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Submission + - Microsoft Research's DeepCoder AI may put programmers out of a job

jmcbain writes: Are you a software programmer who voted in a recent Slashdot poll that a robot/AI would never take your job? Unfortunately, you're wrong. Microsoft, in collaboration with the University of Cambridge, is developing such an AI. This software "can turn your descriptions into working code in seconds. Called DeepCoder, the software can take requirements by the developer, search through a massive database of code snippets and deliver working code in seconds, a significant advance in the state of the art in program synthesis." Another article describes program synthesis as "creating new programs by piecing together lines of code taken from existing software — just like a programmer might. Given a list of inputs and outputs for each code fragment, DeepCoder learned which pieces of code were needed to achieve the desired result overall." The original research paper can be read online.

Submission + - Unstoppable JavaScript Attack Helps Ad Fraud, Tech Support Scams, 0-Day Attacks (bleepingcomputer.com)

An anonymous reader writes: New research published today shows how a malicious website owner could show a constant stream of popups, even after the user has left his site, or even worse, execute any kind of persistent JavaScript code while the user is on other domains.

In an interview, the researcher who found these flaws explains that this flaw is an attacker's dream, as it could be used for: ad fraud (by continuing to load ads even when the user is navigating other sites), zero-day attacks (by downloading exploit code even after the user has left the page), tech support scams (by showing errors and popups on legitimate and reputable sites), and malvertising (by redirecting users later on, from other sites, even if they leave the malicious site too quickly).

This severe flaw in the browser security model affects only Internet Explorer 11, which unfortunately is the second most used browser version, after Chrome 55, with a market share of over 10%. Even worse for IE11 users, there's no fix available for this issue because the researcher has decided to stop reporting bugs to Microsoft after they've ignored many of his previous reports.

For IE11 users, a demo page is available here.

Submission + - SPAM: Gitlab post-mortem: Proper naming convention prevents mistakes

AmiMoJo writes: Gitlab's very public meltdown has been mostly recovered now. If there is one thing we can learn from this incident, it's the importance of proper naming conventions. The person responsible for the mistake intended to operate on "db2.cluster.gitlab.com", but accidentally wiped "db1.cluster.gitlab.com" instead.

What naming conventions do Slashdot readers use and have you experienced any similar failures?

Submission + - Startup Gamalon gives AI bots a head start without Google-level resources. (bloomberg.com)

tmarkovich writes: Gamalon machine intelligence has developed a Bayesian Program Synthesis (BPS) system to succinctly express probabilistic models for use in machine learning. The BPS system allows the user to bypass the need for significant amounts of training data when the user has domain specific knowledge, thereby making machine intelligence more available to users without terabytes of cleaned, labeled, data points.

Submission + - The Munich Linux Project is to be cancelled and rolled back

Qbertino writes: Apparently , as German IT News Website Heise.de reports, LiMux, the prestigious FOSS project of replacing the entire cities administration IT with FOSS based systems is about to be cancelled and decommissioned.

A paper set up by a board of city officials wants to reorganise the cities IT to "commonly used software" and a base client of the cities software running on MS Windows that integrates well with the cities ERP system based on SAP. The best possible integration of office software products with SAP is the goal, which looks like LibreOffice will be ruled out. The OS independence of the system is stated as a goal, but is seen by the article as more of a token gesture than a true strategy. The costs of remigration back to non-FOSS systems aren't mentioned.

Currently roughly 15 000 Systems in Munich are running on FOSS, 5000 on Windows. The city concil will make the final decision on this next week. Oppositional parties like the Greens and the Pirates call the move a huge leap backwards to the Quasi-Monopoly of Microsoft Windows and a waste of resources.

