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Businesses

Submission + - Duke professor, billionaire debate higher education's value on '60 Minutes' (wraltechwire.com)

dak664 writes: Vivek Wadhwa, a former high-tech entrepreneur in the Triangle who now teaches at Duke and Stanford universities, is matched against billionaire Peter Thiel Sunday night in a CBS "60 Minutes" segment exploring the value of a college degree.

Thiel is paying 20 young people $100,000 a year to drop out or not go to college in order to pursue new business ideas.

Wadhwa says Thiel is sending the wrong message.

Medicine

Submission + - Why People Don't Live Past 114 (singularityhub.com) 1

kkleiner writes: "Average life expectancy has nearly doubled in developed countries over the 20th century. But a puzzling part to the equation has emerged. While humans are in fact living longer lives on average, the oldest age that the oldest people reach seems to be stubbornly and oddly precisely cemented right at 114. What will it takes for humans to live beyond this limit?"
NASA

Submission + - Roger Boisjoly, 73, Dies - Warned of Shuttle Danger (nytimes.com) 1

macs4all writes: Six months before the space shuttle Challenger exploded over Florida on Jan. 28, 1986, Roger Boisjoly wrote a portentous memo. He warned that if the weather was too cold, seals connecting sections of the shuttle’s huge rocket boosters could fail. “The result could be a catastrophe of the highest order, loss of human life,” he wrote.

The memo was meant to jolt Morton Thiokol, the company that made the boosters and employed Mr. Boisjoly. The night before the Challenger’s liftoff, the temperature dipped below freezing. Unusual for Florida, the cold was unprecedented for a shuttle launching, and it prompted Mr. Boisjoly and other engineers to plead that the flight be postponed. Their bosses, under pressure from NASA, rejected the advice.

The shuttle exploded 73 seconds after launching, killing its seven crew members, including Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher from Concord, N.H.Mr. Boisjoly’s memo was soon made public. He became widely known as a whistle-blower in a federal investigation of the disaster. And though he was hailed for his action by many, he was also made to suffer for it.On the night of Jan. 27, 1986, Mr. Boisjoly and four other Thiokol engineers used a teleconference with NASA to press the case for delaying the next day’s launching because of the cold. At one point, Mr. Boisjoly said, he slapped down photos showing the damage cold temperatures had caused to an earlier shuttle. It had lifted off on a cold day, but not this cold.

“How the hell can you ignore this?” he demanded. At first this seemed persuasive, according to commission testimony. Makers of critical components had the power to postpone flights.

Four Thiokol vice presidents, all engineers themselves, went offline to huddle. They later said that they had worried they lacked conclusive data to stop a launching that had already been postponed twice. They thought the naysayers might be operating on gut reaction, not science.

Jerry Mason, Thiokol’s general manager, told his fellow executives to take off their engineering hats and put on management hats. They told NASA it was a go.

The next morning Mr. Boisjoly watched the launching. If there was going to be a problem, he thought it would come at liftoff. As the shuttle cleared the tower, his prayers seemed answered.

“Thirteen seconds later,” Mr. Boisjoly said, “we saw it blow up.”

Mr. Boisjoly (pronounced like Beaujolais wine) died in Nephi, Utah, near Provo, on Jan. 6. He was 73. Besides his wife, the former Roberta Malcolm, he is survived by his daughters Norma Patterson and Darlene Richens; his brothers Ronald, Russell and Richard; and eight grandchildren.

Software

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: I am the Ted Nugent* of Software Inv (lulu.com) 1

Clay Shannon writes: "Ted Nugent once said something to the effect that he had more ideas for songs than he had time to write the songs.

I have the same "problem" with ideas for software. I have several "great" (in my estimation, of course) ideas for software, but I'm just one guy — who also happens to have a "day job" (programming for a large corporation) that severely restricts my personal coding time (I know: "wah, wah").

