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Government

+ - CA City Fails to Collect $17.6M in Parking Fines->

Submitted by
itwbennett
itwbennett writes "Long Beach, California has $17.6 million in outstanding parking fines. To blame: Old software that requires too much manual intervention, city auditor Laura Doud said in a report released last week. The ironically named AutoProcess system, which is also used by the city of Pasadena, 'isn't integrated with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, meaning that information about who owns a particular vehicle has to be manually loaded into AutoProcess,' according to Doud's report."
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Security

US Drone Fleet Hit By Computer Virus 370

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.
New submitter Golgafrinchan passes along this quote from an article at Wired: "A computer virus has infected the cockpits of America's Predator and Reaper drones, logging pilots' every keystroke as they remotely fly missions over Afghanistan and other warzones. The virus, first detected nearly two weeks ago by the military's Host-Based Security System, has not prevented pilots at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada from flying their missions overseas. Nor have there been any confirmed incidents of classified information being lost or sent to an outside source. But the virus has resisted multiple efforts to remove it from Creech's computers, network security specialists say. And the infection underscores the ongoing security risks in what has become the U.S. military's most important weapons system.'"
Media

Public AAC Listening Test @ ~96 Kbps [July 2011]. 277

Posted by timothy
from the listening-for-artifacts dept.
The folks at the Hydrogen Audio Forums have for years been benefiting the world with their patience, technical skills, and hyper-focus on sound quality, by comparing the real-world sound of various codecs and bit-rates for audio encoding. Under the scope for the latest public listening test (slated to run until July 27) are the following AAC encoders: Nero 1.5.4; Apple QuickTime 7.6.9 true VBR; Apple QuickTime 7.6.9 constrained VBR; Fraunhofer (Winamp 5.62); Coding Technologies (Winamp 5.61); and ffmpeg's AAC (low anchor).
Science

Thousands of Blackbirds Fall From Sky Dead 577

Posted by samzenpus
from the silent-spring dept.
Dan East writes "In a fashion worthy of a King or Hitchcock novel, blackbirds began to fall from the sky dead in Arkansas yesterday. Somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 birds rained down on the small town of Beeb, Arkansas, with no visible trauma. Officials are making wild guesses as to what happened — lightning strike, high-altitude hail, or perhaps trauma from the sound of New Year's fireworks killed them."
Medicine

PARC Builds iPod-Sized HIV Detector 93

Posted by timothy
from the use-the-y-jack dept.
MikeChino writes "Right now it's difficult, if not impossible, to quickly detect HIV in patients living in impoverished countries. That may all change soon, though — researchers at a California outfit called the Palo Alto Research Center have built an iPod-sized handheld device that can provide an immune check-up in under 10 minutes — all with a prick of the finger. With millions of people around the world without access to a full-size laboratory, PARC's device could revolutionize the detection and treatment of HIV."
Databases

First MySQL 5.5 Beta Released 95

Posted by kdawson
from the taking-care-of-business dept.
joabj writes "While MySQL is the subject of much high-profile wrangling between the EU and Oracle (and the MySQL creator himself), the MySQL developers have been quietly moving the widely-used database software forward. The new beta version of MySQL, the first publicly available, features such improvements as near-asynchronous replication and more options for partitioning. A new release model has been enacted as well, bequeathing this version the title of 'MySQL Server 5.5.0-m2.' Downloads here."
Science

Entanglement Could Be a Deterministic Phenomenon 259

Posted by kdawson
from the playing-dice dept.
KentuckyFC writes "Nobel prize-winning physicist Gerard 't Hooft has joined the likes of computer scientists Stephen Wolfram and Ed Fredkin in claiming that the universe can be accurately modeled by cellular automata. The novel aspect of 't Hooft's model is that it allows quantum mechanics and, in particular, the spooky action at a distance known as entanglement to be deterministic. The idea that quantum mechanics is fundamentally deterministic is known as hidden variable theory but has been widely discounted by physicists because numerous experiments have shown its predictions to be wrong. But 't Hooft says his cellular automaton model is a new class of hidden variable theory that falls outside the remit of previous tests. However, he readily admits that the new model has serious shortcomings — it lacks some of the basic symmetries that our universe enjoys, such as rotational symmetry. However, 't Hooft adds that he is working on modifications that will make the model more realistic (abstract)."
Spam

