Dawn Kawamoto writes "Cisco's CEO John Chambers dealt employees a blow Wednesday, saying the networking giant would cut 4,000 workers from the payroll. Not quite a death blow, but this 5 percent cut could leave some employees gasping. Chambers took the knife to Cisco last year, cutting 2 percent of its workforce."
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Nerval's Lobster writes "Three years ago, game designer and author Jane McGonigal argued that saving the human race is going to require a major time investment—in playing video games. 'If we want to solve problems like hunger, poverty, climate change, global conflict, obesity, I believe that we need to aspire to play games online for at least 21 billion hours a week [up from 3 billion today], by the end of the next decade,' she said in a TED talk. Her message was not ignored—and it has indirectly contributed to the formation of something called the Internet Response League (IRL). The small group has a big goal: to harness gamers' time and use it to save lives after disasters, natural or otherwise. The idea is to insert micro-tasks into games, specifically asking gamers to tag photos of disaster areas. With the IRL plugin, each image would be shown to at least three people, who tag the photo as showing no damage, mild damage, or severe damage. The Internet Response League has been in talks with a couple of indie developers, including one that's developing a new MMO. Mosur said they've tried to get in touch with World of Warcraft maker Blizzard, but haven't had any luck yet. Blizzard did not return a request for comment from Slashdot."
tsu doh nimh writes "The success of social networking community Twitter has given rise to an entire shadow economy that peddles dummy Twitter accounts by the thousands, primarily to spammers, scammers and malware purveyors. But new research on identifying bogus accounts has helped Twitter to drastically deplete the stockpile of existing accounts for sale, and holds the promise of driving up costs for both vendors of these shady services and their customers. Krebsonsecurity.com writes about a paper (PDF) being released today at the USENIX conference that details how researchers spent almost a year and $5,000 buying up accounts from 27 twitter account merchants, and then built templates to help Twitter detect accounts sold by these merchants — all with the aim of getting more of these bot accounts shut down before they can be used to spam legitimate Twitter users. The story goes into great detail on the lengths to which these account merchants will go to evade Twitter's anti-bot security measures."
dryriver writes "Brain scans may allow detection of dyslexia in pre-school children even before they start to read, say researchers. A U.S. team found tell-tale signs on scans that have already been seen in adults with the condition. And these brain differences could be a cause rather than a consequence of dyslexia — something unknown until now — the Journal of Neuroscience reports. Scans could allow early diagnosis and intervention, experts hope. The part of the brain affected is called the Arcuate Fasciculus. Among the 40 school-entry children they studied they found some had shrinkage of this brain region, which processes word sounds and language. They asked the same children to do several different types of pre-reading tests, such as trying out different sounds in words. Those children with a smaller Arcuate Fasciculus had lower scores."
melios sends this quote from an University of Washington news release: "[E]ngineers have created a new wireless communication system that allows devices to interact with each other without relying on batteries or wires for power. The new communication technique, which the researchers call 'ambient backscatter,' takes advantage of the TV and cellular transmissions that already surround us around the clock. Two devices communicate with each other by reflecting the existing signals to exchange information. The researchers built small, battery-free devices with antennas that can detect, harness and reflect a TV signal, which then is picked up by other similar devices."
An anonymous reader writes "Following the publication in May of George Packer's alarming article in the New Yorker revealing the state of the communities surrounding California's tech boom, the LA Times reports that despite the wake-up call, things are getting even worse in the Bay Area as tech companies seek to completely insulate their employees from ever having to interact with the real world. Quoting: 'Every weekday starting at dawn and continuing late into the evening, a shiny fleet of unmarked buses rolls through the streets of San Francisco, picking up thousands of young technology workers at dozens of stops and depositing them an hour's drive south. It's an exclusive perk offered by Apple, Facebook, Google and other major Silicon Valley companies: luxury coaches equipped with air conditioning, plush seats and wireless Internet access that ease the stress of navigating congested Bay Area roadways. The private mass transit system has become the most visible symbol of the digital gold rush sweeping this city, and of the sharpening division between those who are riding the high-tech industry's good fortunes and those who are not.'"
itwbennett writes "The German Federal Intelligence Service said in a news release that the U.S. has verbally committed to enter into a no-spying agreement with Germany. The no-spying agreement talks were announced as part of a progress report on an eight-point program proposed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in July with measures to better protect the privacy of German citizens. In the progress report, the German government found that U.S. intelligence services comply with German law. Also, the operators of large German Internet exchanges and the federal government did not find any evidence that the U.S. spies on Germans, the government said."
bjhonermann writes "The Zambian government (along with partners) are currently rolling out an electronic medical records (EMR) system in public health facilities. The project has been going on for some time and is already in 600+ facilities with more than 700,000 patient records. One problem we're facing is that most information is still being double entered in the EMR as well as on primary paper documents at the facility, and sometimes additionally transcribed to paper registers. This double/triple entry takes time away from nurses who are already in short supply. There's an inability to fully move away from partially paper based systems both because clients often move between 'paper clinics' and 'electronic clinics' in the same communities and for follow-up care, and because the power systems in many sites are unreliable and require that there be sufficient paper backups of records for operations during periods where power is unavailable — perhaps for weeks at a time. We're providing solar panels and battery backups for sites, which work increasingly well with newer low power CPUs, but even if the power issue were solved this would not address the need for portable paper documents. The key objective of eliminating redundant manual entry of forms and paper registers by nurses might be accomplished if we had low cost low power B/W printers available at sites so that critical information could be entered electronically and then printed out as needed, either for client carried purposes (transfers/visits to 'paper facilities') or to serve as local backup when power is an issue. However, we've yet to find printing solutions that seem appropriate to the context and are hopeful the Slashdot crowd may have some ideas." Read on for some more specific criteria.
