Esther Schindler writes "It's certainly fun to pretend to find work inspiration from our favorite SF films. That's what Carol Pinchefsky does in two posts, one about positive business lessons you can take away from SF films (such as 'agile thinking can save many a project (and project manager) in a crisis' from Robocop and team motivation lessons from Buffy), and the other, 5 Project Management Horror Stories Found in Sci-Fi Movies, with examples of the impact of poor documentation on Captain America."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
sfcrazy writes "The newly formed company has opened the next chapter of its history by bagging $23 million financing from A16Z (Andreessen Horowitz). CyanogenMod was recently incorporated as a company after getting Benchmark Capital and Redpoint Ventures as partners and raising $7 million in funding."
mrspoonsi writes with this excerpt from Business Insider: "This morning, Mark Zuckerberg announced plans to give 18 million Facebook shares to charity by the end of the month. Facebook is currently trading at $55 per share, so Zuckerberg's gift is worth just under $1 billion. The money will go toward Zuckerberg's foundation, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and The Breakthrough Prize In Life Science, a [Nobel] Prize-like award. Zuckereberg is giving his shares away as part of a secondary stock offering from Facebook. Reuters says Zuckerberg will sell 41.4 million shares, reducing his voting power in the company from 58.8% to 56.1%. Other insiders selling include board member Marc Andreessen, who will sell 1.65 million shares. Facebook is selling 27 million."
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from a Reuters report shedding light on one consequence of increasing knowledge of the extent of U.S. government spying: "Brazil awarded a $4.5 billion contract to Saab AB on Wednesday to replace its aging fleet of fighter jets, a surprise coup for the Swedish company after news of U.S. spying on Brazilians helped derail Boeing's chances for the deal. ... The timing of the announcement, after more than a decade of off-and-on negotiations, appeared to catch the companies involved by surprise. Even Juniti Saito, Brazil's top air force commander, said on Wednesday that he only heard of the decision a day earlier in a meeting with President Dilma Rousseff. Until earlier this year, Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet had been considered the front runner. But revelations of spying by the U.S. National Security Agency in Brazil, including personal communication by Rousseff, led Brazil to believe it could not trust a U.S. company."
New submitter ttyler writes "It turns out a MacBook's built-in camera can be activated without turning on the green LED. An earlier report suggested the FBI could activate a device's camera without having the light turn on, and there was a case in the news where a woman had nude pictures taken of her without her knowledge. The new research out of Johns Hopkins University confirms both situations are possible. All it takes are a few tweaks to the camera's firmware."
cartechboy writes "The state of California will give Tesla Motors a $34.7 million tax break to expand the company's production capacity for electric cars, state officials announced yesterday. Basically, Tesla won't have to pay sales taxes on new manufacturing equipment worth up to $415 million. The added equipment will help Tesla more than double the number of Model S sedans it builds, as well as assemble more electric powertrains for other car makers. In addition to continued Model S production, Tesla plans to introduce the Model X electric crossover in late 2014, as well as a sub-$40,000 car — tentatively called Model E — that could debut as soon as the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. It turns out California is one of the few states to tax the purchase of manufacturing equipment — but the state grants exemptions for 'clean-tech' companies."
An anonymous reader writes with news of the latest major fluctuation in the price people are willing to pay for Bitcoins. From the article: "China's ban on its financial institutions handling bitcoin causes world's largest exchange to cease trading, halving the value of the currency from $1,000 to less than $500 in a matter of days. The country's central bank took a hard line on Bitcoin in early December when it banned financial institutions from handling the decentralized crypto-currency, and as a result BTC China, the world's largest bitcoin exchange, has stopped accepting deposits from its users." Just watch that line trend downward.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Guardian reports that while President Obama tried to portray a meeting with tech leaders as a wide-ranging discussion of broader priorities including ways of improving the functionality of the troubled health insurance website Healthcare.gov, senior executives from Apple, Yahoo, Google, Comcast, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and Netflix said they were determined to keep the discussion focused on the NSA. 'We are there to talk about the NSA,' said one executive who was briefed on the company's agenda before the event. After meeting Obama and vice president Joe Biden for two-and-a-half hours, the companies issued a one-line statement. 'We appreciated the opportunity to share directly with the president our principles on government surveillance that we released last week and we urge him to move aggressively on reform.' Many of the senior tech leaders had already made public their demand for sweeping surveillance reforms in an open letter that specifically called for a ban on the kind of bulk data collection that a federal judge ruled on Monday was probably unlawful. Obama seemed sympathetic to the idea of allowing more disclosure of government surveillance requests by technology companies, according to a tech industry official who was briefed on the meeting. Marissa Mayer brought up concerns about the potentially negative impact that could be caused if countries, such as Brazil, move forward with legislation that would require service providers to ensure that data belonging to a citizen of a certain country remain in the country it originates, the official said. That would require technology companies to build data centers in each country — a costly problem for American Internet companies. The decision by the tech giants to press their case in such a public and unified way poses a problem for the White House. The industry is an increasingly influential voice in Washington, a vital part of the US economy and many of its most successful leaders are prominent Democratic political donors."