Spam Replacing Postal Junk Mail? 251

Posted by kdawson
from the connecting-the-dots dept.
TheOtherChimeraTwin writes "I've been getting spam from mainstream companies that I do business with, which is odd because I didn't give those companies my email address. It is doubly strange because the address they are using is a special-purpose one that I wouldn't give out to any business. Apparently knotice.com ('Direct Digital Marketing Solutions') and postalconnect.net aka emsnetwork.net (an Equifax Marketing Service Product with the ironic name 'Permission!') are somehow collecting email addresses and connecting them with postal addresses, allowing companies to send email instead of postal mail. Has anyone else encountered this slimy practice or know how they are harvesting email addresses?"
The Courts

17,000 Downloads Does Not Equal 17,000 Lost Sales 398

Posted by timothy
from the channeling-captain-obvious dept.
Andrew_Rens writes "Ars Technica has a story on a ruling by a US District Judge who rejects claims by the RIAA that the number of infringing downloads amounts to proof of the same number of lost sales. The judge ruled that 'although it is true that someone who copies a digital version of a sound recording has little incentive to purchase the recording through legitimate means, it does not necessarily follow that the downloader would have made a legitimate purchase if the recording had not been available for free.' The ruling concerns the use of the criminal courts to recover alleged losses for downloading through a process known as restitution. The judgement does not directly change how damages are calculated in civil cases."
Power

Switching To Solar Power — Six Months Later 591

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the it-burns-my-eyes dept.
ThinSkin writes "Slashdot readers may remember an article regarding ExtremeTech's Loyd Case's experiences with solar power for the home after one month of usage. During that time six months ago, it sure seemed like a great deal, but the tables have turned significantly once winter approached. While it's no surprise solar power generation is expected to dwindle during the winter, Loyd compares solar power data of the last six months to determine if solar power is still worth the time and money."
Programming

More Than Coding Errors Behind Bad Software 726

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the bad-decisions-go-all-the-way-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes "SANS' just-released list of the Top 15 most dangerous programming errors obscures the real problem with software development today, argues InfoWeek's Alex Wolfe. In More Than Coding Mistakes At Fault In Bad Software, he lays the blame on PC developers (read: Microsoft) who kicked the time-honored waterfall model to the curb and replaced it not with object-oriented or agile development but with a 'modus operandi of cramming in as many features as possible, and then fixing problems in beta.' He argues that youthful programmers don't know about error-catching and lack a sense of history, suggesting they read Fred Brooks' 'The Mythical Man-Month,' and Gerald Weinberg's 'The Psychology of Computer Programming.'"
Businesses

How Long Should Companies Make E-Bills Available? 299

Posted by samzenpus
from the forever-billed dept.
theodp writes "If you say goodbye to paper and hello to green, you may learn first-hand that no good deed goes unpunished. Try to pay your final Verizon Wireless bill online after switching carriers, for example, and don't be surprised if you get a sorry-Dave-I'm-afraid-I-can't-do-that reply. Other vendors may curtail e-Bill services 30 days after you end service. And a promise of access to up to seven years of paperless statements is somewhat empty if you'll be cutoff as soon as you no longer have an account. With more-and-more companies enticing consumers to go paperless, how long a period of time should the records be made available online? Should it extend beyond the life of an account?"
The Internet

Unemployment Claims Crash State Web Sites 233

Posted by samzenpus
from the sell-your-computer dept.
1sockchuck writes "A sign of the times: a surge in filings for unemployment benefits has crashed online application systems in four states this week. Web sites in Ohio, New York, Kentucky and North Carolina have been knocked offline by unusually high volumes of jobless claims. Phone applications systems appearing to be faring even worse in many states. The thin silver lining: states are hiring workers for phone banks and buying new servers to prop up their web sites."

Apple's Life After Steve Jobs 405

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the cut-the-turtleneck-budget-in-half dept.
animusCollards writes "Slate ponders a post-Steve Jobs Apple, including possible successors, and the future is... boring. '..it's certainly true that Jobs' style is central to the company's brand and the fierce connection it forges with its customers. His product announcements prompt hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free press coverage and whip up greater and more loyal fans, generating ever-greater interest in the company. ... At some point, all that will end. Jobs will eventually leave the company. There are no obvious plans for succession; in addition to Schiller, observers finger Tim Cook, Apple's COO, and Scott Forstall, who helped develop Mac OS X and the iPhone's software, as contenders for the job. But Tuesday's keynote illustrated how difficult it will be for any of those guys to replace Jobs.'"

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