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Programming

C Code On GitHub Has the Most "Ugly Hacks" 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the eye-of-the-beholder dept.
itwbennett writes: An analysis of GitHub data shows that C developers are creating the most ugly hacks — or are at least the most willing to admit to it. To answer the question of which programming language produces the most ugly hacks, ITworld's Phil Johnson first used the search feature on GitHub, looking for code files that contained the string 'ugly hack'. In that case, C comes up first by a wide margin, with over 181,000 code files containing that string. The rest of the top ten languages were PHP (79k files), JavaScript (38k), C++ (22k), Python (19k), Text (11k), Makefile (11k), HTML, (10k), Java (7k), and Perl (4k). Even when controlling for the number of repositories, C wins the ugly-hack-athon by a landslide, Johnson found.
Security

Self-Destructing Virus Kills Off PCs 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the worst-in-class dept.
mpicpp sends word about particularly bad virus making the rounds. "A computer virus that tries to avoid detection by making the machine it infects unusable has been found. If Rombertik's evasion techniques are triggered, it deletes key files on a computer, making it constantly restart. Analysts said Rombertik was 'unique' among malware samples for resisting capture so aggressively. On Windows machines where it goes unnoticed, the malware steals login data and other confidential information. Rombertik typically infected a vulnerable machine after a booby-trapped attachment on a phishing message had been opened, security researchers Ben Baker and Alex Chiu, from Cisco, said in a blogpost. Some of the messages Rombertik travels with pose as business inquiry letters from Microsoft. The malware 'indiscriminately' stole data entered by victims on any website, the researchers said. And it got even nastier when it spotted someone was trying to understand how it worked. 'Rombertik is unique in that it actively attempts to destroy the computer if it detects certain attributes associated with malware analysis,' the researchers said."
Earth

Global Carbon Dioxide Levels Reach New Monthly Record 153

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.
mrflash818 writes: For the first time since we began tracking carbon dioxide in the global atmosphere, the monthly global average concentration of carbon dioxide gas surpassed 400 parts per million in March 2015, according to NOAA's latest results. “It was only a matter of time that we would average 400 parts per million globally,” said Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network. “We first reported 400 ppm when all of our Arctic sites reached that value in the spring of 2012. In 2013 the record at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory first crossed the 400 ppm threshold. Reaching 400 parts per million as a global average is a significant milestone."
Security

Researcher: Drug Infusion Pump Is the "Least Secure IP Device" He's Ever Seen 57

Posted by samzenpus
from the bottom-of-the-barrel dept.
chicksdaddy writes: This is a bad month for the medical equipment maker Hospira. First, security researcher Billy Rios finds a raft of serious and remotely exploitable holes in the company's MedNet software, prompting a vulnerability alert from ICS CERT. Now, one month later, ICS CERT is again warning of a "10 out of 10" critical vulnerability, this time in Hospira's LifeCare PCA drug infusion pump. The problem? According to this report by Security Ledger the main problem was an almost total lack of security controls on the device. According to independent researcher Jeremy Williams, the PCA pump listens on Telnet port 23. Connecting to the device via Telnet, he was brought immediately to a root shell account that gave him total, administrator level access to the pump without authentication. "The only thing I needed to get in was an interest in the pump," he said. Richards found other examples of loose security on the PCA 3: a FTP server that could be accessed without authentication and an embedded web server that runs Common Gateway Interface (CGI). That could allow an attacker to tamper with the pump's operation using fairly simple scripts. Also: The PCA pump stores wireless keys used to connect to the local (medical device) wireless network in plain text on the device. That means anyone with physical access to the Pump (which has an ethernet port) could gain access to the local medical device network and other devices on it. The problems prompted Richards to call the PCA 3 pump "the least secure IP enabled device" he has ever worked with.
Security

FBI Releases Its Files On DEF CON: Not Amused By Spot-the-Fed 65

Posted by samzenpus
from the some-games-are-better-than-others dept.
v3rgEz writes: Not surprisingly, the FBI has compiled reports on notorious hacker gathering DEF CON, now released thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request. The files detail the lack of amusement at the Spot-the-Fed game, as well as which conference tracks attract the most interest. "In a bit of FOIrony, the file contains a copy of the Spot the Fed contest rules, including the facetious aside to feds offering t-shirts in exchange for agency coffee mugs."
Security

