Hugh Pickens writes "When it comes to infrastructure, politicians usually prefer shiny new projects over humdrum repairs. A brand-new highway is exciting: There's a ribbon-cutting, and there's less need to clog up existing lanes with orange cones and repair crews. So it's not surprising that 57 percent of all state highway funding goes toward new construction, often stretching out to the suburbs, even though new roads represent just 1.3 percent of the overall system. Now Brad Plumer writes in the Washington Post that many transportation reformers think this is a wrong-headed approach and that we should focus our dollars on fixing and upgrading existing infrastructure rather than continuing to build sprawling new roads). UCLA economist Matthew Kahn and the University of Minnesota's David Levinson made a more detailed case for a 'fix-it first' strategy. They noted that, at the moment, federal highway spending doesn't get subjected to strict cost-benefit analysis, and governments often build new roads when they arguably shouldn't (PDF). And that's to say nothing of data suggesting that poor road conditions are a 'significant factor' in one-third of all fatal crashes, and cause extra wear and tear on cars."
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holy_calamity writes "A machine learning breakthrough from Google researchers that grabbed headlines this summer is now being put to work improving the company's products. The company revealed in June that it had built neural networks that run on 16,000 processors simultaneously, enough power that they could learn to recognize cats just by watching YouTube. Those neural nets have now made Google's speech recognition for U.S. English 25 percent better, and are set to be used in other products, such as image search."
cervesaebraciator writes "A new species of heterodontosaur, called Pegomastax, has been identified. Paul Sereno, a University of Chicago paleontologist, published a description of this species in a recent issue of ZooKeys. Although this diminutive (60 cm or less) species was herbivorous, it also possessed a set of sharp, stabbing canines in its parrot-shaped beak. Dr. Sereno holds that these canines where likely 'for nipping and defending themselves, not for eating meat.' Perhaps the most imaginatively intriguing aspect of all, the body of the Pegomastix might have been covered in porcupine-like quills, making for perhaps the least attractive dinosaur of all time. You can almost hear Dieter Stark screaming 'Helvetes jävlar!'"
Trailrunner7 writes "RSA's FraudAction research team has been monitoring underground chatter and has put together various clues to deduce that a cybercrime gang is actively recruiting up to 100 botmasters to participate in a complicated man-in-the-middle hijacking scam using a variant of the proprietary Gozi Trojan. This is the first time a private cybercrime organization has recruited outsiders to participate in a financially motivated attack, said Mor Ahuvia, cybercrime communications specialist for RSA FraudAction. The attackers are promising their recruits a cut of the profits, and are requiring an initial investment in hardware and training in how to deploy the Gozi Prinimalka Trojan, Ahuvia added. Also, the gang will only share executable files with their partners, and will not give up the Trojan's compilers, keeping the recruits dependent on the gang for updates."
alphadogg writes "While the Wi-Fi world is rightly abuzz over the rapidly approaching large-scale deployment of the new 802.11ac standard, experts at an Interop NY panel said this week that the 802.11ad standard is likely to be even more transformative. '802.11ac is an extension for pure mainstream Wi-Fi,' said Sean Coffey, Realtek's director of standards and business development. 'It's evolutionary. ... You're not going to see dramatically new use cases." By contrast, 802.11ad adds 60GHz connectivity to the previously used 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, potentially providing multi-gigabit connection speeds and dramatically broadening the number of applications for which wireless can be used."
pacopico writes "Much has been made about Facebook hitting 1 billion users. But Businessweek has the inside story detailing how the site actually copes with this many people and the software Facebook has invented that pushes the limits of computer science. The story quotes database guru Mike Stonebraker saying, 'I think Facebook has the hardest information technology problem on the planet.' To keep Facebooking moving fast, Mark Zuckerberg apparently instituted a program called Boot Camp in which engineers spend six-weeks learning every bit of Facebook's code."