Submission + - NASA Plans to Drill Into Europa's Crust In Search of Life (gizmodo.com)

An anonymous reader writes: NASA Plans to Drill Into Europa's Crust In Search of Life

Rae Paoletta
Yesterday 6:25pm
Filed to: EUROPA
17.0K
9

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Since early 2016, a NASA-employed Science Definition Team (SDT) of 21 researchers has been crafting a plan to send a robotic probe to Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter, located over 390 million miles from Earth. On February 7th, that team delivered their first report to NASA, detailing their recommendations for that future mission, which will search for life by drilling toward the subterranean ocean scientists strongly suspect to exist beneath the icy moonâ(TM)s surface. The team hopes to launch as soon as 2031.

Submission + - Prosthetic Arm Control Improved Using Spinal Nerve Signals

CanadianRealist writes: Current prosthetic arms are usually controlled by detecting signals from the user twitching muscles in the shoulder or arm. This allows only a limited number of possible movements, such as grasp and release. Researchers have developed a new technique that interprets signals from motor neurons in the spinal cord, allowing for a greater range of control of an arm. Signals from nerves associated with hand and arm movements were mapped to the corresponding movements. Test subjects were able to move a virtual prosthetic arm with greater freedom than has been achieved with muscle-controlled prosthetics. (A virtual prosthetic arm was used rather than a real one as this work is still in the early stages.)

Submission + - Virtual Reality Kills 22,000 Arcades In China (allyoucanarcade.com)

All You Can Arcade writes: VR is looking less like a boom and more like a bust in Asia. Over the last 12 months, it's estimated that there have been 35,000 VR arcades that have opened up in China. A year later 22,000 of them have already closed. As arcade operators are taking on debt to invest in the latest fad, it appears that it's turning around and killing their businesses. The problem . . . people simply aren't willing to pay cinema and bowling alley prices, to play in public. With the VR industry pushing the hard sale on North American operators right now, we could see even more arcades closing down, if operators can't recoup their investments.

Submission + - Iris Scans And Fingerprints Could Be Your Ticket On British Rail

Mickeycaskill writes: Rail passengers could use fingerprints or iris scans to pay for tickets and pass through gates, under plans announced by the UK rail industry.

In its current form the mobile technology is intended to allow passengers to travel without tickets, instead using Bluetooth and geolocation technology to track a passenger’s movements and automatically charge their travel account at the end of the day for journeys taken.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators and Network Rail, said further development could see passengers identified using biometric technology in a way similar to the facial-recognition schemes used at some UK airports to speed up border checks.

Submission + - Earthworks resembling Stonehenge found in Amazon rainforest. (telegraph.co.uk)

turkeydance writes: Hundreds of ancient earthworks resembling those at Stonehenge were built in the Amazon rainforest, scientists have discovered after flying drones over the area.

The findings prove for the first time that prehistoric settlers in Brazil cleared large wooded areas to create huge enclosures meaning that the 'pristine' rainforest celebrated by ecologists is actually relatively new.

Submission + - Hackers break into Polish banks through government regulator charged with bank s (cyberscoop.com)

Patrick O'Neill writes: Polish banks are scrambling to figure out just how bad they've been hit in a cyberattack described as "likely the most serious incident in the history of Polish banking industry." The first victim and the vector through which the rest got hit was the Polish financial regulator KNF, which is responsible for enforcing security standards in the banking industry.

Submission + - Let a Robot Carry Your Stuff

R3d M3rcury writes: Have you always wanted a lackey who will follow you around and carry your stuff? Well, Piaggio Fast Forward (PFF) may have the next best thing: Gita, a cargo-carrying robot. From TechCrunch:

It can follow a person, or roll autonomously in an environment it has already mapped. At 26 inches tall, the Gita can carry up to 40 pounds at a time and has a maximum speed of 22 miles per hour, so it can keep up with a person on foot or riding a bike. It can run for about 8 hours of continuous use, the company said.

In the next six months, Piaggio Fast Forward plans to run pilot tests with Gita on different college campuses and in towns in the U.S. The company is not thinking about delivering burritos or groceries, so much. It envisions the Gita assisting maintenance, gardening and custodial workers, and others who must cart heavy things around to get their jobs done on a given day, especially at resorts, senior living and school campuses.

