Barence writes "Dropbox has kicked off its first developer conference with the stated goal of replacing the hard disk. 'We are replacing the hard drive,' said Dropbox CEO Drew Houston. 'I don't mean that you're going to unscrew your MacBook and find a Dropbox inside, but the spiritual successor to the hard drive is what we're launching.' The new Dropbox Platform includes tools for developers that will allow them to use Dropbox to sync app data between devices. The company's new APIs will also make it easier for app developers to include plugins that save to Dropbox, or choose files stored in the service for use within apps."
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vinces99 writes "Millions of people in low-income countries still depend on public computer and Internet access venues despite the global proliferation of mobile phones and home computers. However, interest in providing such public access has waned in recent years, especially among development agencies, as new technologies become available. But a five-year, eight-country study recently concluded by researchers at the University of Washington Information School has found that community access to computer and Internet technology remains a crucial resource for connecting people to the information and skills they need in an increasingly digital world. The Global Impact Study of Public Access to Information & Communication Technologies surveyed 5,000 computer users at libraries, telecenters and cybercafés and 2,000 nonusers at home to learn about patterns of public access use. The researchers also surveyed 1,250 operators of public access venues and conducted seven in-depth case studies to examine issues that have generated controversy. The study was conducted in eight low- and middle-income countries on three continents: Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Ghana, Lithuania, Philippines and South Africa."
curtwoodward writes "Sure, developers might pull their hair out trying to keep track of all the versions of the Android operating system scattered across hundreds of millions of mobile devices worldwide. But a co-founder of Android says the OS's fragmentation problem is being blown out of proportion. At an event this week in Boston, Rich Miner — now a partner at Google Ventures — said some level of fragmentation is inevitable with Android's reach and the number of partners in the ecosystem. But things are getting better, he said, and in any case most consumers don't notice the difference: `This is a bit of an overblown issue, frankly.'"
coondoggie writes "The space missions to Mars have so far been one way — satellites and robotic rovers have all gone there to stay. NASA, as part a of a new, ambitious Mars visit, wants to change that by sending a rover to the surface of the Red Planet which can dig up chunks of the surface and send them back to Earth for highly detailed examination. These plans were laid out in a lengthy report outlining mission plans for Mars that will be acted upon over the next decade. It says a retrieval mission 'could occur as early as the mid-2020s or wait until the 2030s.'"
MrMetlHed writes "A portion of this Reuters article about the Pentagon's inability to manage paying soldiers properly mentions that their payroll program has 'seven million lines of Cobol code that hasn't been updated.' It goes on to mention that the documentation has been lost, and no one really knows how to update it well. In trying to replace the program, the Pentagon spent a billion dollars and wasn't successful."
cyclomedia writes "Over a number of years my company has managed to slowly shift from a free-for-all (pick a developer at random and get them to do what you want) to something resembling Agile development with weekly builds. But we still have to deal with constant incoming feature changes and requests that are expected to be included in this week's package. The upshot is that builds are usually late, not properly tested and developers get the flak when things go wrong. I suspect the answer is political, but how do we make things better? One idea I had was that every time a new request comes in — no matter how small — the build gets pushed back by 24 or even 48 hours. I'd love to hear your ideas or success stories. (Unfortunately, quitting is not an option)"
astroengine writes "As NASA's New Horizons probe powers through interplanetary space, it's keeping a careful eye forward, watching its target gradually loom larger on the proverbial celestial horizon. But earlier this month the spacecraft spotted something right next to Pluto — a pixelated Charon, the dwarf planet's largest moon. 'The image itself might not look very impressive to the untrained eye, but compared to the discovery images of Charon from Earth, these 'discovery' images from New Horizons look great!' said New Horizons Project Scientist Hal Weaver, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD. 'We're very excited to see Pluto and Charon as separate objects for the first time from New Horizons.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "In 2009, when Apple dropped the Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions from songs sold through the iTunes Store, it seemed like a huge victory for consumers, one that would usher in a more customer-friendly economy for digital media. But four years later, DRM is still alive and well — it just lives in the cloud now. Streaming media services are the ultimate form of copy protection — you never actually control the media files, which are encrypted before delivery, and your ability to access the content can be revoked if you disagree with updated terms of service; you're also subject to arbitrary changes in subscription prices. This should be a nightmare scenario to lovers of music, film, and television, but it's somehow being hailed by many as a technical revolution. Unfortunately, what's often being lost in the hype over the admittedly remarkable convenience of streaming media services is the simple fact that meaningfully relating to the creative arts as a fan or consumer depends on being able to access the material in the first place. In other words, where your media collection is stored (and can be remotely disabled at a whim) is not something to be taken lightly. In this essay, developer Vijith Assar talks about how the popularity of streaming content could result in a future that isn't all that great. 'Ultimately, regardless of the delivery mechanism, the question is not one of streaming versus downloads,' he writes. 'It's about whether you want to have your own media library or request access to somebody else's. Be careful.'"