I would not mind "outsourcing" the actual detailed design and development work to others, however the following challenges exist:

1) I can't afford to pay anybody
2) I'm afraid that when I relate my ideas, they will get "borrowed"

So, I want to play the role, if you will, of project manager, or even just the "idea man" and even leave the project managing to others. I'm willing to "share the wealth" (and the risk) with others, but again, am not in a position to hire coders to do the work I would do myself if I just had the time.

Verily (alas!)*, or should I say, BUT, how is this possible? Is this something I should approach a "venture capitalist" (investor/speculator) with? If so, how? Who? etc.

* I bet you never expected to read the name "Ted Nugent" and the word "verily" in the same diatribe!"

Privacy

Submission + - Fun & Games Hacking German Smart Meters (securityweek.com)

wiredmikey writes: At the recent 28C3 security conference, researchers demonstrated how they could spoof the energy usage reported from a smart meter to the utility. All of this is because the utility in question misconfigured its SSL.

Researchers Dario Carluccio and Stephan Brinkhaus discovered that the SSL certificate for the utility was badly misconfigured so the data in transit wasn’t actually encrypted.

  This lead to a more interesting discovery: The utility polled their smart meters every two seconds, meaning the utility collected and maintained a fairly accurate and very granular record of home usage. The unencrypted data in transit could potentially allow anyone to collect and maintain a similar record of their own—which is what they did.

They used the smart meter’s MAC address to spoof the unencrypted packets going back to the provider, and therefore compromise the record being kept at the utility. Not only could they tamper with the smart meter results, they managed to manipulate data to specific spikes and valleys. In one report, the energy usage fluctuations spelled out “U have been hacked”.

Google

Submission + - Google Deploys IPv6 for Internal Network (itworld.com)

itwbennett writes: "Google is four years into a project to roll out IPv6 to its entire internal employee network. At the Usenix Large Installation System Administration (LISA) conference in Boston last week, Google network engineer Irena Nikolova shared some lessons others can learn from Google's experience. For example: It requires a lot of work with vendors to get them to fix buggy and still-unfinished code. 'We should not expect something to work just because it is declared supported,' the paper accompanying the presentation concluded."

Submission + - What`s Your Plan for Controlling Mercury (HG) Emis (iac-intl.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Coal-fired power plants, as well as industrial coal-fired boilers, are now subject to complying with the latest EPA MACT standards for the reduction of mercury gasses/particulates in the gas streams. Based on individual state mandates, many coal-fired power plants have begun to reduce mercury emissions. The EPA approach is central to the plan to reduce mercury from power plants.
Science

Submission + - Walk-Through-Wall Effect Possible? (sciencemag.org)

Med-trump writes: You can't walk through a wall. But this is possible for subatomic particles by a process called quantum tunneling. Now, a team of physicists says that it might just be possible to observe such tunneling with a larger, humanmade object, though others say the proposal faces major challenges. The research, conducted by scientists in Finland was publised this month in Physical Review B (Abstract).
Patents

Submission + - EU - Software Ideas Can't be Copyrighted (reuters.com)

bhagwad writes: "The EU continues to ooze common sense as a court insists that software functions themselves cannot be copyrighted. Drawing a box or moving cursor are examples. To quote: "If it were accepted that a functionality of a computer program can be protected as such, that would amount to making it possible to monopolize ideas, to the detriment of technological progress and industrial development,""
Space

Submission + - Mars rover's nuclear laser heat ray (theregister.co.uk)

PolygamousRanchKid writes: The Register rayguns desk is pleased to report that we have now obtained full specifications on the powerful laser heat-ray disintegrator blaster fitted to the NASA Mars rover Curiosity, which departed planet Earth on Saturday and is even now hurtling through the void of space towards a rendezvous with destiny in the red planet's Elysium Planitia region . . . First up is the headlining spec: Curiosity's laser is mighty indeed, capable of putting out a beam at no less than megawatt intensity . . . But in fact it turns out that the Martian explorer's beam can be sustained only for tiny instants of time, just enough for it to vapourise "an area the size of a pinhead" from the rocks or clayey ancient mud strata of the Gale Crater, at ranges of up to 23 feet. This disintegration of the Martian dirt under the rover's heat-ray (for the laser operates in the infrared) will cause it to scatter and emit telltale light, revealing its chemical makeup to "ChemCam" instruments on the vehicle . . . Apart from the laser heatray disintegrator pinhead blaster, the Los Alamos boffins have also been involved in sorting out Curiosity's nuclear powerpack, which provides juice for the laser and all the rover's other systems (unsurprisingly, as Los Alamos was a key location in early US nuclear research). Solar panels couldn't furnish enough energy, reliably enough, for such a large and capable rover in the relatively feeble Martian sunlight.
HP

