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Submission + - France to review food whitener additive, titanium dioxide, for health risks (reuters.com)

Eloking writes: The French government has ordered a review of the safety of titanium dioxide as a food additive after a scientific study released on Friday found health effects in animals that consumed the substance.

Titanium dioxide is widely used in industry as a whitener, notably for paint. It is an ingredient in some foods such as sweets and known as additive E171.

France's National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) and partners in a study on oral exposure to titanium dioxide had shown for the first time that E171 crosses the intestine wall in animals to reach other parts of the body, INRA said.

Submission + - The 32-Bit Dog Ate 16 Million Kids' CS Homework

theodp writes: Tech backed-Code.org explains in a blog post that it encountered technical difficulties Friday that temporarily made the work of 16 million K-12 students who have used the nonprofit's Code Studio offering disappear. Code.org CTO Jeremy Stone gave the kids an impromptu lesson on the powers of two with his explanation of why The Cloud ate their homework: "This morning, at 9:19 am PST, coding progress by students stopped saving on Code Studio, and the issue briefly brought the Code Studio site down. We brought the site back up shortly thereafter but student progress was still not being saved, and instead students saw an outdated message about the Hour of Code from December. [...] The way we store student coding activity is in a table that until today had a 32-bit index. What this means is that the database table could only store 4 billion rows of coding activity information. We didn’t realize we were running up to the limit, and the table got full. We have now made a new student activity table that is storing progress by students. With the new table, we are switching to a 64-bit index which will hold up to 18 quintillion rows of information. On the plus side, this new table will be able to store student coding information for millions of years. On the down side, until we’ve moved everything over to the new table, some students’ code from before today may temporarily not appear, so please be patient with us as we fix it."

Submission + - GMail app update blocking non-GMail servers

ukoda writes: Given the GMail Android app is bundled with most Android phone and has offered support for email accounts with other service providers it has become a popular email client. However sometime in November last year Google updated their app to silently reject self-signed certificates. For users of servers with self-signed certificates their email stopped coming in. Refreshing the inbox appears to go normally with no problems reported. From this support thread it is apparent that server connections are being rejected with the warning "Certificate Not Valid" even when the "All Certificates" option is chosen. The explanation from Google is they are improving security but for some users that had a working secure connection they now have to either stay with GMail, and turn off encryption, or move to a new app such as K9 or BlueMail. The lack of meaningful responses from Google leave little hope of things improving anytime soon.

Submission + - Man doxxes laptop thief by taking control remotely and pilfering her Facebook (ibtimes.co.uk) 1

drunkdrone writes: A Canadian man took matters into his own hands after his laptop was stolen when he logged into it remotely and posted the thief's misdeeds online. Stu Gale, from Cochrane, Alberta, had his computer swiped after leaving it in an unlocked car and days later received a notification informing him that someone had logged onto the device.

The 51-year-old computer security expert tried to access his computer by beginning a remote connection, which allows someone to connect to and take control of a device from another location. To begin with the thief kept closing the pop-up window, but she eventually left the room, unwisely while still logged into her Facebook account.

Submission + - Zuckerberg sues hundreds of Hawaiians to force property sales to him. (msn.com)

mmell writes: Apparently, owning 700 acres of land in Hawaii isn't enough — Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, has filed suit to force owners of several small parcels of land to sell to the highest bidder. The reason? These property owners are completely surrounded by Zuckerberg's land holdings and therefore have lawful easement to cross his property in order to get to theirs.

Many of these land owners have held their land for generations, but seemingly Mr. Zuckerberg can not tolerate their presence so close to his private little slice of paradise. Landowners such as these came to own their land when their ancestors were "given" the land as Hawaiian natives.

If successful in his "quiet title" court action, Mr. Zuckerberg will finally have his slice of Hawaii's beaches and tropical lands without having to deal with the pesky presence of neighbors who were on his land before he owned it. Who knew that Hawaiians were just another kind of Native Americans?

Submission + - Galileo satellites experiencing multiple clock failures (bbc.com)

elgatozorbas writes: According to a BBC article, the onboard atomic clocks that drive the satellite-navigation signals on Europe's Galileo network have been failing at an alarming rate.

Across the 18 satellites now in orbit, nine clocks have stopped operating. Three are traditional rubidium devices; six are the more precise hydrogen maser instruments that were designed to give Galileo superior performance to the American GPS network.