BigVig209 writes "In a follow-up to a story we discussed in May, the Chicago Tribune is reporting that London-based Datawind it will begin selling its $38 UbiSlate tablet computer in the U.S. early next year. 'The $38 7-inch touchscreen UbiSlate 7Ci tablet runs on Google's Android 4.0 and features a 1-gigahertz, single-core processor. It has 4 gigabytes of storage with microSD card slots for additional storage. The 7-inch display offers a resolution of 800x480 pixels.' The specs aren't the greatest, fastest, or most powerful, but, for under $50, they're still pretty decent."
mrspoonsi writes "Business Insider Reports: The National Security Agency described for the first time a cataclysmic cyber threat it claims to have stopped On Sunday's '60 Minutes.' Called a BIOS attack, the exploit would have ruined, or 'bricked,' computers across the country, causing untold damage to the national and even global economy. Even more shocking, CBS goes as far as to point a finger directly at China for the plot — 'While the NSA would not name the country behind it, cyber security experts briefed on the operation told us it was China.' The NSA says it closed this vulnerability by working with computer manufacturers. Debora Plunkett, director of cyber defense for the NSA: One of our analysts actually saw that the nation state had the intention to develop and to deliver — to actually use this capability — to destroy computers."
tsu doh nimh writes "Security experts have long opined that one way to make software more secure is to hold software makers liable for vulnerabilities in their products. This idea is often dismissed as unrealistic and one that would stifle innovation in an industry that has been a major driver of commercial growth and productivity over the years. But a new study released this week presents perhaps the clearest economic case yet for compelling companies to pay for information about security vulnerabilities in their products. Stefan Frei, director of research at NSS Labs, suggests compelling companies to purchase all available vulnerabilities at above black-market prices, arguing that even if vendors were required to pay $150,000 per bug, it would still come to less than two-tenths of one percent of these companies' annual revenue (PDF). To ensure that submitted bugs get addressed and not hijacked by regional interests, Frei also proposes building multi-tiered, multi-region vulnerability submission centers that would validate bugs and work with the vendor and researchers. The questions is, would this result in a reduction in cybercrime overall, or would it simply hamper innovation? As one person quoted in the article points out, a majority of data breaches that cost companies tens of millions of dollars have far more to do with other factors unrelated to software flaws, such as social engineering, weak and stolen credentials, and sloppy server configurations."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Washington Post reports that in Germany, Amazon's second-biggest market behind the United States, hundreds of Amazon.com workers went on strike just as pre-Christmas sales were set to peak, in a dispute over pay and conditions that has raged for months. Amazon, which employs 9,000 warehouse staff members in Germany plus 14,000 seasonal workers at nine distribution centers, says that 1,115 employees joined the strike at three sites. 'Amazon must realize it cannot export its anti-union labor model to European shores. We call on the company to come to the table and sign a global agreement that guarantees the rights of workers,' says Philip Jennings of the global trade union UNI. Verdi organized several short stoppages this year to try to force Amazon to accept collective-bargaining agreements ... The union says Amazon workers receive lower wages than others in retail and mail-order jobs and that other retailers pay overtime, but Amazon does not. 'What Amazon is doing is taking this American race-to-the-bottom roadshow to Germany and trying it out on our German brothers and sisters,' says David Freiboth. Amazon has defended its wage policies, saying that employees earn toward the upper end of the pay scale of logistics companies in Germany. Amazon also says it prefers to address employment issues with worker councils at individual sites rather than through negotiations with the union. Amazon says that there have been no delays to deliveries ... adding that Amazon uses its whole European logistics network during the Christmas period to ensure delivery times. A delegation of German workers was set to rally at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle along with U.S. unions. 'We're standing in solidarity with them. We are asking that Amazon respect the union there in Germany and negotiate in a way that is acceptable to Verdi,' says Kathy Cummings of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, which was also attending the protest in Seattle."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Alan Schwarz writes in the NYT that the rise of ADHD diagnoses and prescriptions for stimulants over the years have coincided with a remarkably successful two-decade campaign by pharmaceutical companies to publicize the syndrome and promote the pills to doctors, educators and parents. 'The numbers make it look like an epidemic. Well, it's not. It's preposterous,' says Dr. Keith Conners, a psychologist who has led the fight to legitimize attention deficit hyperactivity disorder for more than fifty years. Few dispute that classic ADHD, historically estimated to affect 5 percent of children, is a legitimate disability that impedes success at school, work and personal life. But recent data from the CDC show that the diagnosis had been made in 15 percent of high school-age children, and that the number of children on medication for the disorder had soared to 3.5 million from 600,000 in 1990." (Read on for more.)
