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Submission + - Facebook crashes Android app to test Loyalty (www.cbc.ca)

nairnr writes: A report published this week by San Francisco-based tech publication The Information has industry journalists and casual Facebook users alike shaking their heads over what the social network is now alleged to have done in an effort to glean information: Make its own Android app crash, on purpose, to see how people would react.

"Facebook has tested the loyalty and patience of Android users by secretly introducing artificial errors that would automatically crash the app for hours at a time" writes veteran tech reporter Amir Efrati for The Information, referring to Facebook's app in the Google Play store.

Submission + - ORACLE CEO LARRY ELLISON STEPS DOWN

mrspoonsi writes: Oracle founder Larry Ellison is stepping down as CEO. He will be replaced by two executives. Former Oracle presidents Safra Catz and Mark Hurd will be co-CEOs. Ellison will be the Executive Chairman of Oracle's Board, and the company's CTO. Oracle's shares are off by 3% on the news. "Larry has made it very clear that he wants to keep working full time and focus his energy on product engineering, technology development and strategy," said the Oracle Board's Presiding Director, Dr. Michael Boskin.

Submission + - Pixar to give away 3D RenderMan software (bbc.com)

nairnr writes: The 3D rendering software behind films such as Toy Story, Monsters Inc and Harry Potter is to be given away free for non-commercial use.
RenderMan, which is developed by Pixar, has faced increased competition from rival animation rendering programmes such as VRay and Arnold.

Although Pixar, which is owned by Disney, produces its own films, it licenses RenderMan to rival studios.
In a statement, the firm said it would release a free version of RenderMan "without any functional limitations, watermarking, or time restrictions".

"Non-commercial RenderMan will be freely available for students, institutions, researchers, developers, and for personal use," it added.

Ian Dean, editor of computer graphics magazine 3D World, told the BBC the move "could be seen as a reaction to the rise of alternatives such as Arnold," but that Disney/Pixar are also looking to "build a community".

He added that RenderMan, which has been around for more than 25 years, was "very important at the higher end of the entertainment, animation and visual effects industries".

Submission + - Oracle, RedHat tapped to fix Obama Health Care site. (nbcnews.com)

nairnr writes: The troubled federal health insurance website, which went offline just before a climactic hearing in Congress, is back in action again, officials said Thursday.

They said Healthcare.gov was working and handling fairly high volumes. And after days of badgering from Congress, journalists and critics, officials named two of the tech whizzes drafted to help fix the troubled site.

“Our focus now is really on maintaining system stability and testing,” Julie Bataille spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the site, told reporters in a telephone briefing.

Obama says an "A-team" of technical experts has been brought in to fix the problems. He appointed his incoming chief economic adviser, Jeff Zients, to head the project. But CMS had given little detail about just who was working on the site.

Bataille finally named some of them. “They come from leading technology companies such as Red Hat and Oracle; and include individuals with expertise on site reliability; stability; and scalability," she said.

Submission + - International Space Station switching to Linux (globalnews.ca) 1

nairnr writes: Computers aboard the International Space Station have switched from the Windows operating system in favour of Linux.

The United Space Alliance – the company responsible for managing the computer systems aboard the station – has switched “dozens of laptops” that were previously running Windows XP to Debian 6 OS.

In a blow to Windows, Keith Chuvala of the United Space Alliance noted that the switch was made in order to ensure improved reliability.

“We migrated key functions from Windows to Linux because we needed an operating system that was stable and reliable,” said Chuvala in a release from Linux Foundation.

NASA

Submission + - 35 years later, Voyager 1 is heading for the stars (ajc.com)

DevotedSkeptic writes: "Thirty-five years after leaving Earth, Voyager 1 is reaching for the stars.

Sooner or later, the workhorse spacecraft will bid adieu to the solar system and enter a new realm of space — the first time a manmade object will have escaped to the other side.

Perhaps no one on Earth will relish the moment more than 76-year-old Ed Stone, who has toiled on the project from the start.

"We're anxious to get outside and find what's out there," he said.

When NASA's Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 first rocketed out of Earth's grip in 1977, no one knew how long they would live. Now, they are the longest-operating spacecraft in history and the most distant, at billions of miles from Earth but in different directions.

Wednesday marks the 35th anniversary of Voyager 1's launch to Jupiter and Saturn. It is now flitting around the fringes of the solar system, which is enveloped in a giant plasma bubble. This hot and turbulent area is created by a stream of charged particles from the sun.

Outside the bubble is a new frontier in the Milky Way — the space between stars. Once it plows through, scientists expect a calmer environment by comparison.

When that would happen is anyone's guess. Voyager 1 is in uncharted celestial territory. One thing is clear: The boundary that separates the solar system and interstellar space is near, but it could take days, months or years to cross that milestone.

Voyager 1 is currently more than 11 billion miles from the sun. Twin Voyager 2, which celebrated its launch anniversary two weeks ago, trails behind at 9 billion miles from the sun."

Submission + - FAA Creates Website for Reporting Laser-Strikes (star-telegram.com) 1

hutsell writes: "The Federal Aviation Administration has launched a website to report laser strikes on aircraft, which have rose from about 300 in 2005 to 3,129 as of Nov. 25. The FAA said major metropolitan areas report the highest number of laser strikes. The agency announced that it would impose civil penalties of up to $11,000 for people who point lasers at aircraft cockpits.

An excerpt FTA: When a laser beam broke the darkness and flooded the "bubble" of his helicopter, CareFlite pilot Scott Wallace got scared — afraid of being blinded and of crashing and dooming himself and the nurse and paramedic on board as well as anyone on the ground.

Then he got mad."

Android

Submission + - FBI Admits Carrier IQ Used For Law Enforcement (muckrock.com)

bonch writes: A FOIA request has revealed that the FBI is using Carrier IQ data for investigative purposes. In response to a request for documents related to accessing Carrier IQ information, the FBI replied that it did have files but could not release them due to possible interference with an ongoing investigation. This would seem to contradict earlier claims by researchers that Carrier IQ isn't logging data.

Submission + - Five Years On, Containers Gain Favor in Enterprise (datacenterknowledge.com)

1sockchuck writes: It's been nearly five years since Sun introduced its Blackbox, the first commercial data center container. After several years with few visible deployments, the data-center-in-a-box movement has caught on. Case in point: the adoption of modular designs by financial institutions, including a 21-container data center park in Denmark. Even Wells Fargo is contemplating the new model, which allows for faster and cheaper deployment of IT infrastructure. Containers are also being used by IT outsourcers and colo providers — as well as Google, Microsoft and Amazon.
The Internet

Submission + - Netflix dominates North American Internet (financialpost.com)

nairnr writes: Accounting for 29.7% of all information downloaded during peak usage hours by North American broadband-connected households in March, Netflix Inc. received the title in the latest Global Internet Phenomena Report released by Sandvine Corp. on Tuesday.

In its ninth such report, Waterloo, Ont.-based Sandvine found the amount of data consumed by users streaming television shows and movie from Netflix’s online service exceeded even that of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing technology BitTorrent.

IT

Submission + - A Decade of Agile Programming: Has It Delivered? (infoworld.com)

snydeq writes: "InfoWorld offers a look back at the first decade of agile programming. Forged in February 2001 when a group of developers convened in Utah to find an alternative to documentation-driven, 'heavyweight' software development practices, The Manifesto for Agile Software Development sought to promote processes that accommodate changing requirements, collaboration with customers, and delivery of software in short iterations. Fast-forward a decade, and agile software development is becoming increasingly commonplace, with software firms adopting agile offshoots such as Scrum, Extreme Programming, and Kanban — a trend some see benefiting software development overall."

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