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Submission + - Trump's problem: Will China, Japan, Europe or U.S. build first exascale system? (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: The global race to develop an exascale supercomputer may be a Sputnik moment for President Donald Trump. The new administration has said nothing about its plans for supercomputing. Will it participate in the global race to develop an exascale supercomputer? The supercomputing race is going to turn very real for the Trump administration. China and Japan both have plans to deliver an exascale system by 2020. Europe is well in the race and has targeted 2022, but it could deliver something earlier. The U.S. plan had a delivery date of 2023-24 — until a few weeks ago. In the final weeks of the Obama administration, a new plan emerged to produced the nation's first exascale system by 2021. The U.S. Department of Energy's Exascale Computing Project "is now a 7-year project, not a 10-year project, but it will cost more," said Paul Messina, a computer scientist at the Argonne National Laboratory and head of the project. But the Hill recently reported that the Trump administration is considering cutting the Dept. of Energy's advance computing budget to 2008 levels.

Submission + - Senate bills ends visa lottery, gives U.S. grads preference (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: A new bill in Congress would give foreign students who graduate from U.S. schools priority in getting an H-1B visa. The legislation also "explicitly prohibits" the replacement of American workers by visa holders. This bill, the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act, was announced Thursday by its co-sponsors, U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), longtime allies on H-1B reform. Grassley is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which gives this bill an immediate big leg up in the legislative process. This legislation would end the annual random distribution, via a lottery, of H-1B visas, and replace it with a system to give priority to certain types of students. Foreign nationals in the best position to get one of the 85,000 H-1B visas issued annually will have earned an advanced degree from a U.S. school, have a well-paying job offer, and have preferred skills. The specific skills weren't identified, but will likely be STEM-related.

Submission + - Trump assembles band of H-1B supporters to advise him (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: In his campaign for president, Donald Trump tapped into the viral anger over the use of H-1B visa to displace U.S. workers. The outsourcing of high-skill jobs is a "tremendous threat," he said. Disney workers who trained visa-holding replacements spoke at some of his rallies. But soon after the election, President-elect Trump assembled a 16-member team of CEO-level executives to advise him on job creation, including many from firms that send jobs overseas and have advocated for an H-1B cap increase. Trump's appointments included one of the pioneers of offshore outsourcing to India: Jack Welch, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric. Also on this committee is Bob Iger, the chairman and CEO of Disney, whose offshoring of Disney IT workers was a topic at a Republican presidential candidate debate. The chairman of the "President's Strategic and Policy Forum" is Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and CEO of Blackstone, a private equity firm that is betting on the success of IT offshore outsourcing. Blackstone last year acquired a majority stake in Mphasis, an India-based IT services firm that is categorized by the U.S. as H-1B dependent, meaning 15% or more of its workers are on a visa. Following Trump's appointments, the Partnership for New York City, a business group, issued a report detailing five "federal priorities." One priority includes immigration reform to increase the H-1B cap and allowing U.S. companies "to hire skilled workers based on labor market demands, not fixed and arbitrary quotas." The Partnership for New York noted in this report that six of its members were members of Trump's economic advisory committee.

Submission + - Obamacare repeal has gig economy worried (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: Repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement leaves some 18 million without health insuance in the first year alone, the Congressional Budget Office warned Tuesday. Millions more will lose insurance later on. The estimate includes independent, or gig, workers who use Fiverr's job marketplace. "The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is incredibly important," said Brent Messenger, Fiverr's global head of community. A wholesale repeal of the ACA, or Obamacare, will not only "negatively impact our marketplace but the gig economy as a whole," he said. Republicans in Congress and President-elect Donald Trump are promising an Obamacare replacement, but so far they haven't delivered it. That is making people nervous, because some of the ACA's provisions — including coverage for pre-existing conditions — are very important, especially to older independent workers, Jane Langeman, an independent management consultant and president of the Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP), "Many of us are on our second-career as independent business owners and have a lot of life and pre-existing conditions under our belts," said Langeman. "The Affordable Care Act made it easier for business owners to even get health insurance, especially when faced with pre-existing health conditions," she said.

Submission + - Trump's Treasury pick appears to be part of a federal investigation (muckrock.com)

v3rgEz writes: Trump's transition strategy of picking some of the shadiest people on earth is still going strong. The latest: According to the FBI, his Treasury pick Steven Mnuchin is involved with an "ongoing investigation", as reported by Mike Best over at the FOIA site MuckRock. Best requested Mnuchin's FBI files, but the request was rejected under the grounds of an open investigation, likely related to Mnuchin's superbly-timed exit from Relativity Media — right before it cratered.