dcblogs writes "There are about 18.2 million software developers worldwide, a number that is due to rise to 26.4 million by 2019, a 45% increase, says Evans Data Corp. in its latest Global Developer Population and Demographic Study. Today, the U.S. leads the world in software developers, with about 3.6 million. India has about 2.75 million. But by 2018, India will have 5.2 million developers, a nearly 90% increase, versus 4.5 million in the U.S., a 25% increase though that period, Evans Data projects. India's software development growth rate is attributed, in part, to its population size, 1.2 billion, and relative youth, with about half the population under 25 years of age. Rapid economic growth is fueling interest in development. India's services firms hire, in many cases, thousands of new employees each quarter. Consequently, IT and software work is seen as clear path to the middle class for many of the nation's young. For instance, in one quarter this year, Tata Consultancy Services added more than 17,000 employees, gross, bringing its total headcount to 263,600. In the same quarter of 2010, the company had about 150,000 workers."
benrothke writes "Every organization has external software, hardware and 3rd-party vendors they have to deal with. In many cases, these vendors will have direct access to the corporate networks, confidential and proprietary data and more. Often the software and hardware solutions are critical to the infrastructure and security of the organization. If the vendors don't have effective information security and privacy controls in place, your data is at risk. In addition, when selecting a product to secure your organization, how do you ensure that you are selecting the correct product? All of this is critical in the event of a breach. When the lawyers start circling, they will be serving subpoenas to your company, not your 3rd-party vendors." Keep reading for Ben's review.
Swedish Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge reports that a fansite providing subtitles for movies has been raided by Swedish police at the behest of the copyright industry. "The movie subtitle fansite undertexter.se, literally meaning subtitles.se, is a site where people contribute their own translations of movies. This lets people who aren't good at the original language of a movie or cartoon put those fan-made subtitles – fansubs – on top of the movie or cartoon. Fansubbing is a thriving culture which usually provides better-than-professional subtitles for new episodes with less than 24 hours of turnaround (whereas the providers of the original cartoon or movie can easily take six months or more). What’s remarkable about this raid is that the copyright industry has decided to do a full-out raid against something that is entirely fan-made. It underscores the general sentiment of the copyright monopoly not protecting the creator of artwork, but protecting the big distribution monopolies, no matter who actually created the art."
LeadSongDog writes "Germany's TerraSAR-X satellite is showing that the Antarctic's Pine Island ice shelf has calved a 'berg of 720 square kilometres, 'the size of Hamburg.' Angelika Humbert says 'The Western Antarctic land ice is on land which is deeper than sea level. Its "bed" tends towards the land. The danger therefore exists that these large ice masses will become unstable and will start to slide.' The article extrapolates that 'If the entire West Antarctic ice shield were to flow into the Ocean, this would lead to a global rise in sea level of around 3.3 meters.' Goodbye Florida.
itwbennett writes "U.C. Berkeley researchers have determined that crowdsourcing bug-finding is a far better investment than hiring employees to do the job. Here's the math: Over the last three years, Google has paid $580,000 and Mozilla has paid $570,000 for bugs found in their Chrome and Firefox browsers — and hundreds of vulnerabilities have been fixed. Compare that to the average annual cost of a single North American developer (about $100,000, plus 50% overhead), 'we see that the cost of either of these VRPs (vulnerability reward programs) is comparable to the cost of just one member of the browser security team,' the researchers wrote (PDF). And the crowdsourcing also uncovered more bugs than a single full-time developer could find."
