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Open Source

Xfce 4.12 Released

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
motang writes: After two years of hard work (and much to the dismay of naysayers who worried the project has been abandoned), the Xfce team has announced the release of Xfce 4.12. Highlights include improvements to the window switcher dialog, intelligent hiding of the panel, new wallpaper settings, better multi-monitor support, improved power settings, additions to the file manager, and a revamped task manager. Here is a quick tour, the full changelog, and the download page. I have been running it since Xubuntu 15.04 beta 1 was released two days ago. It is much improved over 4.10, and the new additions are great."
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware? 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the very-carefully dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In light of recent revelations from Kaspersky Labs about the Equation Group and persistent hard drive malware, I was curious about how easy it might be to verify my own system's drives to see if they were infected. I have no real reason to think they would be, but I was dismayed by the total lack of tools to independently verify such a thing. For instance, Seagate's firmware download pages provide files with no external hash, something Linux distributions do for all of their packages. Neither do they seem to provide a utility to read off the current firmware from a drive and verify its integrity.

Are there any utilities to do such a thing? Why don't these companies provide verification software to users? Has anyone compiled and posted a public list of known-good firmware hashes for the major hard drive vendors and models? This seems to be a critical hole in PC security. I did contact Seagate support asking for hashes of their latest firmware; I got a response stating, "...If you download the firmware directly from our website there is no risk on the file be tampered with." (Their phrasing, not mine.) Methinks somebody hasn't been keeping up with world events lately.
Music

Genetic Data Analysis Tools Reveal How US Pop Music Evolved 23

Posted by Soulskill
from the anatomy-of-a-train-wreck dept.
KentuckyFC writes: The history of pop music is rich in anecdotes, folklore and controversy. But despite the keen interest, there is little in the form of hard evidence to back up most claims about the evolution of music. Now a group of researchers have used data analysis tools developed for genomic number crunching to study the evolution of U.S. pop music. The team studied 30-second segments of more than 17,000 songs that appeared on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 between 1960 and 2010. Their tools categorized the songs according to harmonic features such as chord changes as well as the quality of timbre such as whether guitar-based, piano-based orchestra-based and so on. They then used a standard algorithm for discovering clusters within networks of data to group the songs into 13 different types, which turned out to correspond with well known genres such as rap, rock, country and so on. Finally, they plotted the change in popularity of these musical types over time.

The results show a clear decline in the popularity of jazz and blues since 1960. During the same period, rock-related music has ebbed and flowed in popularity. By contrast, rap was rare before 1980 before becoming the dominant musical style for 30 years until declining in the late 2000s. The work answers several important question about the evolution of pop music, such as whether music industry practices have led to a decline in the cultural variety of new music, and whether British bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones triggered the 1964 American music revolution [spoiler: no in both cases].

+ - Genetic Data Analysis Tools Reveal How US Pop Music Evolved

Submitted by KentuckyFC
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "The history of pop music is rich in anecdotes, folklore and controversy. But despite the keen interest, there is little in the form of hard evidence to back up most claims about the evolution of music. Now a group of researchers have used data analysis tools developed for genomic number crunching to study the evolution of US pop music. The team studied 30-second segments of more than 17,000 songs that appeared on the US Billboard Hot 100 between 1960 and 2010. Their tools categorised the songs according to harmonic features such as chord changes as well as the quality of timbre such as whether guitar-based, piano-based orchestra-based and so on. They then used a standard algorithm for discovering clusters within networks of data to group the songs into 13 different types, which turned out to correspond with well known genres such as rap, rock, country and so on. Finally, they plotted the change in popularity of these musical types over time. The results show a clear decline in the popularity of jazz and blues since 1960. During the same period, rock-related music has ebbed and flowed in popularity. By contrast, was rare before 1980 before becoming the dominant musical style for 30 years until declining in the late 2000s. The work answers several important question about the evolution of pop music, such as whether music industry practises have led to a decline in the cultural variety of new music and whether British bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones triggered the 1964 American music revolution [spoiler: no in both cases]."
Robotics

Foxconn Factories' Future: Fewer Humans, More Robots 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the nobody-cares-if-a-robot-jumps-off-a-building dept.
jfruh writes: Foxconn, which supplies much of Apple's manufacturing muscle and has been criticized for various labor sins, is now moving to hire employees who won't complain because they're robots. The company expects 70 percent of its assembly line work to be robot-driven within three years.