An anonymous reader writes "Horowhenua Libraries Trust has successfully challenged a 2011 decision to let American company Liblime PTFS trademark in New Zealand the word Koha, the name of its library management system. That application was approved by the then Ministry of Economic Development, a decision appealed by the Horowhenua Library Trust and software firm Catalyst IT. A judgment delivered by assistant commissioner of trademarks Jennie Walden found the two pieces of software were largely the same and that it was likely a 'substantial number' of people would be confused or deceived if Liblime used the Koha trademark." Here's a previous Slashdot article discussing the PTFS/Liblime's trademark application.
An anonymous reader writes "The OpenBSD project has no reason to follow the steps taken by FreeBSD with regard to hardware-based cryptography because it has already been doing this for a decade, according to Theo de Raadt. 'FreeBSD has caught up to what OpenBSD has been doing for over 10 years,' the OpenBSD founder told iTWire. 'I see nothing new in their changes. Basically, it is 10 years of FreeBSD stupidity. They don't know a thing about security. They even ignore relevant research in all fields, not just from us, but from everyone.'"
SpaceX and NASA have reached an agreement (though negotiations on the details are ongoing) for the private space company to lease NASA's launch pad 39A. SpaceX rival Blue Origin had also sought the launch pad for its own use. From the article: "During the selection process, Blue Origin had filed a petition to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The spaceflight company was claiming that NASA was favoring single-use of the launch pad which was designed as a multi-user facility. ... The GAO decided on Thursday that the petition has no basis, which prompted NASA to proceed with its decision process. The next day, the space agency informed both companies that it is granting the exclusive lease to SpaceX."
Jah-Wren Ryel writes "IBM Corp has been sued by the Louisiana Sheriffs' Pension & Relief Fund which accused it of concealing how its ties to what became a major U.S. spying scandal reduced business in China and ultimately caused its market value to plunge more than $12 billion." While anyone can file a lawsuit, being sued by an institutional investor is a little different than being sued by John Q. Disgruntled.
First time accepted submitter totally_mad writes "The New York Times reports that Google has acquired Boston Dynamics, a company that is primarily a concept robot maker for the military. The robot wars appear to be heating up between the big corporations, with Amazon recently announcing plans to have 30-minute home deliveries using drones. Perhaps Boston Dynamics', or now Google's, Cheetah will outrun the drone!"
jones_supa writes "The most widely used cellphone encryption cipher A5/1 can be easily defeated by the National Security Agency, an internal document shows. This gives the agency the means to intercept most of the billions of calls and texts that travel over radiowaves every day, even when the agency would not have the encryption key. Encryption experts have long known the cipher to be weak and have urged providers to upgrade to newer systems. Consequently it is also suggested that other nations likely have the same cracking capability through their own intelligence services. The vulnerability outlined in the NSA document concerns encryption developed in the 1980s but still used widely by cellphones that rely on 2G GSM. It is unclear if the agency may also be able to decode newer forms of encryption, such as those covered under CDMA."
An anonymous reader writes "The company making the VR headset that has John Carmack and many others in the gaming industry excited has just received another $75 million in funding to make it happen. Netscape founder Marc Andreessen is joining the company's board, along with fellow investor Chris Dixon. Dixon had seen a prototype earlier this year, but it wasn't good enough to spark his interest. After recently seeing how the device has progressed since then, he was blown away, comparing it to early demos of the iPhone. 'The dimensions where you need to improve this kind of VR are latency, resolution and head tracking, and they have really nailed those things.' Now that the device is in good shape, Oculus is going to work on turning it into a product they can produce and ship for gamers."