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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


+ - OpenStreetMap - Online army helps map Guinea's Ebola outbreak->

Submitted by Vik1ng
Vik1ng (3500777) writes "

"It was amazing, incredible. I have no words to describe it. In less than 20 hours they mapped three cities."
— Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)

Coordinated by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team volunteers from all over the world brought Guéckédou's digital maps to life. Supporting the doctors who arrived in the West African nation of Guinea to combat the Ebola outbreak."

Link to Original Source

United Kingdom

RAF Fighter Flies On Printed Parts 100

Posted by samzenpus
from the make-me-another dept.
Rambo Tribble writes "In what is being touted as a milestone, Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 fighter jets have flown with 3-D printed parts. The announcement came from defense company BAE Systems, and it depicts the program as a model for cost-saving. From the article: 'The parts include protective covers for cockpit radios and guards for power take-off shafts. It is hoped the technology could cut the RAF's maintenance and service bill by over £1.2m over the next four years.'"

Texas Poised To Pass Unprecedented Email Privacy Bill 262

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-mess-with-texas-emails dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A bill has reached the desk of Texas Governor Rick Perry that would give stronger privacy protections to email accounts than exist in any other state. If Perry signs it (or simply declines to veto it before June 16th), the legislation would force law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant before reading somebody's email, even if the email has been sitting on the server for a long time. 'As we've noted many times before, there are no such provisions in federal law once the e-mail has been opened or if it has been sitting in an inbox, unopened, for 180 days. In March 2013, the Department of Justice acknowledged in a Congressional hearing that this distinction no longer makes sense and the DOJ would support revisions to ECPA.' This bill passed the state legislature unanimously. The article points out that the legislation won't protect from federal investigations, but it will set a precedent that the U.S. Congress will surely notice. An attorney with the EFF said, 'It's significant as proof that privacy reform is not only needed, but also politically-feasible with broad bipartisan support. And hopefully that will impact federal ECPA reform efforts by getting people on both of sides of the political aisle to work together to make meaningful electronic privacy reform a reality. The more states that pass similar legislation, the more pressure it will put on Congress to keep up with the changing legal landscape.'"

Phil Shapiro: Slashdot Reader, FOSS Activist, and Library Computer Guy (Video) 30

Posted by Roblimo
from the not-all-important-people-are-famous dept.
Phil Shapiro isn't famous, but he's a pretty good writer whose work appears regularly at He makes his living as the tech support person (he calls it "public nerd") at the Takoma Park Maryland Library. He has also -- see the link to his bio page above -- lived in New Delhi, India; Copenhagen, Denmark; Paris, France; and Scarsdale, New York. He got started with Linux as a "social justice" thing; because Linux and FOSS helped make it possible for people of modest means (we used to just call them "poor") to learn about computers and get on the Internet. He's still a big "computer for the masses" advocate and computer rehab volunteer. What's especially interesting about this interview (which is slightly out of sound/visual synch; you may prefer reading the transcript) is the amount of credit Phil gives Slashdot for spurring him on and getting him excited about FOSS. He also sees Slashdot as instrumental in helping start the Maker subculture. Do you agree? If so, should influencing the future of technology be Slashdot's main mission? Also: If so, how do you suggest we do it? And more specifically, do you know any other non-famous Slashdot readers (or people in general) we should talk to because they are doing interesting things?

Comment: Re:Um.... (Score 2) 593

by ax_johnson (#37904652) Attached to: Federal Contractors Are $600 Screwdrivers

I used to work at the Air Force Base where they used the $700 wrench (or whatever cost it was), and I heard the context. It turns out that "$700 wrench" was a custom hand tool that saved a day of disassembly and another day or reassembly work on an F-111. (Many planes in the fleet was disassembled completely and reassembled 6 or 7 times in their lifetimes.) There only a handfull of those tools made.

