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Transportation

Drunk Drivers in California May Get Mandated Interlock Devices 324

Posted by timothy
from the as-punishments-go dept.
Convicted drunk drivers all over California may soon be required to install and pay for the use of ignition interlock devices, at a cost of $50-100 per month, plus installation. Says the article: "State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, wants to expand a program already in place in four California counties, including Alameda, and 24 other states. Under the proposed state law Hill will introduce Monday, anyone convicted of driving under the influence would be required to install an ignition interlock device in their car for six months on a first offense and a year on a second conviction." Though interlock devices could be fitted to check for other conditions as well, the usual case (as described on this Wikipedia page) is that they base the ability to operate a car on blood alcohol content. Already in California, interlock devices are mandatory for those re-arrested for DUI while "driving on a suspended license due to a DUI conviction."
AMD

Phoronix Lauds AMD's Open Source Radeon Driver Progress For 2014 42

Posted by timothy
from the parity-looms dept.
Phoronix has taken an in-depth look at progress on AMD's open source Radeon driver, and declares 2014 to have been a good year. There are several pages with detailed benchmarks, but the upshot is overwhelmingly positive: Across the board there's huge performance improvements to find out of the open-source AMD Linux graphics driver when comparing the state at the end of 2013 to the current code at the end of this year. The performance improvements and new features presented (among them are OpenMAX / AMD video encode, UVD for older AMD GPUs, various new OpenGL extensions, continued work on OpenCL, power management improvements, and the start of open-source HSA) has been nothing short of incredible. Most of the new work benefits the Radeon HD 7000 series and newer (GCN) GPUs the most but these tests showed the Radeon HD 6000 series still improving too. ... Coming up before the end of the year will be a fresh comparison of these open-source Radeon driver results compared to the newest proprietary AMD Catalyst Linux graphics driver.
Open Source

Linux 3.19 Kernel To Start 2015 With Many New Features 63

Posted by timothy
from the presents-from-linus-and-friends dept.
An anonymous reader writes Linux 3.18 was recently released, thus making Linux 3.19 the version under development as the year comes to a close. Linux 3.19 as the first big kernel update of 2015 is bringing in the new year with many new features: among them are AMDKFD HSA kernel driver, Intel "Skylake" graphics support, Radeon and NVIDIA driver improvements, RAID5/6 improvements for Btrfs, LZ4 compression for SquashFS, better multi-touch support, new input drivers, x86 laptop improvements, etc.
Crime

Russian Hackers Stole Millions From Banks, ATMs 53

Posted by timothy
from the where-the-money-is dept.
An anonymous reader writes Tens of millions of dollars, credit cards and intellectual property was stolen by a new group of cyber criminals. Group-IB and Fox-IT, in a joint research effort, have released a report about the Anunak hackers group (PDF). This group has been involved in targeted attacks and espionage since 2013. Anunak targets banks and payment systems in Russia and CIS countries. In Europe, the U.S., and Latin America, criminals were mainly focusing on retail networks as well as mass media resources. Anunak is unique in that it aims to target banks and e-payment systems. The goal is to get into bank networks and gain access to secured payment systems. As a result, the money is stolen not from the customers, but from the bank itself. If they manage to infect governmental networks, they use the infrastructure for espionage.
Networking

NetworkManager 1.0 Released After Ten Years Development 164

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-things-come-for-those-who-wait dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After ten years of development focused on improving and simplifying Linux networking, NetworkManager 1.0 was released. NetworkManager 1.0 brings many features including an increasingly modernized client library, improved command-line support, a lightweight internal DHCP client, better Bluetooth support, VPN enhancements, WWAN IPv6 support, and other features.
The Almighty Buck

