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Submission + - Spy agency, DOE, are very worried about China's supercomputing advances (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: Advanced computing experts at the National Security Agency and the Department of Energy are warning that China is "extremely likely" to take leadership in supercomputing as early as 2020, unless the U.S. acts quickly to increase spending. China's supercomputing advances are not only putting national security at risk, but also U.S. leadership in high-tech manufacturing. If China succeeds, it may "undermine profitable parts of the U.S. economy," according to a report titled U.S. Leadership in High Performance Computing by HPC technical experts at the NSA, the DOE, the National Science Foundation and other agencies. The report stems from a workshop held in September that was attended by 60 people, many scientists, 40 of whom work in government, with the balance representing industry and academia. Meeting participants, especially those from industry, noted that it can be easy for Americans to draw the wrong conclusions about what HPC investments by China mean – without considering China's motivations," the report states. "These participants stressed that their personal interactions with Chinese researchers and at supercomputing centers showed a mindset where computing is first and foremost a strategic capability for improving the country; for pulling a billion people out of poverty; for supporting companies that are looking to build better products, or bridges, or rail networks; for transitioning away from a role as a low-cost manufacturer for the world; for enabling the economy to move from 'Made in China' to 'Made by China."

Submission + - SPAM: Presidential Order on a Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Execute Branch

schwit1 writes: Section 1. Purpose. This order is intended to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of the executive branch by directing the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (Director) to propose a plan to reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies (as defined in section 551(1) of title 5, United States Code), components of agencies, and agency programs.

Sec. 2. Proposed Plan to Improve the Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Accountability of Federal Agencies, Including, as Appropriate, to Eliminate or Reorganize Unnecessary or Redundant Federal Agencies.
(a) Within 180 days of the date of this order, the head of each agency shall submit to the Director a proposed plan to reorganize the agency, if appropriate, in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of that agency.

(b) The Director shall publish a notice in the Federal Register inviting the public to suggest improvements in the organization and functioning of the executive branch and shall consider the suggestions when formulating the proposed plan described in subsection (c) of this section.

(c) Within 180 days after the closing date for the submission of suggestions pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, the Director shall submit to the President a proposed plan to reorganize the executive branch in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of agencies. The proposed plan shall include, as appropriate, recommendations to eliminate unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs, and to merge functions. The proposed plan shall include recommendations for any legislation or administrative measures necessary to achieve the proposed reorganization.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - US Intelligence Seeks a Universal Translator For Text Search In Any Language (arstechnica.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA), the U.S. Intelligence Community’s own science and technology research arm, has announced it is seeking contenders for a program to develop what amounts to the ultimate Google Translator. IARPA’s Machine Translation for English Retrieval of Information in Any Language (MATERIAL) program intends to provide researchers and analysts with a tool to search for documents in their field of concern in any of the more than 7,000 languages spoken worldwide. The specific goal, according to IARPA’s announcement, is an “‘English-in, English-out’ information retrieval system that, given a domain-sensitive English query, will retrieve relevant data from a large multilingual repository and display the retrieved information in English as query-biased summaries.” Users would be able to search vast numbers of documents with a two-part query: the first giving the “domain” of the search in terms of what sort of information they are seeking (for example, “Government,” “Science,” or “Health”) and the second an English word or phrase describing the information sought (the examples given in the announcement were “zika virus” and “Asperger's syndrome”). The system would be used in situations like natural disasters or military interventions in remote locations where the military has little or no local language expertise. Those taking on the MATERIAL program will be given access to a limited set of machine translation and automatic speech recognition training data from multiple languages ”to enable performers to learn how to quickly adapt their methods to a wide variety of materials in various genres and domains,” the announcement explained. “As the program progresses, performers will apply and adapt these methods in increasingly shortened time frames to new languages... Since language-independent approaches with quick ramp up time are sought, foreign language expertise in the languages of the program is not expected.” The good news for the broader linguistics and technology world is that IARPA expects the teams competing on MATERIAL to publicly publish their research. If successful, this moonshot for translation could radically change how accessible materials in many languages are to the rest of the world.
 