Comment: Going my own way (Score 1) 135

by fyngyrz (#49156963) Attached to: One Astronomer's Quest To Reinstate Pluto As a Planet

As far as I'm concerned, if it's orbiting a star, and it itself isn't another star, and it's got, or had, enough mass such that it pulled whatever it is made of into a spheroid, it's a planet. If it's orbiting another planet and the center of the orbit is within the other body, it's a moon, spheroid or not. If the center of the orbit is in space, they're both planets. If there isn't enough mass to pull the thing into a spheroid, and it's not orbiting a planet, then it is either an asteroid (primarily rocky) or a comet (primarily gassy/icy.) If it's pulled itself into a spheroid and is floating out away from any star, it's still a planet, but it is a rogue. We can have a moon orbiting another moon and so on, but that doesn't make the first one into a planet.

If an object is manufactured and not meant to navigate to arbitrary destinations under its own power, but only resides in orbit about something or sits in free space, if it can host humans, it is a space station. If it cannot host humans, and it's in orbit, it is a satellite. If it is in free space, it is a platform. If it can travel under its own power to arbitrary destinations, arbitrarily change orbits and so on, it is a spacecraft. Station keeping effectors do not count, and being able to carry humans doesn't make a difference.

If the object is, or ever was, host to a natural fusion reaction due to the usual culprits, it's a star. Live, dead or otherwise.

I could go on for quite a while, but most likely, no one cares anyway. :) The important thing is *I* know what to think when I learn about something "out there." And Pluto? Pluto is definitely a planet.

If someone convinces me that these ideas are inconsistent, I'll do my best to fix 'em so they aren't.

Security

Uber Discloses Database Breach, Targets GitHub With Subpoena 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the another-day-another-breach dept.
New submitter SwampApe tips news that Uber has revealed a database breach from 2014. The company says the database contained names and diver's license numbers of their drivers, about 50,000 of which were accessed by an unauthorized third party. As part of their investigation into who was behind the breach, Uber has filed a lawsuit which includes a subpoena request for GitHub. "Uber's security team knows the public IP address used by the database invader, and wants to link that number against the IP addresses and usernames of anyone who looked at the GitHub-hosted gist in question – ID 9556255 – which we note today no longer exists. It's possible the gist contained a leaked login key, or internal source code that contained a key that should not have been made public."

+ - Uber hauls GitHub into court to find who hacked database->

Submitted by SwampApe
SwampApe (2814551) writes "Uber has subpoenaed GitHub to unmask netizens suspected of hacking its database of taxi drivers.

The ride-booking app maker is trying to force GitHub to hand over the IP addresses of anyone who visited a particular gist post between March and September last year.

That gist is believed to have contained a login key used by a hacker to access an internal Uber database of 50,000 drivers. Github refused to hand over the information, leading to Friday's subpoena filing."

Link to Original Source
Oracle

Oracle Sues 5 Oregon Officials For 'Improper Influence' 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the software-versus-politics dept.
SpzToid writes: Following up on an earlier Slashdot story, the Oracle Corporation has filed a rather timely suit against five of former governor John Kitzhaber's staff for their "improper influence" in the decision to shutter the Cover Oregon healthcare website, while blaming Oracle to defuse the political consequences. Oracle argues the website was ready to go before the state decided to switch to the federal exchange in April.

"The work on the exchange was complete by February 2014, but going live with the website and providing a means for all Oregonians to sign up for health insurance coverage didn't match the former-Governor's re-election strategy to 'go after' Oracle," Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger said in a statement.

Kitzhaber resigned last week amid criminal probes into an influence-peddling scandal involving allegations that his fiancée used her position in his office for personal gain.

Avoid strange women and temporary variables.

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