The Magic of Pallets 250

Posted by samzenpus
from the none-better dept.
HughPickens.com writes Jacob Hodes writes in Cabinet Magazine that there are approximately two billion wooden shipping pallets in the holds of tractor-trailers in the United States transporting Honey Nut Cheerios and oysters and penicillin and just about any other product you can think of. According to Hodes the magic of pallets is the magic of abstraction. "Take any object you like, pile it onto a pallet, and it becomes, simply, a "unit load"—standardized, cubical, and ideally suited to being scooped up by the tines of a forklift. This allows your Cheerios and your oysters to be whisked through the supply chain with great efficiency; the gains are so impressive, in fact, that many experts consider the pallet to be the most important materials-handling innovation of the twentieth century." Although the technology was in place by the mid-1920s, pallets didn't see widespread adoption until World War II, when the challenge of keeping eight million G.I.s supplied—"the most enormous single task of distribution ever accomplished anywhere," according to one historian—gave new urgency to the science of materials handling. "The pallet really made it possible for us to fight a war on two fronts the way that we did." It would have been impossible to supply military forces in both the European and Pacific theaters if logistics operations had been limited to manual labor and hand-loading cargo.

To get a sense of the productivity gains that were achieved, consider the time it took to unload a boxcar before the advent of pallets. "According to an article in a 1931 railway trade magazine, three days were required to unload a boxcar containing 13,000 cases of unpalletized canned goods. When the same amount of goods was loaded into the boxcar on pallets or skids, the identical task took only four hours." Pallets, of course, are merely one cog in the global machine for moving things and while shipping containers have had their due, the humble pallet is arguably "the single most important object in the global economy."
Microsoft

Ask Slashdot: Is an Open Source .NET Up To the Job? 421

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-steps-or-irrelevant-steps dept.
Rob Y. writes: The discussion on Slashdot about Microsoft's move to open source .NET core has centered on:

1. whether this means Microsoft is no longer the enemy of the open source movement
2. if not, then does it mean Microsoft has so lost in the web server arena that it's resorting to desperate moves.
3. or nah — it's standard Microsoft operating procedure. Embrace, extend, extinguish.

What I'd like to ask is whether anybody that's not currently a .NET fan actually wants to use it? Open source or not. What is the competition? Java? PHP? Ruby? Node.js? All of the above? Anything but Microsoft? Because as an OSS advocate, I see only one serious reason to even consider using it — standardization. Any of those competing platforms could be as good or better, but the problem is: how to get a job in this industry when there are so many massively complex platforms out there. I'm still coding in C, and at 62, will probably live out my working days doing that. But I can still remember when learning a new programming language was no big deal. Even C required learning a fairly large library to make it useful, but it's nothing compared to what's out there today. And worse, jobs (and technologies) don't last like they used to. Odds are, in a few years, you'll be starting over in yet another job where they use something else.

Employers love standardization. Choosing a standard means you can't be blamed for your choice. Choosing a standard means you can recruit young, cheap developers and actually get some output from them before they move on. Or you can outsource with some hope of success (because that's what outsourcing firms do — recruit young, cheap devs and rotate them around). To me, those are red flags — not pluses at all. But they're undeniable pluses to greedy employers. Of course, there's much more to being an effective developer than knowing the platform so you can be easily slotted in to a project. But try telling that to the private equity guys running too much of the show these days.

So, assuming Microsoft is sincere about this open source move,
1. Is .NET up to the job?
2. Is there an open source choice today that's popular enough to be considered the standard that employers would like?
3. If the answer to 1 is yes and 2 is no, make the argument for avoiding .NET.
NASA

Kepler Makes First Exoplanet Discovery After Mission Reboot 28

Posted by samzenpus
from the look-what-we-found dept.
astroengine writes NASA's Kepler space telescope has detected its first new extrasolar planet after mission engineers were able to save the mission from a premature death after two of the exoplanet hunter's four stabilizing reaction wheels failed last year. Called "K2," the extended mission arose from an "innovative idea" that appears to have given the prolific telescope a new lease on life. "Last summer, the possibility of a scientifically productive mission for Kepler after its reaction wheel failure in its extended mission was not part of the conversation," said Paul Hertz, NASA's astrophysics division director at the agency's headquarters in Washington D.C. "Today, thanks to an innovative idea and lots of hard work by the NASA and Ball Aerospace team, Kepler may well deliver the first candidates for follow-up study by the James Webb Space Telescope to characterize the atmospheres of distant worlds and search for signatures of life."
The Internet

