large screen in high-definition video. Responding to criticism that the nation's method of valuing medical procedures misprices payments, a bipartisan group of legislators has drafted a bill that would reshape the way the nation pays doctors. The bill would require Medicare officials to collect data such as how much time doctors spend doing procedures and reducing the doctor payment for overvalued services. 'What started as an advisory group has taken on a life of its own,' says Tom Scully, who was Medicare chief during the George W. Bush Administration. 'The idea that $100 billion in federal spending is based on fixed prices that go through an industry trade association in a process that is not open to the public is pretty wild.'"
Government

Lawmakers Who Upheld NSA Phone Spying Received Double the Defense Industry Cash 284

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the business-as-usual dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The numbers tell the story — in votes and dollars. On Wednesday, the House voted 217 to 205 not to rein in the NSA's phone-spying dragnet. It turns out that those 217 'no' voters received twice as much campaign financing from the defense and intelligence industry as the 205 'yes' voters."
Microsoft

Microsoft Expands MAPP, Shares Attack Data With Incident Responders 18

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the negative-three-day-vulnerability dept.
Trailrunner7 writes "Microsoft is expanding its MAPP program that shares attack and protection information with other security vendors and will now be sharing some data with incident responders, as well. The new system will enable organizations such as CERTs and internal IR teams to exchange information on specific attacks and general threats. Now, Microsoft is expanding and changing the MAPP program so that more people will have access to some of the data and the information will be available earlier. Until now, MAPP members get access to patch data 24 hours before the release. Microsoft will be giving that information to MAPP companies three business days before Patch Tuesday going forward. The new MAPP for Responders program is an extension of the existing system and is designed to allow incident response teams to share information among themselves and to benefit from the threat intelligence that Microsoft has, as well."
Businesses

Apple Retailer Facing Class Action Suit Over Employee Bag Checks 353

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the unpaid-labor dept.
aitikin writes "Former Apple employees say the company requires workers to stand around without pay for up to 30 minutes a day while waiting for managers to search their bags for stolen merchandise." The filing. It looks pretty illegal: mandatory unpaid checks of personal belongings before and after work and all breaks.
Security

Students Hijack $80 Million Superyacht With GPS Spoofing 75

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the going-back-to-star-charts dept.
mask.of.sanity writes "A team of university students have hijacked an $80 million superyacht using GPS spoofing without tripping alarms. The experiment (run with permission) saw the White Rose sail from Monaco to the island of Rhodes in the Mediterranean. Faint GPS signals broadcast from a spoofing device slowly overpowered authentic signals allowing the students control over the yacht's navigational system."