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+ - 102 The Tale of How the U.S. Supercomputer Police Patrolled Chinese Weather Systems->

An anonymous reader writes: When IBM sent Zaphiris Christidis on an international assignment to China to manage the supercomputing division for climate and environment applications, he would be part of an over 50,000 strong force in China managing weather forecasting and research. While some were part of IBM or other technology vendor teams, it was striking to him how many people in the country were devoted to operational weather forecasting, not to mention how complex each of the regional centers that radiated off the main Beijing sites were...
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+ - 146 XKEYSCORE: NSA'S Google for the World's Private Communications->

Advocatus Diaboli writes: "The NSA’s ability to piggyback off of private companies’ tracking of their own users is a vital instrument that allows the agency to trace the data it collects to individual users. It makes no difference if visitors switch to public Wi-Fi networks or connect to VPNs to change their IP addresses: the tracking cookie will follow them around as long as they are using the same web browser and fail to clear their cookies. Apps that run on tablets and smartphones also use analytics services that uniquely track users. Almost every time a user sees an advertisement (in an app or in a web browser), the ad network is tracking users in the same way. A secret GCHQ and CSE program called BADASS, which is similar to XKEYSCORE but with a much narrower scope, mines as much valuable information from leaky smartphone apps as possible, including unique tracking identifiers that app developers use to track their own users."

also

"Other information gained via XKEYSCORE facilitates the remote exploitation of target computers. By extracting browser fingerprint and operating system versions from Internet traffic, the system allows analysts to quickly assess the exploitability of a target. Brossard, the security researcher, said that “NSA has built an impressively complete set of automated hacking tools for their analysts to use.” Given the breadth of information collected by XKEYSCORE, accessing and exploiting a target’s online activity is a matter of a few mouse clicks. Brossard explains: “The amount of work an analyst has to perform to actually break into remote computers over the Internet seems ridiculously reduced — we are talking minutes, if not seconds. Simple. As easy as typing a few words in Google.”

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+ - 102 Meet microservices: The next big trend after cloud computing->

mattydread23 writes: There's an old proverb among engineers of all stripes: "Better, cheaper, faster — pick two." But when it comes to the mobile apps that increasingly rule our world, we demand all three, every single day. So big tech companies like Amazon, Netflix, and PayPal have completely rethought how they build their products, using bleeding-edge technologies that they developed themselves to take one big problem and make it a lot of smaller ones. And startups are starting to jump aboard too, as this trend makes it much easier to get started and stay lean. Sort of like the cloud computing was 5 years ago.
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+ - 122 TracFone Finally Agrees To Allow Phone Unlocking ->

jfruh writes: While most Slashdot readers probably enjoy the latest and greatest smartphones and heavy-use data plans, millions of Americans use low-cost, prepaid featurephones, and many of those are sold under various brand names owned by TracFone. Today, after much pressure from the FCC, TracFone admitted that its customers also have the right to an unlocked phone that they can port to a different provider, including those low-income customers who participate in the government-subsidized Lifeline program, widely (though incorrectly) known as "Obamaphone".
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+ - 102 Why Software Development Isn't A Straight March Forward->

jfruh writes: In Pali, the term for which is paiccasamuppda ('mutual arising') means that every action contains the seeds of unknown others, including ones that work toward its own destruction. We can see this in our national political life — when, for instance, a young white man who tried to start a race war by killing nine black people spurred a movement to remove Confederate flags from statehouses instead. And, according to webmaster Sasha Akhavi, we see it in software development as well, where our actions cause nowhere near the linear march towards success that we would like.
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+ - 248 Soneone is Cutting Fiber Optic Cables in San Francisco

HughPickens.com writes: USA Today reports that the FBI is investigating at least 11 physical attacks on high-capacity Internet cables in California's San Francisco Bay Area dating back to at least July 6, 2014, including one early this week. "When it affects multiple companies and cities, it does become disturbing," says Special Agent Greg Wuthrich. "We definitely need the public's assistance." The pattern of attacks raises serious questions about the glaring vulnerability of critical Internet infrastructure, says JJ Thompson. "When it's situations that are scattered all in one geography, that raises the possibility that they are testing out capabilities, response times and impact," says Thompson. "That is a security person's nightmare."