Comcast Sued For Turning Home Wi-Fi Routers Into Public Hotspots 291

Posted by Soulskill
from the legal-hotspots dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Benny Evangelista reports at the San Francisco Chronicle that a class-action suit has been filed in District Court in San Francisco on behalf of Toyer Grear and daughter Joycelyn Harris, claiming that Comcast is "exploiting them for profit" by using their home router as part of a nationwide network of public hotspots. Comcast is trying to compete with major cell phone carriers by creating a public Xfinity WiFi Hotspot network in 19 of the country's largest cities by activating a second high-speed Internet channel broadcast from newer-model wireless gateway modems that residential customers lease from the company.

Although Comcast has said its subscribers have the right to disable the secondary signal, the suit claims the company turns the service on without permission. It also places "the costs of its national Wi-Fi network onto its customers" and quotes a test conducted by Philadelphia networking technology company Speedify that concluded the secondary Internet channel will eventually push "tens of millions of dollars per month of the electricity bills needed to run their nationwide public Wi-Fi network onto consumers." The suit also says "the data and information on a Comcast customer's network is at greater risk" because the hotspot network "allows strangers to connect to the Internet through the same wireless router used by Comcast customers."
Security

Just-Announced X.Org Security Flaws Affect Code Dating Back To 1987 172

Posted by timothy
from the we-have-a-history dept.
An anonymous reader writes Some of the worst X.Org security issues were just publicized in an X.Org security advisory. The vulnerabilities deal with protocol handling issues and led to 12 CVEs published and code dating back to 1987 is affected within X11. Fixes for the X Server are temporarily available via this Git repository.
Programming

How Relevant is C in 2014? 641

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-ask-netcraft dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Many programming languages have come and gone since Dennis Ritchie devised C in 1972, and yet C has not only survived three major revisions, but continues to thrive. But aside from this incredible legacy, what keeps C atop the Tiobe Index? The number of jobs available for C programmers is not huge, and many of those also include C++ and Objective-C. On Reddit, the C community, while one of the ten most popular programming communities, is half the size of the C++ group. In a new column, David Bolton argues that C remains extremely relevant due to a number of factors including newer C compiler support, the Internet ("basically driven by C applications"), an immense amount of active software written in C that's still used, and its ease in learning. "Knowing C provides a handy insight into higher-level languages — C++, Objective-C, Perl, Python, Java, PHP, C#, D and Go all have block syntax that's derived from C." Do you agree?
Linux

Linux 3.18 Released, Lockup Bug Still Present 106

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-it-out dept.
jones_supa writes As anticipated, Linus Torvalds officially released Linux 3.18. The new version is now out there, though that nasty lockup issue has still yet to be resolved. Dave Jones is nearing the end of dissecting the issue, but since it also affects Linux 3.17 and not too many people seem to get hit by the lockups, Linus Torvalds decided to go ahead and do the 3.18 release on schedule. Linus was also concerned that dragging out the 3.18 release would then complicate the Linux 3.19 merge window due to the holidays later this month. Now the Linux 3.19 kernel merge window is open for two weeks of exciting changes.
Advertising

French Publishers Prepare Lawsuit Against Adblock Plus 699

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-our-ads-or-else dept.
HughPickens.com writes Frédéric Filloux reports at Monday Note that two groups of French publishers, the GESTE and the French Internet Advertising Bureau, are considering a lawsuit against AdBlockPlus creator Eyeo GmbH on grounds that it represents a major economic threat to their business. According to LesEchos.fr, EYEO, which publishes Adblock Plus, has developed a business model where they offer not to block publishers' advertisements for remuneration as long as the ads are judged non-intrusive (Google Translate, Original here). "Several criteria must be met as well: advertisements must be identified as such, be static and therefore not contain animation, no sound, and should not interfere with the content. A position that some media have likened to extortion."