Submission + - Millions of HP LaserJet printers vulnerable to hac (extremetech.com) 1

MrSeb writes: "It seems, though HP is yet to confirm it, that researchers from Columbia University have found a security hole in “tens of millions” of HP LaserJet printers that allows a remote hacker to install new and dangerous firmware on the device. In one example, the researchers used the vulnerability to hack a printer’s fuser — the heating element that dries the ink — causing the paper to turn brown and begin to smoke. The attack vector is depressingly simple: Every time a vulnerable LaserJet printer accepts a print job, it scans that job to see if it includes a firmware update. Unbelievably, the printer doesn't then check the source of the update; HP doesn't digitally sign its updates, and the printer isn't looking for HP's signature. In other words, you can reverse engineer one of HP's firmware updates, program your own, and then insert it into a print job. You can install whatever software you like on millions of network- and internet-connected LaserJet printers."
Hardware

Submission + - Seagate's new HHD with 8GB of flash (extremetech.com)

MrSeb writes: "Remember the hybrid hard drive? It’s basically a hard drive with an extra large cache and it was essentially a stop-gap between the hard drive and the SSD. Back in 2007 both Seagate and Samsung were showing off these drives, and they made a lot of sense then — the drives would combine the speed of flash with the capacity of a mechanical disk. What could go wrong? It turns out that a fair amount, making the so-called HHDs compare poorly against both hard drives and solid-state drives. But, to its credit, Seagate never gave up. Today the company is back with its third-generation HHD, the 750GB Momentus XT. Just to get the basics out of the way, the Momentus XT is only available as 750GB 2.5-inch drive, with 8GB of single-level cell (SLC) flash (the last generation had 4GB), a 6Gb/s interface, and a rotational speed of 7200RPM. As always, the repeated promise from Seagate is that hybrid drives can give prosumers and enthusiasts the best of both worlds: the capacity of a HDD, and the speed and access tiem of the SSD. With the Momentus XT, it seems like they might finally have done it."
Technology

Submission + - Student builds girlfriend tablet for $125 (geek.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: Not everyone can afford an iPad, even the $200 Kindle Fire is going to be out of reach for many cash-strapped individuals. But one student in China has demonstrated you only need $125 and a bit of DIY to create your very own device.

Wei Xinlong wanted to get his girlfriend Sun Shasha a tablet for her birthday, but the cost put everything that was available pre-built out of reach. So Wei decided to see what he could create with his own two hands.

The end result was a Windows 7 touchscreen tablet that apparently has roughly the same measurements as the iPad, but created from a used laptop, touchscreen and battery he sourced online.

Data Storage

Submission + - Hard drive prices going up 150% in less than two m (channelregister.co.uk) 1

zyzko writes: "The Register reports that hard drive prices (lowest average unit prices) have rocketed 151% from October 1 to November 14th. The worst days have seen over 5% daily price increases. The reason for this is attributed to floods in Thailand but there are concerns of artificial price fixing and suspicion that retailers or members of supply channel are taking advantage of the situation."
Apple

Submission + - Production for new iPad Screen Begins (fellowgeek.com)

fellowgeek writes: Production for the high-resolution displays to be featured on the next-generation of iPads has just begun. "It's happening QXGA, 2048x1536. Panel production has started [for the next-generation iPad]. There's three suppliers," said Richard Shim, an analyst at DisplaySearch in an interview. Shim referenced other reports that put three companies behind the production: Samsung, Sharp, and LGD...

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