derekmead writes "Billions worldwide still don't have access to proper sanitation, and those that do still require a ton of water and electricity to keep waste flowing. A French company is offering one solution: Use turd-eating worms to compost waste right at the source. Ecosphere Technologies has developed an outhouse that, rather than relying on chemicals like a port-a-john, relies on about a pound of red wiggler worms. A new installation in Quebec uses imported worms, placed inside of a mixture of dung and straw underneath to toilet, to devour feces delivered to them by a conveyor belt system. (When someone uses the toilet, pee filters through sand to wash away, while a pedal allows the user to transport their poo to the worm space.) The whole system uses no water or electricity, and a series of passive vents allegedly keeps the toilet smelling great. The company claims it can be used 10,000 times without servicing, which is far better than what a port-a-potty can boast, although with a current price tag of $40k for the worm system, port-a-potties are still a lot cheaper."
itwbennett writes "That army of robotic assembly line workers we mentioned yesterday apparently can't get started soon enough. As many as 3,000-4,000 workers are on strike at Foxconn's Zhengzhou factory, upset at stricter quality control requirements with the iPhone 5 and having to work through a national holiday this week. 'According to workers, multiple iPhone 5 production lines from various factory buildings were in a state of paralysis for the entire day,' China Labor Watch said. Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo are both blocking searches in Chinese for 'Foxconn strikes.'"
crookedvulture writes "SSD prices continue plummeting. In just the past quarter, street prices have fallen by double-digit percentages for most models, with some slashed by 30% or more. We've reached the point where the majority of drives cost less than a dollar per gigabyte, and that's without the special coupon codes and mail-in rebates usually attached to weekly deals. Lower-capacity drives seem more resistant to deep price cuts, making 120-256GB offerings the best values right now. It's nice to see a new class of devices go from prohibitively expensive to eminently affordable in such a relatively short amount of time."
snydeq writes "First, it was data caps on cellular, and now caps on wired broadband — welcome to the end of the rich Internet, writes Galen Gruman. 'People are still getting used to the notion that unlimited data plans are dead and gone for their smartphones. The option wasn't even offered for tablets. Now, we're beginning to see the eradication of the unlimited data plan in our broadband lines, such as cable and DSL connections. It's a dangerous trend that will threaten the budding Internet-based video business — whether from Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Windows Store, or Google Play — then jeopardize Internet services of all sorts. It's a complex issue, and though the villains are obvious — the telecom carriers and cable providers — the solutions are not. The result will be a metered Internet that discourages use of the services so valuable for work and play.'"
ptorrone writes "Adafruit, the NYC based open-source hardware company led by Ladyada released their open-source Raspberry Pi WebIDE alpha today. Its goal is to be 'The easiest way to develop code on your Raspberry Pi.' To get up and running head on over to learn.adafruit.com/webide and follow the installation and setup instructions. It uses Bitbucket, and any code changes you make will be synced to your Bitbucket account. Adafruit chose Bitbucket over GitHub because they offer free secure accounts, which is very important for a Web-based IDE."
An anonymous reader writes "Like any popular platform, Android has malware. Google's mobile operating system is relatively new, however, so the problem is still taking form. In fact, it turns out that the larger majority of threats on Android come from a single malware family: Android.FakeInstaller, also known as OpFake, which generates revenue by silently sending expensive text messages in the background. McAfee says that the malware family makes up more than 60 percent of Android samples the company processes."
Talcyon writes "I'm a 40-year-old developer, and it's become apparent that my .NET skillset is woefully out of date after five years of doing various bits of support. I tried the 'Management' thing last year, but that was a failure as I'm just not a people person, and a full-on development project this year has turned into a disaster area. I'm mainly a VB.NET person with skills from the .NET 2.0 era. Is that it? Do I give up a career in technology now? Or turn around and bury myself in a support role, sorting out issues with other people's/companies' software? I've been lurking around Slashdot for many years now, and this question occasionally comes up, but it pays to get the opinions of others. Do I retrain and get back up to speed, or am I too old?"
sfcrazy writes "Samsung has created a new Linux file system called F2FS. Jaegeuk Kim of Samsung writes on the Linux Kernel Mailing List: F2FS is a new file system carefully designed for the NAND flash memory-based storage devices. We chose a log structure file system approach, but we tried to adapt it to the new form of storage. Also we remedy some known issues of the very old log structured file system, such as snowball effect of wandering tree and high cleaning overhead."