Submission + - Fifty years ago today: the Apollo 1 launchpad fire (nasaspaceflight.com)

schwit1 writes:

Fifty years ago Friday, the first – but sadly not the last – fatal spaceflight accident struck NASA when a fire claimed the lives of Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Roger Chaffee, and Ed White during a training exercise at Launch Complex 34. The accident, a major setback for the struggling Apollo program, ushered in the first understanding of the “bad day” effects of schedule pressure for spaceflight and brought with it words and reminders that still echo today.

The article provides a very detailed and accurate look at the history and causes of the accident, as well as its consequences, which even today influence American space engineering.

Submission + - The Minecraft Parent

HughPickens.com writes: Michael Agger has an interesting article in the New Yorker about parenting in the internet era and why Minecraft is the one game parents want their kids to play.

Screens are no longer simply bicycles for the mind; they are bicycles that children can ride anywhere, into the virtual schoolyard where they might encounter disturbing news photos, bullies, creeps, and worse. Setting a child free on the Internet is a failure to cordon off the world and its dangers. It’s nuts. We inure ourselves to this craziness by relying on the basic innocence of kids: they could type all sorts of unseemly things into that Google search box, but they usually don’t.

The comfort of games is that they are partially walled off from the larger Internet, with their own communities and leaderboards. But what unsettles parents about Internet gaming, despite fond memories of after-school Nintendo afternoons, is its interconnectivity.

Minecraft is played by both boys and girls, unusually. Players can join together to build worlds together: airports, castles, cave systems, roller coasters, an accurate replica of Westeros. At its best, the game is not unlike being in the woods with your best friends. Parents also join in. The Internet is full of testimonials of parents playing with their kids, of children reading their first word in Minecraft, and other milestones usually performed in the analog world.

According to Agger the significance of Minecraft is how the game shows us that lively, pleasant virtual worlds can exist alongside our own, and that they are places where we want to spend time, where we learn and socialize. “To me what Minecraft represents is more than a hit game franchise,” says new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “It’s this open-world platform. If you think about it, it’s the one game parents want their kids to play.” We need to meet our kids halfway in these worlds, and try to guide them like we do in the real world concludes Agger. "Who knows how Minecraft will change under Microsoft’s ownership, but it’s a historic game that has shown many of us a middle way to navigate the eternal screens debate."

Submission + - Apple to Unveil New Products at Sept. 9 Event (nbcwashington.com)

Halolland writes: The Cupertino company sent out official invitations to the press Thursday morning, with a date (September 9th), time, and place (10am, Cupertino). The invitation also came with a brief message: 'Wish We Could Say More."

The tech press is already saying plenty about the event, speculating that we'll see a new iPhone, a new iPad (both reportedly larger), and maybe even the long-guessed about iWatch. Apple is not saying anything beyond its emailed invitation.

Submission + - In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment for a Novelist (theatlantic.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: A 23-year-old teacher at a Cambridge, Md. middle school has been placed on leave and—in the words of a local news report—"taken in for an emergency medical evaluation" for publishing, under a pseudonym, a novel about a school shooting. The novelist, Patrick McLaw, an eighth-grade language-arts teacher at the Mace's Lane Middle School, was placed on leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education, and is being investigated by the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, according to news reports from Maryland's Eastern Shore. The novel, by the way, is set 900 years in the future.

Submission + - 160,000 New Malware Samples Appear Each Day

An anonymous reader writes: Malware is still being created at the record levels reached in the previous quarter: 15 million new samples were generated, at an average rate of 160,000 every day, according to Panda Security. Trojans, once again, have accounted for more infections (62.8%) than any other type of malware, although this figure is lower than the previous quarter (79.90%). Potentially Unwanted Programs are in second place with 24.77% of infections, underlining how these techniques are now being used massively. A long way behind came adware/spyware (7.09%), viruses (2.68%) and worms (2.66%).

Submission + - Apple reveals the most common reasons that it rejects apps

mrspoonsi writes: One of the great mysteries of the App Store is why certain apps get rejected and why others don’t. Apple has let a surprising number of ripoffs and clones through the store’s iron gates, yet some developers face rejection for seemingly innocent apps. “Before you develop your app, it’s important to become familiar with the technical, content, and design criteria that we use to review all apps,” explains Apple on a new webpage called “Common App Rejections.” Rejections include: Apple and our customers place a high value on simple, refined, creative, well thought through interfaces. They take more work but are worth it. Apple sets a high bar. If your user interface is complex or less than very good, it may be rejected; Apps that contain false, fraudulent or misleading representations or use names or icons similar to other Apps will be rejected.