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 + - NYC Spent $69M on Special Ed Software That Cost $75M in Labor Judgments (observer.com)

BradyDale writes: One in seven students in NYC schools are in special education, each of whom has lots of individualized service goals each year to help them achieve an appropriate education. That's tough to keep track of, so in 2008 NYC schools procured services to build software to help track it.
The poorly designed software has made matters worse. So far, it has earned $75M in labor arbitration settlements over time teacher's wasted wrestling with the system outside of school.
Now, the city's public advocate has sued to find out if students get the services the law entitles them to.

Submission + - Squirrel 'Threat' to Critical Infrastructure

randomErr writes: The real threat to global critical infrastructure is not enemy states or organisations but squirrels. Cris Thomas has been tracking power cuts caused by animals since 2013. His Cyber Squirrel 1 project was set up to counteract what he called the "ludicrousness of cyber-war claims by people at high levels in government and industry", he told the audience at the Shmoocon security conference in Washington. Squirrels topped the list with 879 "attacks", followed by birds with 434 attacks and then snakes at 83 attacks.

Submission + - Superbugs now Killing more Americans than Breast Cancer

randomErr writes: Antibiotic-resistant superbugs are now slaying more patients than breast cancer, according to a new statistics by the UK Sepsis Trust. The British Department of Health say about 5,000 people die each year from drug-resistant infections The UK Sepsis Trust looked at the Department of Health’s own data to produce an estimate of 12,000 killed per year by superbugs. That’s more than twice as high as the current estimate.

Submission + - SPAM: It Can Power a Small Nation. But This Wind Farm in China Is Mostly Idle.

schnell writes: The New York Times reports on a massive wind farm in remote Gansu province that boasts more than 7,000 wind turbines but whose capacity goes more than 60% unused. The wind farm epitomizes China's struggles in its efforts to become a world renewable energy leader: the Chinese economy is slumping, leading to decreased energy demand; the country lacks the infrastructure to haul power from remote wind-producing regions to industrial centers; and government policies continue to favor the domestic coal industry. China has 92,000 wind turbines, more than double the US's capacity, but China generates only 3.3% of its electricity from wind compared to 4.7% in the United States.

Submission + - Gambler Phil Ivey Sued For Being Too Good (thefederalist.com) 2

schwit1 writes: “The Borgata alleged that Ivey’s actions, which the casino agreed to in advance, constitute cheating. In fact, they merely constitute a gambler getting a legitimate advantage over the casino. In this age of cozy cooperation between the state and the gaming industry, that’s something that’s just not allowed.”

Submission + - Parents View New Peanut Guidelines With Guilt and Skepticism (nytimes.com) 1

schwit1 writes: When Nicole Lepke’s son was born, she listened to her pediatrician and kept peanuts away until the age of 2, but the toddler still developed a severe peanut allergy when he finally tried them.

Now, 12 years later, health experts have reversed their advice on peanuts, urging parents to begin feeding foods containing peanut powder or extract during infancy in hopes of reducing a child’s risk for allergy.

The about-face on peanuts has stunned parents around the country who are coping with the challenges of severe peanut allergies. Like many parents, Ms. Lepke is now plagued with guilt. By restricting peanuts early, did she inadvertently cause the very allergy she was trying to prevent?

Submission + - Eggs from Skin Cells? Why the Next Fertility Technology Will Open Pandora's Box (technologyreview.com)

schwit1 writes: Imagine you are Brad Pitt. After you stay one night in the Ritz, someone sneaks in and collects some skin cells from your pillow.

But that’s not all. Using a novel fertility technology, your movie star cells are transformed into sperm and used to make a baby. And now someone is suing you for millions in child support.

Such a seemingly bizarre scenario could actually be possible, say three senior medical researchers who today have chosen to alert the public to the social risks of in vitro gametogenesis, a technique they say could allow any type of cell to be reprogrammed into a sperm or egg.

Submission + - Open Source Codec Encodes Voice Into Only 700 Bits Per Second (rowetel.com)

Bruce Perens writes: David Rowe VK5DGR has been working on ultra-low-bandwidth digital voice codecs for years, and his latest quest has been to come up with a digital codec that would compete well with single-sideband modulation used by ham contesters to score the longest-distance communications using HF radio. A new codec records clear, but not hi-fi, voice in 700 bits per second, that's 88 bytes per second. Connected to an already-existing Open Source digital modem, it might beat SSB.

Obviously there are other uses for recording voice at ultra-low-bandwidth. Many smartphones could record your voice for your entire life using their existing storage. A single IP packet could carry 15 seconds of speech. Ultra-low-bandwidth codecs don't help conventional VoIP, though. The payload size for low-latency voice is only a few bytes, and the packet overhead will be at least 10 times that size.

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