Mark Peterson, a spokesman for Internet provider Wave Broadband, says an unspecified number of Sacramento-area customers were knocked offline by the latest attack. Peterson characterized the Tuesday attack as "coordinated" and said the company was working with Level 3 and Zayo to restore service. It’s possible the vandals were dressed as telecommunications workers to avoid arousing suspicion, say FBI officials. Backup systems help cushion consumers from the worst of the attacks, meaning people may notice slower email or videos not playing, but may not have service completely disrupted. But repairs are costly and penalties are not stiff enough to deter would-be vandals. "There are flags and signs indicating to somebody who wants to do damage: This is where it is folks," says Richard Doherty. "It's a terrible social crime that affects thousands and millions of people."

+ - 114 Federal wiretaps down slightly, encryption impact decreases->

coondoggie writes: According to the 2014 Wiretap Report, released today by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts a total of a total of 3,554 wiretaps were reported as authorized, with 1,279 authorized by federal judges and 2,275 authorized by state judges. Compared to the applications approved during 2013, the number approved by federal judges decreased 13% in 2014 and the number approved by state judges increased 8%. One state wiretap application was denied in 2014, the report stated.
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+ - 102 Saber-tooth teeth grew at lightning speed->

sciencehabit writes: The fearsome saber-toothed cat, Smilodon fatalis, roamed North and South America from about 700,000 years to 11,000 years ago. Its daggerlike canine teeth, which protruded up to 18 centimeters from its upper jaw, could easily shred any bison, camel, or other prey that crossed its path. Using a new technique that combines isotopic analysis with x-ray imaging, scientists have found that the permanent canines of S. fatalis grew at a rate of 6 millimeters per month, about twice as fast as an African lion’s teeth--and almost twice as fast as human fingernails.
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+ - 186 Ask Slashdot: Is it true that software performance is not important anymore?-> 6 6

DidgetMaster writes: Naturally, everyone wants faster hardware and software; but if you had to choose between two software packages, how much emphasis do you place on speed?

I am building a new kind of general-purpose data management system that uses new data objects that I invented. It has some cool new features that other systems lack, but speed is one of its primary selling points. It was originally designed to replace file systems for managing unstructured data; but it handles structured data so well that I think it can replace relational databases and NoSQL solutions too. It also has distributed architecture to compete with Hadoop and other distributed systems. It is able to find things thousands of times faster than a file system and is more than twice as fast as MySQL at basic table operations in my testing without needing an index. (See http://youtu.be/2uUvGMUyFhY for a demo video)

As I approach potential investors for funding, I have had more than one person say "speed is no longer important". They seem to think that everything can be solved with faster hardware or distributed processing. I am "old school" and think that speed is VERY important. Not only is time important, but better algorithms require less hardware (and thus less power and cooling) too. Am I the only one who still thinks this way?

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+ - 162 Google apologizes for labeling black people 'gorillas'->

Mark Wilson writes: Google has issued an apology after the automatic tagging feature of its Photos apps labeled a black couple as 'gorillas'. This is not the first time an algorithm has been found to have caused racial upset. Earlier in the year Flickr came under fire after its system tagged images of concentration camps as sports venues and black people as apes.

The company was criticized on social networks after a New York software developer questioned the efficacy of Google's algorithm. Accused of racism, Google said that it was "appalled" by what had happened, branding it as "100% not OK".

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+ - 102 Giving buildings a cosmic CT scan->

sciencehabit writes: Subatomic particles that naturally bombard Earth could be used to make 3D images of industrial equipment akin to medical CT scans made with x-rays, a new study suggests. The technique could reveal the corrosion of pipes or the degradation within thick layers of concrete. It could also enable routine inspections of pipes and valves that are buried, wrapped in insulation, or otherwise inaccessible, even while the equipment is in use—and even if it lies deep within a heavily shielded nuclear reactor, scientists say.
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+ - 231 Microsoft To Launch Minecraft Education Portal For Teachers

Mickeycaskill writes: Microsoft wants to help educators use Minecraft to teach pupils about maths, history, creative design and other subjects and skills, claiming the game is already being used in classrooms in the US and UK.

Minecraft developer Mojang was bought by Microsoft last year for $2.5 billion and the game has been featured in a number of HoloLens demos, an indication of how it sees the former indie phenomenon as more than just a game.

“Very soon after Minecraft launched, we noticed teachers bringing the game into their classrooms,” said a blog post. “Often inspired by the passion of their students, they started using Minecraft to design history lessons, teach language classes, explore mathematics, physics, computer science, writing, and more."