We also heard about the $7,000 coffee maker scandal. It turns out that was the drinking water heater in the C-5 Galaxy. The plane was used primarily for long-haul heavy-lift missions, but also carried passengers along on many flights. Think flights of 10+ hours - the pilots and passengers are going to want something hot to drink. A standard coffee maker takes electricity (but only costs $20.00). The electricity has to be generated by the APU, which takes jet fuel. The designers calculated the extra cost for jet fuel to generate that electricity over the life of the aircraft was several times more than the $7,000 hot water heater, which used waste heat from the engines for heating water.

Comment: As usual, the details can be enlightening... (Score 1) 593

by ax_johnson (#37904490) Attached to: Federal Contractors Are $600 Screwdrivers

I worked for the DoD for 10 years, as well. It was my first job out of engineering school. I had a Civil Engineering degree, and I was hired as an environmental engineer at one of the Air Force's large Superfund sites. This was in 1990, when Regan was out and Dubya was in. Of course with the politics at that time, big government was bad, bad, bad, so there was a hiring freeze on. That posed a small problem for the department that wanted to hire me. See, they were under this hiring freeze, but they needed someone to do the work, or face fines of $10,000+ per day from the EPA and state for not cleaning up the mess they made of the water supply. So what can they do: hire contractors!

I worked for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville as a "graduate intern". (To this day, I've never been to Knoxville, TN, by the way. The job was in California.) My first day on the job, I was tasked to walk paperwork around the base to get about a dozen signatures. It was the paperwork that secured the funding for my position. Our salary was about $27,000 per year at the time. The paperwork in my hand said they were paying about $65,000 per year for me. It was a similar situation to the OP - the government was providing for all computers, offices, and other overhead. Ooooo - bad contractor taking the US taxpayer to the cleaners, right? Not necessarily...

See, to do any procurement - i.e. let a contract - is a major hassle, involving lots of regulations and procedures. It would take in the neighborhood of 2 years to go through the process from start to finish, and take lots of government employee man-hours (they really did have other real hazardous waste cleanup work they would prefer to be doing). So it is common practice in these situations to look around in the government and see who _already_ has a contract, and piggy-back on that. Well, as it tuns out, the Department of Energy had a big contract with Martin-Marietta to run Oak Ridge National Labs, and Martin-Marietta has the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) on subcontract. So, this Air Force base in California had a Memorandum of Understanding with DoE to use their contract to get warm bodies through UTK.

So who's getting all of that extra money I'm not seeing? Well, each layer in the contracting process takes it's own service fee for managing this arrangement. Marint-Marietta adds their percentage, the DoE adds their percentage, DoD adds their percentage, HQ Air Force adds their percentage, our command (AFMC) takes their percentage, and my base adds their percentage. After all that, we're up to $60,000+ per year for a graduate intern, so the base can avoid $10,000 per day in fines and do the cleanup work they should be doing in the first place... because some bonehead politician has to cater to a constituency that whines about big government, implements a hiring freeze, and still demands that that same government fly big, expensive (but very technologically cool) machines around to blow up people.

Now, the OP was likely in a somewhat different position, but given my experience, it's not surprising. It's been going on for a long time, and there are reasons for it. Not good reasons, but insting that the problem is simply "big government" and "greedy contractors" without looking at our own expectations of that government is stupid.

Incidentally, a year later I was hired into the position as a Federal employee, and took a $500/year pay cut. I wrote the position description for the job I was applying for, and spent about 4 month shepherding that paperwork through the process, so the department could get someone who they know could do the job - me.


+ - Mozilla Posts First Firefox 7 Azure Build->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla is promising a huge graphics performance improvement with its new Azure 2D graphics API. A first, non-optimized version of the API shows substantially more speed than the previous Cairo API."
Link to Original Source

+ - Apps that iOS 5 killed->

Submitted by joshgnosis
joshgnosis (1852688) writes "It's inevitable with any major update to iOS that Apple would pick and choose the features of some of the most popular apps to include in the update but it looks like at least four of the most popular apps like Instapaper, Atomic and Camera+ are now going to be overshadowed by Apple's own apps, with many more like Hipstamatic, Reeder and Instagram possible future targets"
Link to Original Source