Submission + - Vapour Voting in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

Presto Vivace writes: Jill Stein has done the nation a tremendous public service

Pennsylvania has the worst voting system of all. The vast majority of voters use machines with no paper ballot to verify the vote. According to leading computer scientists, these direct recording electronic machines, or DREs, are unreliable, antiquated and easy to hack. ... ... The machines claim, for example, that more than 4,000 voters in Montgomery County , Pa., took the trouble to go to the polls, then supposedly voted for no one in any election. In reality, when these voters in Montgomery selected candidates on the machine, a “no vote” box popped up, meaning thousands of votes were lost inside those machines.

Submission + - Parents sue Apple for toddler's death after a traffic accident. (fox5sandiego.com)

sabri writes: A Texas couple is going after the money by suing Apple for the tragic death of their daughter. How Apple contributed to the girl's death?

Garrett Wilhelm, 22, was able to use FaceTime while driving 65mph on Interstate I-35 near Dallas on Christmas Eve in 2014, when he slammed into the back of someone else's vehicle.

Wait while I sue McDonalds for being fat.

Submission + - Smart Electricity Meters Can Be Dangerously Insecure, Warns Expert (theguardian.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Smart electricity meters, of which there are more than 100 million installed around the world, are frequently “dangerously insecure," a security expert has said. The lack of security in the smart utilities raises the prospect of a single line of malicious code cutting power to a home or even causing a catastrophic overload leading to exploding meters or house fires, according to Netanel Rubin, co-founder of the security firm Vaultra. If a hacker took control of a smart meter they would be able to know “exactly when and how much electricity you’re using”, Rubin told the 33rd Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg. An attacker could also see whether a home had any expensive electronics. “He can do billing fraud, setting your bill to whatever he likes [...] The scary thing is if you think about the power they have over your electricity. He will have power over all of your smart devices connected to the electricity. This will have more severe consequences: imagine you woke up to find you’d been robbed by a burglar who didn’t have to break in. “But even if you don’t have smart devices, you are still at risk. An attacker who controls the meter also controls the meter’s software, allowing him to cause it to literally explode.” The problems at the heart of the insecurity stem from outdated protocols, half-hearted implementations and weak design principles. To communicate with the utility company, most smart meters use GSM, the 2G mobile standard. That has a fairly well-known weakness whereby an attacker with a fake mobile tower can cause devices to “hand over” to the fake version from the real tower, simply by providing a strong signal. In GSM, devices have to authenticate with towers, but not the other way round, allowing the fake mast to send its own commands to the meter. Worse still, said Rubin, all the meters from one utility used the same hardcoded credentials. “If an attacker gains access to one meter, it gains access to them all. It is the one key to rule them all.”

Submission + - Facing layoff at Carnival, IT employee makes bold counteroffer (computerworld.com) 1

dcblogs writes: In early December, Carnival Corp. told about 200 IT employees that the company was transferring their work to Capgemini, a large IT outsourcing firm. The employees had a choice: Either agree to take a job with the contractor or leave without severance. The employees had until the week before Christmas to make a decision about their future with the cruise line. By agreeing to a job with Paris-based Capgemini, employees are guaranteed employment for six months, said Roger Frizzell, a Carnival spokesman. "Our expectation is that many will continue to work on our account or placed into other open positions within Capgemini" that go well beyond the six-month period, he said in an email. But one employee isn't buying any of it. After receiving his offer letter from Capgemini, he sent a counteroffer. It asked for a $500,000 letters and apology letters to all the affected families.

Submission + - Silicon Valley's Trump rebellion now has EFF calling for more encryption (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation is keenly worried that President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress will step up surveillance activities and pass laws that infringe on electronic rights. The EFF is advising the tech sector to use end-to-end encryption for every transaction by default and to scrub logs. "You cannot be made to surrender data you do not have," the EFF said. "It's very clear to us that he (President-elect Donald Trump) is no friend to civil liberties," sais Rainey Reitman, director of the EFF's activism team. It believes Trump and the new Congress will seek encryption backdoors. The tech community is wary, generally, of Trump. More than 1,000 people who work at tech firms have signed a pledge, Neveragain.tech, not to help the incoming administration create a database to target people because of race or religion or to facilitate mass deportations. In arguing for resistance, Neveragain is pointing to the importance of databases used in atrocities back to World War II. Commenting generally on the use of data collection by governments, Christopher Browning, a Holocaust researcher who wrote a number of books on the Holocaust, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland said that in western Europe, especially The Netherlands, "registration is a key, endangering factor."

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The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

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