Nate the greatest (2261802) writes "Just over a year has passed since Google closed Google Reader; have your reading habits changed? When Google announced in March 2013 that Google Reader would close, a number of pundits saw it as a sign of the imminent death of RSS feeds as redundant tech. But 15 months has gone by and I can't see that very much has changed. Former Google Reader users fled to any number of smaller competitors, including Feedly, which as a result quadrupled its userbase from around 4 million users to around 15 million users and 24,000 paying customers in February 2014. I can't speak for you but I am still getting my news from RSS feeds, just like I did before the Readerpocalypse. Zite might be gone and Pulse might belong to LinkedIn but RSS feeds are still around."
Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!
Graculus (3653645) writes Budgetmakers in the U.S. Senate have moved to halt U.S. participation in ITER, the huge international fusion experiment now under construction in Cadarache, France, that aims to demonstrate that nuclear fusion could be a viable source of energy. Although the details are not available, Senate sources confirm a report by Physics Today that the Senate's version of the budget for the Department of Energy (DOE) for fiscal year 2015, which begins 1 October, would provide just $75 million for the United States' part of the project. That would be half of what the White House had requested and just enough to wind down U.S. involvement in ITER. According to this story from April, the U.S. share of the ITER budget has jumped to "$3.9 billion — roughly four times as much as originally estimated." (That's a pretty big chunk; compare it, say, to NASA's entire annual budget.)
New submitter outofluck70 (1734164) writes Got an email today from Microsoft, text is below. [Note: text here edited for formatting and brevity; see the full text at seclists.org.] They are no longer going to send out emails regarding patches, you have to use RSS or keep visiting their security sites. They blame "governmental policies" as the reason. What could the real reason be? Anybody in the know? From the email: "Notice to IT professionals: As of July 1, 2014, due to changing governmental policies concerning the issuance of automated electronic messaging, Microsoft is suspending the use of email notifications that announce the following: Security bulletin advance notifications; Security bulletin summaries; New security advisories and bulletins; Major and minor revisions to security advisories and bulletins. In lieu of email notifications, you can subscribe to one or more of the RSS feeds described on the Security TechCenter website." WindowsIT Pro blames Canada's new anti-spam law.
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes You're likely familiar with the theory of how the Moon formed: a stray body smashed into our young Earth, heating the planet and flinging debris into its orbit. That debris coalesced and formed the Moon. The impact theory still holds, but a team of geochemists from the University of Lorraine in Nancy, France has refined the date, finding that the Moon is about 60 million years older than we thought. As it turns out, that also means the Earth is 60 million years older than previously thought, which is a particularly cool finding considering just how hard it is to estimate the age of our planet.
Rambo Tribble writes: "Writing in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers have found that sleeping with high ambient light levels may contribute to obesity (abstract). In a survey of 113,000 women, a high correlation was found between higher bedroom light levels and increased propensity to be overweight or obese. Excess light in the sleeping environment has long been known to adversely affect melatonin production and circadian rhythms. It is posited that such an interference with the 'body clock' may be behind these results. Although there is not yet enough evidence to call this a smoking gun, as one researcher put it, 'Overall this study points to the importance of darkness.'"
davecb (6526) writes "At Guido von Rossum's urging, Mike Bland has a look at detecting and fixing the "goto fail" bug at ACM Queue. He finds the same underlying problem in both in the Apple and Heartbleed bugs, and explains how to not suffer it again." An excerpt: "WHY DIDN'T A TEST CATCH IT? Several articles have attempted to explain why the Apple SSL vulnerability made it past whatever tests, tools, and processes Apple may have had in place, but these explanations are not sound, especially given the above demonstration to the contrary in working code. The ultimate responsibility for the failure to detect this vulnerability prior to release lies not with any individual programmer but with the culture in which the code was produced. Let's review a sample of the most prominent explanations and specify why they fall short. Adam Langley's oft-quoted blog post13 discusses the exact technical ramifications of the bug but pulls back on asserting that automated testing would have caught it: "A test case could have caught this, but it's difficult because it's so deep into the handshake. One needs to write a completely separate TLS stack, with lots of options for sending invalid handshakes.""
We recently had the chance to talk with internet rock star and former code monkey Jonathan Coulton. We asked him a number of your questions and a few of our own about music, technology, and copyright issues. Read below to see what he had to say.
cold fjord writes "National Journal reports, 'Michael Morell, the former acting director of the CIA and a member of President Obama's task force on surveillance, said ... that a controversial telephone data-collection program conducted by the National Security Agency should be expanded to include emails. He also said the program, far from being unnecessary, could prevent the next 9/11. Morell, seeking to correct any misperception that the presidential panel had called for a radical curtailment of NSA programs, said he is in favor of restarting a program that the NSA discontinued in 2011 that involved the collection of "meta-data" for internet communications. ... "I would argue actually that the email data is probably more valuable than the telephony data," ... Morell also said that while he agreed with the report's conclusion that the telephone data program, conducted under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, made "only a modest contribution to the nation's security" so far, it should be continued under the new safeguards recommended by the panel. "I would argue that what effectiveness we have seen to date is totally irrelevant to how effective it might be in the future," he said. "This program, 215, has the ability to stop the next 9/11 and if you added emails in there it would make it even more effective. Had it been in place in 2000 and 2001, I think that probably 9/11 would not have happened."' — More at Politico and National Review. Some members of Congress have a different view. Even Russian President Putin has weighed in with both a zing and a defense."