chicksdaddy writes "ITWorld has an interesting opinion piece on the next privacy battleground, which they say will be over citizens' rights to use jamming technology to (forcibly) opt-out of ubiquitous surveillance, as sensors pop up in more and more public spaces and private homes alike. 'Given the rapid pace of technological change, we don't know exactly what the future holds for us. But one thing is certain: personal privacy is going to turn from a "right" to a "fight" in the next decade, as individuals take up arms against government and private sector snooping on their personal lives.' The article mentions some skirmishes that have already occurred: employees using GPS jamming hardware to prevent employers from tracking their every movement, and the crush of new business for encrypted voice, video and texting services like SilentCircle (up 400% in the last two months). 'Absent the protection of the law, citizens should be expected to do what they do elsewhere: take matters into their own hands: latching onto tools and technology to give them the privacy that they aren't afforded by the legal system. However, there may not be an easy technology fix for ubiquitous, unregulated surveillance. Writing in Wired this week, Jathan Sadowski warns that the tendency for individuals to focus on securing their own data and communications and using technology to do may be misleading. 'The problem is that focusing on one or both of these approaches distracts from the much-needed political reform and societal pushback necessary to dig up a surveillance state at its root,' Sadowski writes."
jones_supa writes "Bloomberg, the WSJ and the NYT cheered to report that the Euro Zone's economy has showed signs of recovery after two years of decline. They're all based on the news that Eurostat, the keeper of economic statistics for the European Union, says GDP grew 0.3 percent within the EU's borders from the end of March through June. As Olli Rehn, Eurostat's vice president, writes on his blog: 'I hope there will be no premature, self-congratulatory statements suggesting "the crisis is over."' He calls the GDP report only another sign of 'a potential turning point in the EU economy.' The quick conclusion by some economists and some in the news media that a slight rise in one quarter's GDP means a recession is over ignores how experts figure out when an economy is either in a significant downturn (a recession) or enjoying steady growth (an expansion)."
vinces99 writes "For more than a century scientists have known that Earth's ice ages are caused by the wobbling of the planet's orbit, which changes its orientation to the sun and affects the amount of sunlight reaching higher latitudes, particularly the polar regions. The Northern Hemisphere's last ice age ended about 20,000 years ago, and most evidence has indicated that the ice age in the Southern Hemisphere ended about 2,000 years later, suggesting that the south was responding to warming in the north. But new research published online Aug. 14 in Nature (abstract) shows that Antarctic warming began at least 2,000, and perhaps 4,000, years earlier than previously thought."
Bruce Berger is an IT guy, but he's also an amateur astronomer who takes telescope selection and scope building extra-seriously. We ran a video interview with him yesterday. Today that interview continues, with more emphasis on telescope selection and purchasing. He mentions Orion, a telescope vendor he seems to respect, along with other sources for both new and used equipment. Which should you buy (or build): A reflector or a refractor telescope? Bruce talks about how you should make your selection based on what you want to view, your skill level, and how much time and/or money you have available.
A group of researchers from MIT and the University of Ireland has presented a paper (PDF) showing that one of the most important assumptions behind cryptographic security is wrong. As a result, certain encryption-breaking methods will work better than previously thought. "The problem, Médard explains, is that information-theoretic analyses of secure systems have generally used the wrong notion of entropy. They relied on so-called Shannon entropy, named after the founder of information theory, Claude Shannon, who taught at MIT from 1956 to 1978. Shannon entropy is based on the average probability that a given string of bits will occur in a particular type of digital file. In a general-purpose communications system, that’s the right type of entropy to use, because the characteristics of the data traffic will quickly converge to the statistical averages. ... But in cryptography, the real concern isn't with the average case but with the worst case. A codebreaker needs only one reliable correlation between the encrypted and unencrypted versions of a file in order to begin to deduce further correlations. ... In the years since Shannon’s paper, information theorists have developed other notions of entropy, some of which give greater weight to improbable outcomes. Those, it turns out, offer a more accurate picture of the problem of codebreaking. When Médard, Duffy and their students used these alternate measures of entropy, they found that slight deviations from perfect uniformity in source files, which seemed trivial in the light of Shannon entropy, suddenly loomed much larger. The upshot is that a computer turned loose to simply guess correlations between the encrypted and unencrypted versions of a file would make headway much faster than previously expected. 'It’s still exponentially hard, but it’s exponentially easier than we thought,' Duffy says."
Nerval's Lobster writes "For most businesses, data analytics presents an opportunity. But for DARPA, the military agency responsible for developing new technology, so-called 'Big Data' could represent a big threat. DARPA is apparently looking to fund researchers who can 'investigate the national security threat posed by public data available either for purchase or through open sources.' That means developing tools that can evaluate whether a particular public dataset will have a significant impact on national security, as well as blunt the force of that impact if necessary. 'The threat of active data spills and breaches of corporate and government information systems are being addressed by many private, commercial, and government organizations,' reads DARPA's posting on the matter. 'The purpose of this research is to investigate data sources that are readily available for any individual to purchase, mine, and exploit.' As Foreign Policy points out, there's a certain amount of irony in the government soliciting ways to reduce its vulnerability to data exploitation. 'At the time government officials are assuring Americans they have nothing to fear from the National Security Agency poring through their personal records,' the publication wrote, 'the military is worried that Russia or al Qaeda is going to wreak nationwide havoc after combing through people's personal records.'"