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+ - Oracle Deflects Blame for Troubled Oregon Health Care Site->

Submitted by itwbennett
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Oracle is gearing up for a fight with officials in Oregon over its role developing an expensive health insurance exchange website that still isn't fully operational. In a letter obtained by the Oregonian newspaper this week, Oracle co-president Safra Catz said that Oregon officials have provided the public with a 'false narrative' concerning who is to blame for Cover Oregon's woes. In the letter, Catz pointed out that Oregon's decision to act as their own systems integrator on the project, using Oracle consultants on a time-and-materials basis, was 'criticized frequently by many'. And as far as Oracle is concerned, 'Cover Oregon lacked the skills, knowledge or ability to be successful as the systems integrator on an undertaking of this scope and complexity,' she added."
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+ - MIT Designs Tsunami Proof Floating Nuclear Reactor->

Submitted by Amtrak
Amtrak (2430376) writes "MIT has created designs for a nuclear plant that would avoid the downfall of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The new design calls for the nuclear plant to be placed on a floating platform modeled after the platforms used for offshore oil drilling.

A floating platform several miles offshore, moored in about 100 meters of water, would be unaffected by the motions of a tsunami; earthquakes would have no direct effect at all. Meanwhile, the biggest issue that faces most nuclear plants under emergency conditions — overheating and potential meltdown, as happened at Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island — would be virtually impossible at sea."

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+ - World's First Algae Canopy Produces the Oxygen Equivalent of 4 Woodland Hectares->

Submitted by Taffykay
Taffykay (2047384) writes "The world's first urban algae canopy controls the flow of energy, water and CO2 based on weather patterns, visitor's movements, and other environmental variables. Once completed in time for the 2015 Milan Expo, this groundbreaking bio-digital project from ecoLogic Studio will produce the oxygen equivalent of four hectares of woodland, along with nearly 330 pounds of biomass per day."
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+ - IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay A Relative's Debt

Submitted by Hugh Pickens DOT Com
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Just in time for the April 15 IRS filing deadline comes news from the Washington Post that hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who are expecting refunds are instead getting letters informing them that because of a debt they never knew about — often a debt incurred by their parents — the government has confiscated their check — sometimes on debts 20 or 30 years old. For example, when Mary Grice was 4, back in 1960, her father died, leaving her mother with five children to raise. Until the kids turned 18, Sadie Grice got survivor benefits from Social Security to help feed and clothe them. Now, Social Security claims it overpaid someone in the Grice family — it’s not sure who — in 1977. After 37 years of silence, four years after Sadie Grice died, the government is coming after her daughter. “It was a shock,” says Grice, 58. “What incenses me is the way they went about this. They gave me no notice, they can’t prove that I received any overpayment, and they use intimidation tactics, threatening to report this to the credit bureaus.”

The Treasury Department has intercepted $1.9 billion in tax refunds already this year — $75 million of that on debts delinquent for more than 10 years, says Jeffrey Schramek, assistant commissioner of the department’s debt management service. The aggressive effort to collect old debts started three years ago — the result of a single sentence tucked into the farm bill lifting the 10-year statute of limitations on old debts to Uncle Sam. The Federal Trade Commission, on its Web site, advises Americans that “family members typically are not obligated to pay the debts of a deceased relative from their own assets.” But Social Security officials say that if children indirectly received assistance from public dollars paid to a parent, the children’s money can be taken, no matter how long ago any overpayment occurred. Many of the taxpayers whose refunds have been taken say they’ve been unable to contest the confiscations because of the cost, because Social Security cannot provide records detailing the original overpayment, and because the citizens, following advice from the IRS to keep financial documents for just three years, had long since trashed their own records. More than 1,200 appeals have been filed on the old cases but only about 10 percent of taxpayers have won those appeals. "The government took the money first and then they sent us the letter," says Brenda Samonds.." We could never get one sentence from them explaining why the money was taken.”"

+ - Do backups on Linux no longer matter?-> 5

Submitted by cogcritter
cogcritter (3614357) writes "In June of 2009, the dump/restore utilities version 0.4b42 for Linux's ext3 filesystem were released. This was the last version where incremental dumps could actually be used. A bug introduced in 0.4b43, one year later, causes restore to fail when processing an incremental backup unless, basically, no directory deletions occurred since the level 0 part of the backup set was taken.

The bug is certainly present in Debian Wheezy, and comments in Debian's defect tracking system suggest that the bug has permeated out into other distros as well.

How can Linux's backup/restore tools for its popular ext2/ext3 filesystem be broken for 3+ years, and nobody seems to care? Does nobody take backups? Or do they not use incremental backups? How many people are going to find themselves scrambling when they next NEED to restore a filesystem, and find themselves in possession of long-broken tools?