davecb writes "The Obamacare sign-up site was a classic example of managers saying 'not invented here' and doing everything wrong, as described in Poul-Henning Kamp's Center Wheel for Success, at ACM Queue." It's not just a knock on the health-care finance site, though: "We are quick to dismiss these types of failures as politicians asking for the wrong systems and incompetent and/or greedy companies being happy to oblige. While that may be part of the explanation, it is hardly sufficient. ... [New technologies] allow us to make much bigger projects, but the actual success/failure rate seems to be pretty much the same."
magic maverick writes "Reuters reports that three men were arrested for posting anti-Semitic comments on Twitter following the English Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United in October, police said on Friday. 'Two men, aged 22 and 24, were arrested on Thursday in London and in Wiltshire, while a 48-year-old man was arrested at his home in Canning Town in London last week on suspicion of inciting racial hatred. The investigation following the match on October 6 was triggered by complaints about tweets that referred to Hitler and the gas chambers.' I guess it goes to show, you'd be stupid to use your real name or identifying details on Twitter. Perhaps the British should also work on reforming their laws on free speech (or lack thereof)."
New submitter fierman writes "In a work to be presented at the Network and Distributed System Security Symposium (ISOC NDSS'14), INRIA researchers show the privacy risks of Real-Time Bidding (PDF) and High-Frequency Trading for selling advertisement spaces. Combining Real-Time Bidding and Cookie Matching, advertisers can significantly improve their tracking and profiling capabilities. Both technologies are already prevalent on the Web. The research discusses the value of users' private data (browsing history) retrieved directly from the advertisers, leveraging an exposed information leak in RTB systems. Advertisers will pay about $0.0005 to display a targeted ad to a single user, while at the same time acquiring information about them. The research also shows evidence of price variation with users' profiles, physical location, time of day and content of visited sites."
First time accepted submitter 192_kbps writes "Mike Clements, a long-haul trucker from West Jordan, Utah, built the largest amateur telescope ever with a whopping 70 inch primary mirror he purchased at auction. The entire telescope is 35 feet tall, 900 pounds, and he hopes to tour it in parks. As a hand-turned Dobsonian the telescope lacks the photographic capacity and tracking required for professional astronomy but the views must be breathtaking." (Are there other compelling candidates out there for "largest amateur telescope ever"? The 71" scope listed by nitesky.org appears to be dormant.)
minty3 writes "The twin inverted pulse radar (TWIPR) made by a team from the University of Southampton in England uses the same technique dolphins do to capture prey. Like dolphins, the device sends out two pulses in quick succession to cancel out background noise. The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical and Physical Sciences, explained how the device resembles the way dolphins send out two pulses in quick succession to cancel out background noise."
ananyo writes "A 1.8 million-year-old human skull dramatically simplifies the textbook story of human evolution, suggesting what were thought to be three distinct species of early human (Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis and Homo erectus) was just one. 'Skull 5', along with four other skulls from the same excavation site at Dmanisi, Georgia, also shows that early humans were as physically diverse as we are today (paper abstract)."
theodp writes "The Mercury News has an exclusive sneak peek of Apple's planned headquarters in Cupertino, which Steve Jobs personally sought approval for in 2011. 'We found that rectangles or squares or long buildings or buildings with more than four stories would inhibit collaboration,' Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said, explaining the motivation behind the so-called Apple Ring. Nice, but if you wanted to hurt the feelings of the Design Gods at Apple, you could point out that, for all its $5 billion glory, what Apple calls 'the best office building ever' doesn't look all that different from an old-school $3.95 6250 BPI magnetic tape reel (still available on eBay, kids!)."
CNET's Steve Guttenberg ("The Audiophiliac") profiles prolific audio engineer and general music industry do-it-all Steve Albini; Albini (who's worked on literally thousands of albums with musicians across a wide range of genres) has interesting things to say about compression, the rise of home-recording ("The majority of recordings will be crappy, low-quality recordings, but there will always be work for engineers who can do a good job, because there will always be people who appreciate good sound."), and why he still prefers to record to analog tape. (Note: Albini is justly famous not just for his production work, but in particular for his essay "The Problem with Music.")
AlbanX writes in with this story about Paypal's use of OpenStack. "PayPal's IT team has taken control of its technology release cycle by shifting key components of its IT infrastructure onto OpenStack. For PayPal, the decision to use components of OpenStack was based around speed to market. It allows the payments provider to untether its release cycle from those of vendor partners. 'PayPal has not historically been known for its fast reactions,' PayPal senior engineer Scott Carlson conceded to attendees at the VMworld conference in San Francisco this week. 'It has taken us six to nine months sometimes to react to our competitors.'"
freaklabs writes "The radioactive water leaks are getting worse at Fukushima Dai-Ichi. In a recent New York Times article, it was mentioned that TEPCO didn't have a reliable way to monitor the water storage tanks for leaks. I decided to write a tutorial on how to wirelessly monitor water levels in storage tanks."
itwbennett writes "Forrester's James Staten argues in a blog post that the U.S. cloud computing industry stands to lose as much as $180 billion, using the reasoning put forth by a well-circulated report from The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation that pegged potential losses closer to $35 billion. But Staten's real point is that when it comes down to it the cloud industry will likely not take much of a hit at all. Because as much as they voice their displeasure, turning back isn't really an option for businesses using the cloud."
An anonymous reader writes "The Old Reader, a popular RSS service and alternative to Google Reader, last week revealed it would be closing its service to the public in two weeks. Soon after the backlash, there was hint of a stance reversal, and now it's happened: The Old Reader will remain open to the public, thanks to a bigger team and 'significantly more' resources, both provided by a new corporate entity located in the US. While details about this 'corporate entity' are indeed scarce, we do know the announcement was authored by an individual named Ben Wolf. He promises his team consists of 'big fans and users' of The Old Reader who want to help it 'grow and improve for years to come' and who will be introduced properly in the coming weeks."