Doofus writes "Masao Yoshida, director of the Daichii Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, has passed away. Colleagues and politicos in Japan praised his disobedience during the post-tsunami meltdown and credited him with preventing much more widespread and intense damage. From the article: 'On March 12, a day after the tsunami, Mr. Yoshida ignored an order from Tepco headquarters to stop pumping seawater into a reactor to try and cool it because of concerns that ocean water would corrode the equipment. Tepco initially said it would penalize Mr. Yoshida even though Sakae Muto, then a vice president at the utility, said it was a technically appropriate decision. Mr. Yoshida received no more than a verbal reprimand after then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan defended the plant chief, the Yomiuri newspaper reported. "I bow in respect for his leadership and decision-making," Kan said Tuesday in a message posted on his Twitter account.'"
benjymouse writes "Following a blog post by security company Secunia, VideoLAN (vendor of popular VLC media player) president Jean-Baptiste Kempf accuses Secunia of lying in a blog post titled 'More lies from Secunia.' It seems that Secunia and Jean-Baptiste Kempf have different views on whether a vulnerability has been patched. At one point VLC threatened legal action unless Secunia updated their SA51464 security advisory to show the issue as patched. While Secunia changed the status pending their own investigation, they later reverted to 'unpatched.' Secunia claimed that they had PoC illustrating that the root issue still existed and 3rd party confirmation (an independent security researcher found the same issue and reported it to Secunia)." There are two bugs: one is a vulnerability in ffmpeg's swf parser that vlc worked around since they don't support swf. The VLC developers think Secunia should have reported the bug to ffmpeg, which seems pretty sensible. The other bug is an uncaught exception in the Matroska demuxer with overly large chunks that merely results in std::terminate being called; the Matroska demux maintainer apologized, but, despite dire warnings from Secunia that it could be exploitable, it most certainly is not.
Michi writes "According to Anatoly Zak, the crash of the Russion Proton rocket on 1 July was apparently caused by several angular velocity sensors having been installed upside down. From the source: 'Each of those sensors had an arrow that was supposed to point toward the top of the vehicle, however multiple sensors on the failed rocket were pointing downward instead.' It seems amazing that something as fundamental as this was not caught during quality control. Even more amazing is that the design of the sensors permits them to be installed in the wrong orientation in the first place. Even the simplest of mechanical interlocks (such as a notch at one end that must be matched with a corresponding projection) could have prevented the accident." A review of the quality control procedures used by the contractors responsible is underway.
Despite many publishers themselves settling with the DOJ over allegations of price fixing ebooks, Apple held firm and recently went to trial. And now the verdict is in: Apple conspired with major publishers to control ebook prices in violation of anti-trust laws. A trial for damages has been ordered. Quoting Reuters: "The decision by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan is a victory for the U.S. government and various states, which the judge said are entitled to injunctive relief. ... Cote said the conspiracy resulted in prices for some e-books rising to $12.99 or $14.99, when Amazon had sold for $9.99. 'The plaintiffs have shown that the publisher defendants conspired with each other to eliminate retail price competition in order to raise e-book prices, and that Apple played a central role in facilitating and executing that conspiracy,' Cote said. 'Without Apple's orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded as it did in the spring of 2010,' she added." Update: 07/10 16:36 GMT by U L : The ruling is now available (160 page PDF).
ph4cr writes with news that a few researchers have discovered an alloy that allows them to print 3D structures from liquid metal at room temperature. From the article: "'It's difficult to create structures out of liquids, because liquids want to bead up. But we’ve found that a liquid metal alloy of gallium and indium reacts to the oxygen in the air at room temperature to form a "skin" that allows the liquid metal structures to retain their shapes,' says Dr. Michael Dickey, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the work. ... One technique involves stacking droplets of liquid metal on top of each other, much like a stack of oranges at the supermarket. The droplets adhere to one another, but retain their shape – they do not merge into a single, larger droplet. ... Another technique injects liquid metal into a polymer template, so that the metal takes on a specific shape. The template is then dissolved, leaving the bare, liquid metal in the desired shape. The researchers also developed techniques for creating liquid metal wires, which retain their shape even when held perpendicular to the substrate." The paper is available online. There's also a video of the process in action, below the fold.