Just in case this article is where some hapless sysadmin ends up, the workaround is to go to dump.sf.net, go to the files section, pull down the 0.4b42 version and build it for yourself. For me, I think going forward I'm going to switch to filesystem mirroring using rsync."

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+ - Prototype Volvo Flywheel Tech Uses Car's Wasted Brake Energy

Submitted by cartechboy
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Sometimes we get carried away with sexy moonshot car tech--whereas most everyday gains are about reducing inefficiencies, piece by piece. Volvo's flywheel energy-recovery prototype is a great example of the latter--not to mention similar to one used in Formula 1 racing. The system recaptures energy that would be wasted in braking, like a hybrid does, to reduce fuel consumption by up to 25 percent. When you hit the brakes, kinetic energy that's usually wasted as heat is transferred to a "Kinetic Energy Recovery System" mounted to the undriven axle. It spools up a carbon flywheel that turns at 60,000 rpm to store the energy. When the driver hits the gas, some of the stored energy is transferred back to power the wheels through a specially designed transmission, either boosting total power to the wheels or substituting for engine torque to cut fuel consumption."

+ - Are the backdoors to flash memory reserve pools? 1

Submitted by hormiga
hormiga (600498) writes "Because flash memory has a relatively limited number of program/erase cycles before failure, wear leveling mechanisms are often employed. These mechanisms sometimes use a pool of reserve blocks, managed by the controller, invisible to the user. There seem to be two consequences of this: (1) erasure is problematic, because the supposedly erased data might be hidden in the reserve pool, and (2) it might be possible to develop a "flash unerase" to recover some portions of accidentally deleted files. The implications for forensics, security, and simple convenience appear obvious.

This line of thinking was prompted by the unintended erasure of a Verbatim USB memory stick, occasioned by a laptop hardware accident. The drive was simply zeroed by the accident, but I suspect from the quickness of the incident that there was not time for the laptop to write zeroes to the memory stick: there may have been activation of a special command channel to the controller. I would like to recover the contents of that device.

I would like to develop a library and utility for the recovery of hidden data from the reserve pool, and for the secure erasure of files and interstitial gaps in the file systems of flash drives, especially for devices such as USB memory sticks. However, I'm not having much success discovering the interfaces available to software. Are there special backdoors or handshakes to access the reserve pools or other features in the flash controllers? Where is this information available?

Naturally, the results and code will be published as FLOSS."

+ - Homemade Sci-fi Movie Space Trucker Bruce = Lots of Cardboard Goodness 2

Submitted by antoine64
antoine64 (915204) writes ""It took Juneau, Alaska filmmaker Anton Doiron 6 years and around $10,000 to complete his sci-fi movie Space Trucker Bruce. All the sets for the film were built in rooms of his house using cardboard including a 35ft long hallway in his back yard. The movie took 6 years to make because all the filmmaking tasks were done by Anton. He built the sets, operated the camera, acted, edited, and completed the 105 computer animated space shots and 450 composite shots. Space Trucker Bruce is available on Vimeo and on the Space Trucker Bruce website.""

+ - Re-Learning How To Interview for a Development Position

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier in my career, when I switched jobs every year or so, I was pretty good at interviewing. I got offers about 75% of the time if I got to a in person. But times have changed... my last 2 jobs have been, longer term gigs.. 5 and 3 years respectively, and I am way out of practice. My resume often gets me the phone interview and I am actually really good at the phone screen.. I am 12 for 12 in the last 6 months phone screen to in person interview. It is the in person interview where I am really having issues. I think I come off wrong or something.. I usually get most of the technical questions, but I am not doing something right because I don't come off very likeable or something.. It is hard to get very much feedback to know exactly what I am doing wrong. I have always gotten very good performance reviews and I am well liked at work, but if there is one area for improvement on my reviews it has always been communication. So I ask, can anyone give out some advice, I have tried toastmasters a few times, but does anyone have other tips or ideas? Has anyone else had a similar experiences?"

+ - Back to the moon - in four years->

Submitted by braindrainbahrain
braindrainbahrain (874202) writes "Gene Rush, a former division chief at NASA Johnson, is running a five-part series on how the US can return to the Moon in four years. And not just land there, but actually build a base on the Moon.

How is this feasible? Hint: A public/private partnership between NASA and and a private space travel company."

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+ - Malware Attack Infected 25,000 Linux/UNIX Servers->

Submitted by wiredmikey
wiredmikey (1824622) writes "Security researchers from ESET have uncovered a widespread attack campaign that has infected more than 25,000 Linux and UNIX servers around the world.