According to Filloux the legal action misses the point. By downloading AdBlock Plus (ABP) on a massive scale, users are voting with their mice against the growing invasiveness of digital advertising. Therefore, suing Eyeo, the company that maintains ABP, is like using Aspirin to fight cancer. A different approach is required but very few seem ready to face that fact. "We must admit that Eyeo GmbH is filling a vacuum created by the incompetence and sloppiness of the advertising community's, namely creative agencies, media buyers and organizations that are supposed to coordinate the whole ecosystem," says Filloux. Even Google has begun to realize that the explosion of questionable advertising formats has become a problem and the proof is Google's recent Contributor program that proposes ad-free navigation in exchange for a fee ranging from $1 to $3 per month. "The growing rejection of advertising AdBlock Plus is built upon is indeed a threat to the ecosystem and it needs to be addressed decisively. For example, by bringing at the same table publishers and advertisers to meet and design ways to clean up the ad mess. But the entity and leaders who can do the job have yet to be found."
Canada

Negative Online Reviews Are Not Defamation (At Least In Canada) 62

Posted by timothy
from the in-canada-at-least dept.
An anonymous reader writes A client who was dissatisfied with the service of an immigration company in Canada took her grievances online, upon which she was sued for defamation and libel by the owner of the company. A Canadian superior court has tossed out the lawsuit with the note: "One may be dissatisfied with the quality or efficiency of services but expressing one's dissatisfaction is not equivalent to defamation." The court noted: "This demand is grossly exaggerated. It flirts with frivolity and abuse within the meaning given to these words in Article 54.1 C.C.P."
Python

Which Programming Language Pays the Best? Probably Python 277

Posted by Soulskill
from the from-employer-import-dollars dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: What programming language will earn you the biggest salary over the long run? According to Quartz, which relied partially on data compiled by employment-analytics firm Burning Glass and a Brookings Institution economist, Ruby on Rails, Objective-C, and Python are all programming skills that will earn you more than $100,000 per year. But salary doesn't necessarily correlate with popularity. Earlier this year, for example, tech-industry analyst firm RedMonk produced its latest ranking of the most-used languages, and Java/JavaScript topped the list, followed by PHP, Python, C#, and C++/Ruby. Meanwhile, Python was the one programming language to appear on Dice's recent list of the fastest-growing tech skills, which is assembled from mentions in Dice job postings. Python is a staple language in college-level computer-science courses, and has repeatedly topped the lists of popular programming languages as compiled by TIOBE Software and others. Should someone learn a language just because it could come with a six-figure salary, or are there better reasons to learn a particular language and not others?
Media

Valve Rolls Out Game Broadcasting Service For Steam 92

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-the-new-espn dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Streaming live video game footage has become increasingly popular over the past several years — popular enough that Amazon was willing to shell out $970 million for Twitch.tv. Now, Valve has announced a rival: Steam Broadcasting. Users signing up for the beta test have the option to broadcast the game they're playing. They have several options about who can see their stream: invite-only, friends only, and publicly visible. Viewing a stream is currently supported by the Steam client itself, Google Chrome, and Apple Safari. It only works on Windows 7 and 8 at this point, but Valve promises support on Linux, OS X, and Windows Vista in the future.
Transportation

Ben Harris Shows off the Electric Vehicle Challenge Simulator (Video) 37

Posted by Roblimo
from the not-as-fast-as-a-tesla-but-costs-a-lot-less dept.
EVChallenge is a high school student project that converts gas cars to electric. This isn't a "someday" thing. It's already happening, and Ben has worked hard to make it so in N. Carolina. There are other people around the world doing EVChallenge, and Ben does a number of things besides EVChallenge. His Kickstarter project, for instance, was called Help Bring Back Quality Science Kits (STEM Education). It closed on October 17 after 119 backers came through with $6523, which was a lot more than Ben's modest $3500 goal. This takes us to Ben's EVChallenge simulator itself, which is a simple "breadboard" simulation of the circuitry that drives an electric car so students can learn EV (electric vehicle) principles before they work on the real thing.