MacKeeper May Have To Pay Millions In Class-Action Suit 22

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-the-piper dept.
jfruh writes: If you use a Mac, you probably recognize MacKeeper from the omnipresent popup ads designed to look vaguely like system warnings urging you to download the product and use it to keep your computer safe. Now the Ukranian company behind the software and the ads may have to pay millions in a class action suit that accuses them of exaggerating security problems in order to convince customers to download the software.
AMD

AMD Outlines Plans For Zen-Based Processors, First Due In 2016 86

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-it-out dept.
crookedvulture writes: AMD laid out its plans for processors based on its all-new Zen microarchitecture today, promising 40% higher performance-per-clock from from the x86 CPU core. Zen will use simultaneous multithreading to execute two threads per core, and it will be built using "3D" FinFETs. The first chips are due to hit high-end desktops and servers next year. In 2017, Zen will combine with integrated graphics in smaller APUs designed for desktops and notebooks. AMD also plans to produce a high-performance server APU with a "transformational memory architecture" likely similar to the on-package DRAM being developed for the company's discrete graphics processors. This chip could give AMD a credible challenger in the HPC and supercomputing markets—and it could also make its way into laptops and desktops.
Ubuntu

Ubuntu May Beat Windows 10 To Phone-PC Convergence After All 96

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-in-one dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news that Mark Shuttleworth plans to have a Ubuntu smartphone that can be used as a PC out sometime this year. "Despite the recent announcement that Windows 10 phones will be able to be used as PCs when connected to an external monitor, Ubuntu—the first operating system to toy with the idea—hasn't conceded the smartphone-PC convergence race to Microsoft just yet. 'While I enjoy the race, I also like to win,' Ubuntu Foundation founder Mark Shuttleworth said during a Ubuntu Online Summit keynote, before announcing that Canonical will partner with a hardware manufacturer to release a Ubuntu Phone with smartphone-PC convergence features this year.

+ - Ubuntu may beat Windows 10 to phone-PC convergence after all

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Despite the recent announcement that Windows 10 phones will be able to be used as PCs when connected to an external monitor, Ubuntu—the first operating system to toy with the idea—hasn’t conceded the smartphone-PC convergence race to Microsoft just yet. “While I enjoy the race, I also like to win,” Ubuntu Foundation founder Mark Shuttleworth said during a Ubuntu Online Summit keynote, before announcing that Canonical will partner with a hardware manufacturer to release a Ubuntu Phone with smartphone-PC convergence features this year.
Space

17-Year-Old Radio Astronomy Mystery Traced Back To Kitchen Microwave 194

Posted by samzenpus
from the give-it-another-30-secs dept.
New submitter Bo'Bob'O writes: The BBC reports that the scientists at the Parkes and Bleien Radio Observatories in New South Whales, Australia, have tracked down earth-based signals that had been eluding observation for 17 years. These signals, which came to be called Perytons "occurred only during office hours and predominantly on weekdays." The source, as it turned out, was located right inside the antenna's tower where impatient scientists had been opening the kitchen microwave door before its cycle had finished. As the linked paper concludes, this, and a worn magnetron caused a condition that allowed the microwaves to emit a burst of frequencies not expected by the scientists, only compounding the original mystery.
Open Source

Why Was Linux the Kernel That Succeeded? 312

Posted by samzenpus
from the belle-of-the-ball dept.
jones_supa writes: One of the most puzzling questions about the history of free and open source software is this: Why did Linux succeed so spectacularly, whereas similar attempts to build a free or open source, Unix-like operating system kernel met with considerably less success? Christopher Tozzi has rounded up some theories, focusing specifically on kernels, not complete operating systems. These theories take a detailed look at the decentralized development structure, pragmatic approach to things, and the rich developer community, all of which worked in favor of Linux.
Mars