+ - 316 How the next US nuclear accident will happen->

Lasrick writes: Anthropologist Hugh Gusterson analyzes safety at US nuclear facilities and finds a disaster waiting to happen due to an over-reliance on automated security technology and private contractors cutting corners to increase profits. Gusterson follows on the work of Eric Schlosser, Frank Munger, and Dan Zak in warning us of the serious problems at US nuclear facilities, both in the energy industry and in the nuclear security complex.
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+ - 300 Depression: The secret struggle startup founders won't talk about->

mattydread23 writes: In May, Cambrian Genomics CEO Austen Heinz committed suicide. The news stunned friends and family, and sparked a conversation about the growing problem of depression among startup founders. Some estimates say 30% of startup founders suffer from depression, but many are reluctant to talk about their struggle for fear of alienating investors and employees. This feature by Business Insider includes conversations with a friend of Heinz, plus many investors and other startup founders who are starting to talk about the problem and figure out how to make things better.
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+ - 202 Pew Survey Documents Gaps Between Public and Scientists

PvtVoid writes: A new Pew Research Study documents an alarming gap between public perception of scientific issues and the opinions of the scientists themselves, as measured by a poll of AAAS scientists. Even worse, the gap is partisan, with clear differences between Republicans and Democrats, and between conservatives and liberals. For example, while 98% of AAAS members agree with the statement that "Human beings and other living things have evolved over time", only 21% of conservatives agree, compared with 54% of liberals. Global warming, similarly, shows an ideological gap: 98% of AAAS scientists agreed with the statement that "the Earth is getting warmer mostly due to human activity", compared with 21% of conservatives and 54% of liberals. Encouragingly, almost everybody thinks childhood vaccines should be required (86% of AAAS members, 65% of conservatives, and 74% of liberals.)

Go here for an interactive view of the data.

+ - 202 Exploring the Relationships Between Tech Skills (Visualization) ->

Nerval's Lobster writes: Simon Hughes, Dice's Chief Data Scientist, has put together an experimental visualization that explores how tech skills relate to one another. In the visualization, every circle or node represents a particular skill; colors designate communities that coalesce around skills. Try clicking “Java”, for example, and notice how many other skills accompany it (a high-degree node, as graph theory would call it). As a popular skill, it appears to be present in many communities: Big Data, Oracle Database, System Administration, Automation/Testing, and (of course) Web and Software Development. You may or may not agree with some relationships, but keep in mind, it was all generated in an automatic way by computer code, untouched by a human. Building it started with Gephi, an open-source network analysis and visualization software package, by importing a pair-wise comma-separated list of skills and their similarity scores (as Simon describes in his article) and running a number of analyses: Force Atlas layout to draw a force-directed graph, Avg. Path Length to calculate the Betweenness Centrality that determines the size of a node, and finally Modularity to detect communities of skills (again, color-coded in the visualization). The graph was then exported as an XML graph file (GEXF) and converted to JSON format with two sets of elements: Nodes and Links. "We would love to hear your feedback and questions," Simon says.
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+ - 124 Lithium, Beryllium and Boron are the only three elements not made in stars

StartsWithABang writes: From helium up through uranium continuously, every element in the periodic table can be found, created by natural processes, somewhere in the Universe. (With many trans-uranic nuclides found as well.) Yet out of all of those, only three of them aren't created in stars: lithium, beryllium and boron. Boron in particular is necessary for life as we know it, as without it, there would be no such things as plants. Here's the cosmic story of the only three heavy elements to exist that aren't made in stars.

+ - 152 Hundreds of Dark Web mirror sites 'booby-trapping' Tor users->

An anonymous reader writes: Tor users are being warned about hundreds of fake and booby-trapped .onion websites after the founder of Dark Web search engine ahmia.fi noticed a clone of his own site online. Juha Nurmi, who operates an open source .onion search engine, found over two hundred fake replicas of Dark Web pages, including the popular Tor version of DuckDuckGo. In a Tor-Talk post [https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-talk/2015-June/038295.html] he suggests that there are several copies of the targeted websites, each with similar addresses. Unlike on the traditional World Wide Web, unindexed Tor pages are typically located through directories rather than across search engines and often have complicated URLs – thus making it easier for fake addresses to go unnoticed. Nurmi added that the fake sites are working as transparent proxies to the real pages, allowing hackers to launch attacks against their targets.
 

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