This is all part of the Harris Educational effort to make science teaching fun and interesting, not just with electric cars and simulations of their circuitry, but with other kits and even training services. As Ben's Training Services page says, "Harris Educational can provide face-to-face or online training for individuals, small groups, or companies. We can also help you design and implement your own training programs." So besides the video interview here, please look at Ben's pages, this article about his work, and check some of the videos on his assorted pages. It's good stuff, especially if you have (or plan to have) kids in high school. (Alternate Video Link)
Bug

Bad Lockup Bug Plagues Linux 257

Posted by timothy
from the therefore-it-plagues-you dept.
jones_supa (887896) writes "A hard to track system lockup bug seems to have appeared in the span of couple of most recent Linux kernel releases. Dave Jones of Red Hat was the one to first report his experience of frequent lockups with 3.18. Later he found out that the issue is present in 3.17 too. The problem was first suspected to be related to Xen. A patch dating back to 2005 was pushed for Xen to fix a vmalloc_fault() path that was similar to what was reported by Dave. The patch had a comment that read "the line below does not always work. Needs investigating!" But it looks like this issue was never properly investigated. Due to the nature of the bug and its difficulty in tracking down, testers might be finding multiple but similar bugs within the kernel. Linus even suggested taking a look in the watchdog code. He also concluded the Xen bug to be a different issue. The bug hunt continues in the Linux Kernel Mailing List."
Sony

Sony To Offer Partial Refunds For PS Vita 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the step-up-for-your-slap-on-the-wrist dept.
mpicpp sends this report from the Houston Chronicle: "Hundreds of thousands of people who bought the handheld gaming console PlayStation Vita are in line for a partial refund from Sony because of questionable claims in its advertising. The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday it had reached a settlement with Sony Computer Entertainment America, the U.S.-based arm of the PlayStation business, over advertising claims that the government contended were misleading.

As part of the proposed settlement, Sony will provide refunds to those who bought the PS Vita console before June 1, 2012. They'll be eligible for either a $25 cash or credit refund — or a $50 merchandise voucher from Sony. ... Among the claims challenged by the FTC: That the pocket-sized console would revolutionize gaming mobility by allowing consumers to play their PlayStation 3 games via "remote play" on the console anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection, [and] that people could engage in "cross-platform" play by starting a game on a PlayStation 3, pausing it, and continuing the game with the PS Vita from where they left off. Not really true, the FTC said.
Space

Extreme Shrimp May Hold Clues To Alien Life On Europa 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-life-jim-but-not-as-we-know-it dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are studying a mysterious ecosystem at one of the world's deepest undersea hydrothermal vents to get clues about what life could be like on other planetary bodies, such as Jupiter's icy moon Europa, which has a subsurface ocean. At the vents, tiny shrimp are piled on top of each other, layer upon layer, crawling on rock chimneys that spew hot water. "You go along the ocean bottom and there's nothing, effectively," says Max Coleman. "And then suddenly we get these hydrothermal vents and a massive ecosystem. It's just literally teeming with life." Bacteria, inside the shrimps' mouths and in specially evolved gill covers, produce organic matter that feed the crustaceans. The particular bacteria in the vents are able to survive in extreme environments because of chemosynthesis, a process that works in the absence of sunlight and involves organisms getting energy from chemical reactions. In this case, the bacteria use hydrogen sulfide, a chemical abundant at the vents, to make organic matter. The temperatures at the vents can climb up to a scorching 842 degrees Fahrenheit (450 degrees Celsius), but waters just an inch away are cool enough to support the shrimp. The shrimp are blind, but have thermal receptors in the backs of their heads.

According to the exobiologists, these mysterious shrimps and its symbiotic bacterium may hold clues "about what life could be like on other planetary bodies." It's life that may be similar—at the basic level—to what could be lurking in the oceans of Europa, deep under the icy crust of the Jupiter moon. According to Emma Versteegh "whether an animal like this could exist on Europa heavily depends on the actual amount of energy that's released there, through hydrothermal vents." Nobody is seriously planning a landing mission on Europa yet. But the European Space Agency aims to launch its JUpiter ICy moons Explorer mission (JUICE) to make the first thickness measurements of Europa's icy crust starting in 2030 and NASA also has begun planning a Europa Clipper mission that would study the icy moon while doing flybys in a Jupiter orbit.

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