First time accepted submitter freddej writes "Heml.is ("secret" in Swedish), is a new peer encrypted messaging service from some of the guys behind TPB and Flattr. They describe it as this: 'Our focus is your privacy so we are building everything from software to company structure to protect that. The others are focused on maximizing profit.' So if you agree on the mantra that 'if you're not paying, you're the product' then you might want to check them out." Caveats: they are begging for money and there is no mention whether this will be Free Software or some kind of proprietary service (in which case, how can you really trust it?). It looks more likely it will be a closed application/service: "We're building a message app where no one can listen in, not even us. We would rather close down the service before letting anyone in ... [what will codes unlock?] It will give you access to extended features of Heml.is like sending image messages and other stuff in the future. Pre-register username will let you register your username before the app is released."
interval1066 writes "A story in Wired describes Orson Scott Card's quest for tolerance in response to a boycott for Gavin Hood's film adaption of Ender's Game, saying that 'The gay marriage issue is moot' in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. Card is a long time anti-gay and defense of marriage activist. 'His concern, ostensibly, is that someone might be petty enough not to see his movie simply because he spent years lobbying for laws that treated certain people as less than human. The fallacy he employs here — that calling out hate-speech is intolerance on par with curtailing the human rights of others — is a favorite fallback of cowards and bullies, and a way of evading responsibility for the impact of their words and actions.' I guess he didn't see this film and the box-office importance of wide appeal coming, did he?"
nanday writes "GNOME Shell Extensions have done more than any other set of features to make GNOME 3 usable. Nearly 270 in number, they provide a degree of customization that was missing in the first GNOME 3 releases. In fact, if you choose, you can use the extensions to go far beyond Classic GNOME and re-create almost exactly the look and feel of GNOME 2 while taking advantage of the latest GNOME 3 code."
theshowmecanuck writes "I'm working at a small- to medium-sized company that creates software for mobile devices, but came from a 'large enterprise' world before. I see node.js being used increasingly in smaller companies (including ours) or in web/mobile related software. Meanwhile we see languages like Java/JEE, C/C++, and .NET continue to be used for medium-to-large enterprise corporate software. Compared to the status quo in the enterprise (JEE/C/C++/.NET ... and yes, maybe even COBOL) maybe Slashdotters can chime in on how they see Node.js in this role. I'm thinking of things like complexity of business logic (dependencies, workflows, linear processes, etc), transaction support (for processes in general and database support), messaging services, etc. Also, what is the state of Node.js in terms of paradigms like application containers, where much of the 'plumbing' is already set up for you (one of the main benefits of JEE application containers)? But there is also the question of maintainability, deployment, and ongoing operations. What say you, Slashdot?"
MojoKid writes "big.LITTLE is ARM's solution to a particularly nasty problem: smaller and smaller process nodes no longer deliver the kind of overall power consumption improvements they did years ago. Before 90nm technology, semiconductor firms could count on new chips being smaller, faster, and drawing less power at a given frequency. Eventually, that stopped being true. Tighter process geometries still pack more transistors per square millimeter, but the improvements to power consumption and maximum frequency have been falling with each smaller node. Rising defect densities have created a situation where — for the first time ever — 20nm wafers won't be cheaper than the 28nm processors they're supposed to replace. This is a critical problem for the mobile market, where low power consumption is absolutely vital. big.LITTLE is ARM's answer to this problem. The strategy requires manufacturers to implement two sets of cores — the Cortex-A7 and Cortex-A15 are the current match-up. The idea is for the little cores to handle the bulk of the device's work, with the big cores used for occasional heavy lifting. ARM's argument is that this approach is superior to dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS) because it's impossible for a single CPU architecture to retain a linear performance/power curve across its entire frequency range. This is the same argument Nvidia made when it built the Companion Core in Tegra 3."
An anonymous reader writes "The French Parliament just wrote into law the first instance of Free Software priority in a public service, by adopting the Bill on Higher Education and Research. [Advocacy association April], after extensively contributing to the debate, especially welcomes this vote and congratulates Deputies and Senators for recognizing the importance of Free Software in the Public Service for Higher Education, since it alone can ensure equal access to the future public service. April hopes that this first step will be followed by other legislation in favor of Free Software. It also thanks all the persons who mobilized and contacted the Parliament Members."
theodp writes "Last July, Inside Higher Ed presciently predicted that 2013 would be the year of the Massively Open Online Camp. GeekWire's Blair Hanley Frank reports that O'Reilly-spinoff MAKE Magazine is partnering with Google to run Maker Camp, a 30-day online summer camp for kids who love DIY projects and learning about how things are made. Camp started Monday, but it's not too late to join the fun."
MarkWhittington writes "Two House Democrats, Reps. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), have proposed a bill called Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act, H.R. 2617 (PDF), that would establish the Apollo Lunar Landing Sites National Historical Park at all the Apollo lunar landing sites, according to a story in The Hill. 'The park would be comprised of all artifacts left on the surface of the moon from the Apollo 11 through 17 missions. The bill says these sites need to be protected because of the anticipated increase in commercial moon landings in the future.'"