NASA Will Award You $5,000 For Your Finest Mars City Idea 136

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-to-mars dept.
coondoggie writes: NASA this week said it would look to the public for cool ideas on how to build a sustainable environment on Mars with the best plan earning as much as $5,000. With the Journey to Mars Challenge, NASA wants applicants to describe one or more Mars surface systems or capabilities and operations that are needed to set up and establish a technically achievable, economically sustainable human living space on the red planet. Think air, water, food, communications systems and the like.
Programming

The Programming Talent Myth 412

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-are-not-a-beautiful-and-unique-snowflake dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Jake Edge writes at LWN.net that there is a myth that programming skill is somehow distributed on a U-shaped curve and that people either "suck at programming" or that they "rock at programming", without leaving any room for those in between. Everyone is either an amazing programmer or "a worthless use of a seat" which doesn't make much sense. If you could measure programming ability somehow, its curve would look like the normal distribution. According to Edge this belief that programming ability fits into a bi-modal distribution is both "dangerous and a myth". "This myth sets up a world where you can only program if you are a rock star or a ninja. It is actively harmful in that is keeping people from learning programming, driving people out of programming, and it is preventing most of the growth and the improvement we'd like to see." If the only options are to be amazing or terrible, it leads people to believe they must be passionate about their career, that they must think about programming every waking moment of their life. If they take their eye off the ball even for a minute, they will slide right from amazing to terrible again leading people to be working crazy hours at work, to be constantly studying programming topics on their own time, and so on.

The truth is that programming isn't a passion or a talent, says Edge, it is just a bunch of skills that can be learned. Programming isn't even one thing, though people talk about it as if it were; it requires all sorts of skills and coding is just a small part of that. Things like design, communication, writing, and debugging are needed. If we embrace this idea that "it's cool to be okay at these skills"—that being average is fine—it will make programming less intimidating for newcomers. If the bar for success is set "at okay, rather than exceptional", the bar seems a lot easier to clear for those new to the community. According to Edge the tech industry is rife with sexism, racism, homophobia, and discrimination and although it is a multi-faceted problem, the talent myth is part of the problem. "In our industry, we recast the talent myth as "the myth of the brilliant asshole", says Jacob Kaplan-Moss. "This is the "10x programmer" who is so good at his job that people have to work with him even though his behavior is toxic. In reality, given the normal distribution, it's likely that these people aren't actually exceptional, but even if you grant that they are, how many developers does a 10x programmer have to drive away before it is a wash?"
Education

Led By Zuckerberg, Billionaires Give $100M To Fund Private Elementary Schools 223

Posted by samzenpus
from the price-of-an-education dept.
theodp writes: AltSchool, a 2-year-old software-fueled private elementary school initiative started by an ex-Googler, announced Monday a $100 million Series B round led by established VC firms and high-profile tech investors including Mark Zuckerberg, Laurene Powell Jobs, John Doerr, and Pierre Omidyar. AltSchool uses proprietary software that provides students with a personalized playlist lesson that teachers can keep close tabs on. Currently, a few hundred students in four Bay Area classrooms use AltSchool tech. Three more California classrooms, plus one in Brooklyn, are expected to come online this fall, plus one in Brooklyn. "We believe that every child should have access to an exceptional, personalized education that enables them to be happy and successful in an ever-changing world," reads AltSchool's mission statement. For $28,750-a-year, your kid can be one of them right now. Eventually, the plan is for the billionaire-bankrolled education magic to trickle down. AltSchool's pitch to investors, according to NPR, is that one day, charter schools or even regular public schools could outsource many basic functions to its software platform.
Science

New Findings On Whale Tongues May Lead To Insight On Human Nerve Damage 47

Posted by samzenpus
from the bend-me-shape-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this story about the discovery of stretchy nerves in whales. Researchers from the University of British Columbia have discovered that the largest animals alive – whales – have nerves in their tongues that can double in length and then recoil like a bungee cord. The researchers were studying specimens at a commercial whaling station in Iceland when they stumbled upon the discovery reported Monday in Current Biology. Researchers say it could have important implications for study into human nerve damage. "I had never seen a nerve like that," said Wayne Vogl, of UBC's Cellular and Physiological Sciences department.

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