+ - Radiation Understated After Quake->

Submitted by
mdsolar writes "Japan said Monday that radioactive emissions from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the early days of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster might have been more than twice as large as a previous estimate, suggesting the accident was more grave than the government had publicly acknowledged."
Link to Original Source

+ - A Company Relying On Cell Phone Tracking->

Submitted by SammyStreet
SammyStreet (2237936) writes "Hollywood Street Teams relies on cell phone tracking on their iPhone. Lately, the tracking of users locations on the iPhone has been a great deal of controversy between privacy advocates and those who wish to engage the technology further. Many people, including members of congress, demanded answers. For some however, the tracking that the iPhone enables has been the catalyst to a new form of business. The location tracking ability of the iPhone is one Hollywood Street Team’s most essential and greatest selling tools. How is this done you ask? Well, not by selling locations as it sounds, but rather proof that person was AT that particular location. As the client, you can confirm your campaign is in action because pictures document the company’s work, then send back the information to the client in multiple fashions such as facebook, twitter, and of course a sleek looking .pdf file. Included in that information is a time stamp of the photo and the GPS Tagging as well, just in case you can’t decipher the location from the picture."
Link to Original Source

+ - Using Hackers and/or Technology as an Excuse-> 1

Submitted by Bushwuly
Bushwuly (585191) writes "Congressman Anthony Weiner admitted today to lying about posting lewd pictures to women on his Twitter feed. Originally, Weiner insisted that hackers had accessed his account in an attempt to embarrass him. Even commentators on Slashdot pushed the idea that the Congressman's account was hacked. Considering that Sony has made claims that Anonymous was behind the breech of the Playstation Network, it seems like blaming "hackers" is the new "my dog ate my homework". What other examples can you recall of people in the public eye trying to use hackers and/or technology as an excuse for poor behavior?"
Link to Original Source

+ - Siemens SCADA Flaws To Be Disclosed at Black Hat->

Submitted by
itwbennett writes "In May, NSS Labs Researcher Dillon Beresford pulled out of a Dallas hacking conference at the last minute when Siemens was unable to fix problems he'd found in the firmware of its S7 programmable logic controller. Now NSS Labs CEO Rick Moy says Beresford is rescheduled to deliver his talk at Black Hat, which runs Aug. 2-3. Beresford has discovered six vulnerabilities in the S7 that 'allow an attacker to have complete control of the device,' Moy said. Devices like the S7 do things such as control how fast a turbine spins or open gates on dams."
Link to Original Source

+ - Malware Gangs Run Ads To Hire New Coders-> 1

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Think crime doesn't pay? Think again: An increasingly common sight on underground cybercrime forums are ads paid for by malware writers who are looking to hire talented new programmers. The most common ads are for "crypters" designed to disguise known malware, and "Web injects," plug-ins made to run alongside crime kits like ZeuS and SpyEye. Salaries range from $2,000 to $5,000 monthly, health benefits not included."
Link to Original Source

Hard-Coded Bias In Google Search Results? 257

Posted by timothy
from the where-the-pigeons-roost dept.
bonch writes "Technology consultant Benjamin Edelman has developed a methodology for determining the existence of a hard-coded bias in Google's search engine which places Google's services at the top of the results page. Searching for a stock ticker places Google Finance at the top along with a price chart, but adding a comma to the end of the query removes the Google link completely. Other variations, such as 'a sore throat' instead of 'sore throat,' removes Google Health from its top position. Queries in other categories provide links to not only Google services but also their preferred partners. Though Google claims it does not bias its results, Edelman cites a 2007 admission from Google's Marissa Mayers that they placed Google Finance at the top of the results page, calling it 'only fair' because they made the search engine. Edelman notes that Google cites its use of unbiased algorithms to dismiss antitrust scrutiny, and he recalls the DOJ's intervention in airlines providing favorable results for their own flights in customer reservation systems they owned."

All great ideas are controversial, or have been at one time.