Submission + - Stealing ATM PINs with a cheap infrared camera (youtube.com) 1

cccc828 writes: German tech news website heise.de reports about a video by Mark Rober. It shows how to use a $300 infrared camera for the iPhone to read the residual heat signatures of an ATM. The residual heat signatures allow an attacker to reconstruct the PIN around 80% of the time. While this attack vector is not new, IR cameras used to be both rare and expensive. The best defense against the attack is to simply touch all the keypads keys after making a payment.

Submission + - Invasion Of Ukraine Continuing As Russia Begins Nuclear Weapons Sabre Rattling (news.com.au) 3

cold fjord writes: News.com.au reports, "This morning, Prime Minister Tony Abbott labelled Russia’s escalating and “open” invasion into Ukraine as “war”. But he was not only person using fighting words. ... on Friday, Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threat was simple. “I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations. This is a reality, not just words.” It’s the first time in more than 25 years that Moscow has raised the spectre of nuclear war. The difference this time is that its tanks are already pouring over its western borders. “A great war arrived at our doorstep, the likes of which Europe has not seen since World War II,” Ukraine’s Defence Minister Valeriy Geletey wrote ... warning of “tens of thousands of deaths”. Putin appears to agree. Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports Putin has told the outgoing European Commission President ... : “If I want, I take Kiev in two weeks.” " — CNN reports, "The British government source told CNN on Friday that Russia has moved 4,000 to 5,000 military personnel — a figure far higher than one U.S. official's earlier claim of 1,000 troops. The soldiers are aligned in "formed units" and fighting around Luhansk and Donetsk.... And they may soon have company: Some 20,000 troops are on border and "more may be on the way," ..." — Newsweek reports, "Russia Has Threatened Nuclear Attack, Says Ukraine Defence Minister"

Submission + - Akamai reissues all SSL certificates after admitting Heartbleed patch fail (techworld.com.au)

SpacemanukBEJY.53u writes: It took security researcher Willem Pinckaers all of 15 minutes to spot a flaw in code created by Akamai that the company thought shielded most of its users from one of the pernicious aspects of the Heartbleed flaw in OpenSSL. More than a decade ago, Akamai modified parts of OpenSSL it felt were weak related to key storage. Akamai CTO Andy Ellis wrote last week that the modification protected most customers from having their private SSL stolen despite the Heartbleed bug. But on Sunday Ellis wrote Akamai was wrong after Pinckaers found several flaws in the code. Akamai is now reissuing all SSL certificates and keys to its customers.

Submission + - Macs Plus iOS Devices Outnumber Windows PC Sales Worldwide 1

An anonymous reader writes: For a very long time, Windows has had supreme dominance of the desktop market: over 90% for decades. Thats still true. But computing has in many ways moved beyond the desktop. As of last quarter, combined worldwide sales of Macs, iPads, and iPhones outnumber those of Windows PCs. If you add Windows phone, then Microsoft can still claim dominance. Also, if you subtract the iPhones (just keeping iPads), Microsoft is still ahead... but for how much longer? Internet Explorer moved from the ubiquitous browser to a continuously shrinking player solely in the desktop market. How much longer can Microsoft keep its reputation as the OS of choice for computing?

Submission + - Federal smartphone kill-switch legislation proposed (networkworld.com) 1

alphadogg writes: Pressure on the cellphone industry to introduce technology that could disable stolen smartphones has intensified with the introduction of proposed federal legislation that would mandate such a system. Senate bill 2032, "The Smartphone Prevention Act," was introduced to the U.S. Senate this week by Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat. The bill promises technology that allows consumers to remotely wipe personal data from their smartphones and render them inoperable. But how that will be accomplished is currently unclear. The full text of the bill was not immediately available and the offices of Klobuchar and the bill's co-sponsors were all shut down Thursday due to snow in Washington, D.C.

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