The servers are being hijacked by a backdoor Trojan as part of a campaign the researchers are calling 'Operation Windigo.' Once infected, victimized systems are leveraged to steal credentials, redirected web traffic to malicious sites and send as much as 35 million spam messages a day. "Windigo has been gathering strength, largely unnoticed by the security community, for more than two and a half years and currently has 10,000 servers under its control," said Pierre-Marc Bureau, security intelligence program manager at ESET, in a statement.

There are many misconceptions around Linux security, and attacks are not something only Windows users need to worry about. The main threats facing Linux systems aren't zero-day vulnerabilities or malware, but things such as Trojanized applications, PHP backdoors, and malicious login attempts over SSH.

ESET recommends webmasters and system administrators check their systems to see if they are compromised, and has published a detailed report presenting the findings and instructions on how to remove the malicious code if it is present."

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+ - Microsoft Launches Free OneNote For Mac And Windows

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft today revealed three major announcements regarding its OneNote offering: a free version of OneNote for Mac, a freemium version of OneNote for Windows, and a new cloud API for first- and third-party apps to communicate directly with OneNote. With the launch of OneNote for Mac, Microsoft says OneNote is now available “on all the platforms you care about” and “they’re always in sync.” That includes the PC, Mac, Windows tablets, Windows Phone, iPad, iPhone, Android, and the Web. As for the free version for Windows, it has no ads nor any limit for how long you can use it for: this is not just a trial. Everything you create in the free PC and Mac clients is synced to OneDrive, so you can access them from your phone and tablet as well."

+ - The Poor Neglected Gifted Child

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes ""Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore," explains The Boston Globe's Amy Crawford in The Poor Neglected Gifted Child, "have national laws requiring that children be screened for giftedness, with top scorers funneled into special programs. China is midway through a 10-year 'National Talent Development Plan' to steer bright young people into science, technology, and other in-demand fields." It seems to be working — America's tech leaders are literally going to Washington with demands for "comprehensive immigration reform that allows for the hiring of the best and brightest". But in the U.S., Crawford laments, "we focus on steering all extra money and attention toward kids who are struggling academically, or even just to the average student" and "risk shortchanging the country in a different way." The problem advocates for the gifted must address, Crawford explains, is to "find ways for us to develop our own native talent without exacerbating inequality." And address it we must. "How many people can become an astrophysicist or a PhD in chemistry?" asks David Lubinski, a psychologist at Vanderbilt University. We really have to look for the best — that's what we do in the Olympics, that's what we do in music, and that's what we need to with intellectual capital.""

+ - Conservation Communities Takes Root Across US

Submitted by Hugh Pickens DOT Com
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Kate Murphy reports at the NYT about a growing number of so-called agrihoods, residential developments where a working farm is the central feature, in the same way that other communities may cluster around a golf course, pool or fitness center. At least a dozen projects across the country are thriving, enlisting thousands of home buyers who crave access to open space, verdant fields and fresh food. “I hear from developers all the time about this,” says Ed McMahon. “They’ve figured out that unlike a golf course, which costs millions to build and millions to maintain, they can provide green space that actually earns a profit.” Agritopia, outside Phoenix, has sixteen acres of certified organic farmland, with row crops (artichokes to zucchini), fruit trees (citrus, nectarine, peach, apple, olive and date) and livestock (chickens and sheep). Fences gripped by grapevines and blackberry bushes separate the farm from the community’s 452 single-family homes, each with a wide front porch and sidewalks close enough to encourage conversation. The hub of neighborhood life is a small square overlooking the farm, with a coffeehouse, farm-to-table restaurant and honor-system farm stand. The square is also where residents line up on Wednesday evenings to claim their bulging boxes of just-harvested produce, eggs and honey, which come with a $100-a-month membership in the community-supported agriculture, or CSA, program. “Wednesday is the highlight of my week,” says Ben Wyffels. “To be able to walk down the street with my kids and get fresh, healthy food is amazing." Because the Agritopia farm is self-sustaining, no fees are charged to support it, other than the cost of buying produce at the farm stand or joining the CSA. Agritopia was among the first agrihoods — like Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga.; Prairie Crossing in Grayslake, Ill.; South Village in South Burlington, Vt.; and Hidden Springs in Boise, Idaho. “The interest is so great, we’re kind of terrified trying to catch up with all the calls,” says Quint Redmond adding that in addition to developers, he hears from homeowners’ associations and golf course operators who want to transform their costly-to-maintain green spaces into revenue-generating farms. Driving the demand, Redmond says, are the local-food movement and the aspirations of many Americans to be gentlemen (or gentlewomen) farmers. “Everybody wants to be Thomas Jefferson these days.""

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