So if you're in the Boston area for the next six months, keep an eye out for one of these.

Submission + - Scientists Finally Turn Hydrogen Into a Metal, Ending a 80-Year Quest (arstechnica.com)

An anonymous reader writes: In 1935, scientists predicted that the simplest element, hydrogen, could also become metallic under pressure, and they calculated that it would take 25 GigaPascals to force this transition (each Gigapascal is about 10,000 atmospheres of pressure). That estimate, in the words of the people who have finally made metallic hydrogen, "was way off." It took until last year for us to reach pressures where the normal form of hydrogen started breaking down into individual atoms—at 380 GigaPascals. Now, a pair of Harvard researchers has upped the pressure quite a bit more, and they have finally made hydrogen into a metal. All of these high-pressure studies rely on what are called diamond anvils. This hardware places small samples between two diamonds, which are hard enough to stand up to extreme pressure. As the diamonds are forced together, the pressure keeps going up. Current calculations suggested that metallic hydrogen might require just a slight boost in pressure from the earlier work, at pressures as low as 400 GigaPascals. But the researchers behind the new work, Ranga Dias and Isaac Silvera, discovered it needed quite a bit more than that. In making that discovery, they also came to a separate realization: normal diamonds weren't up to the task. "Diamond failure," they note, "is the principal limitation for achieving the required pressures to observe SMH," where SMH means "solid metallic hydrogen" rather than "shaking my head." The team came up with some ideas about what might be causing the diamonds to fail and corrected them. One possibility was surface defects, so they etched all diamonds down by five microns to eliminate these. Another problem may be that hydrogen under pressure could be forced into the diamond itself, weakening it. So they cooled the hydrogen to slow diffusion and added material to the anvil that absorbed free hydrogen. Shining lasers through the diamond seemed to trigger failures, so they switched to other sources of light to probe the sample. After loading the sample and cranking up the pressure (literally—they turned a handcrank), they witnessed hydrogen's breakdown at high pressure, which converted it from a clear sample to a black substance, as had been described previously. But then, somewhere between 465 and 495 GigaPascals, the sample turned reflective, a key feature of metals

Submission + - US Government Employees Banned from Sharing Publicly Funded Science (popsci.com) 1

Layzej writes: Popular Science reports that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now barred from communicating with the public and The US Department of Agriculture has banned scientists and other employees from sharing the results of its taxpayer-funded research with the broader public.
The memo outlining these new rules has not been made public, but the ban reportedly includes everything from summaries of scientific papers to USDA-branded tweets. Scientists are still able to publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals, but they are unable to talk about that research without prior consent from their agency.
This is not the first time that public science has been hamstrung by a gag order. To this day, the quantity of oil spewed into the ocean during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil spill remains something of a mystery. Many of the scientists who worked on the spill were hired by BP and barred from speaking on it. But gag orders—while always troublesome—have usually been limited to one specific issue. Right now, the EPA and USDA have been forbidden to speak about all of their scientific research. It means that many of the kinds of stories we now cover will never see the light of day.

Submission + - U.S. solar industry power generation jobs pass oil, coal and gas combined (computerworld.com)

Lucas123 writes: In 2016, the solar workforce in the U.S. increased by 25% to 374,000 employees, compared to 187,117 electrical generation jobs in the coal, gas and oil industries. Solar employment, which includes both photovoltaic electricity and concentrated solar steam generators, accounts for 43% of the electric power generation workforce — the largest share of workers in that sector. Fossil fuel generation employment now accounts for 22%. In addition to losing ground in employment, net power generation from coal sources declined by 53% between 2006 and September 2016; electricity generation from natural gas increased by 33%; and solar grew by over 5,000% —from 508,000 megawatt hours (MWh) to just over 28 million MWh.

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