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Developers and the Fear of Apple

SlashDot - Wed, 03/25/2015 - 7:15am
An anonymous reader writes: UI designer Eli Schiff has posted an article about the "climate of fear" surrounding Apple in the software development community. He points out how developers who express criticism in an informal setting often recant when their words are being recorded, and how even moderate public criticism is often prefaced by flattery and endorsements. Beyond that, the industry has learned that they can't rely on Apple's walled garden to make a profit. The opaque app review process, the race to the bottom on pricing, and Apple's resistance to curation of the App Store are driving "independent app developers into larger organizations and venture-backed startups." Apple is also known to cut contact with developers if they release for Android first. The "climate of fear" even affects journalists, who face not only stonewalling from Apple after negative reporting, but also a brigade of Apple fans and even other journalists trying to paint them as anti-Apple.

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Uber To Turn Into a Big Data Company By Selling Location Data

SlashDot - Wed, 03/25/2015 - 4:12am
Presto Vivace sends news that Uber has entered into a partnership with Starwood Hotels that hooks accounts from both companies together. If you're a customer of both, you'll get a small benefit when chartering Uber rides, but the cost is that Uber will share all their data on you with Starwood. The article says, This year, we are going to see the transformation of Uber into a big data company cut from the same cloth as Google, Facebook and Visa – using the wealth of information they know about me and you to deliver new services and generate revenue by selling this data to others. ... Uber can run the same program with airlines, restaurants, nightclubs, bars – every time you go from point A to point B in an Uber, “A”, “B” or both represent a new potential consumer of your data. ... Uber knows the hot nightclubs, best restaurants and most obviously now has as much data about traffic patterns as Waze (which coincidentally trades data with local governments). Combining Uber’s data with the very-personal data that customers are willing to give up in exchange for benefits, means that Uber can, and is, on its way to becoming a Big Data company.

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Short Circuit In LHC Could Delay Restart By Weeks

SlashDot - Wed, 03/25/2015 - 2:44am
hypnosec writes: On March 21 CERN detected an intermittent short circuit to ground in one of the LHC's magnet circuits. Repairs could delay the restart by anywhere between a few days and several weeks. CERN revealed that the short circuit affected one of LHC's powerful electromagnets, thereby delaying preparations in sector 4-5 of the machine. They confirmed that seven of the machine's eight sectors have been successfully commissioned to 6.5 TeV per beam, but they won't be circulating a beam in the LHC this week. Though the short circuit issue is well understood, resolving it will take time, since it's in a cold section of the machine and repairs may therefore require warming and re-cooling.

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Stanford Breakthrough Could Make Better Chips Cheaper

SlashDot - Wed, 03/25/2015 - 1:15am
angry tapir writes: Researchers at Stanford University have come up with a new way to make chips and solar panels using gallium arsenide, a semiconductor that beats silicon in several important areas but is typically too expensive for widespread use. "[I]t can cost about $5,000 to make a wafer of gallium arsenide 8 inches in diameter, versus $5 for a silicon wafer, according to Aneesh Nainani, who teaches semiconductor manufacturing at Stanford. The new Stanford process (abstract) seeks to lessen this thousand-to-one cost differential by reusing that $5,000 wafer. Today the working electronic circuits in a gallium arsenide device are grown on top of this wafer. Manufacturers make this circuitry layer by flowing gaseous gallium arsenide and other materials across the wafer surface. This material condenses into thin layer of circuitry atop the wafer. In this scenario, the wafer is only a backing. The thin layer of circuitry on top of this costly platter contains all of the electronics."

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Indian Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Against Posting 'Offensive' Content Online

SlashDot - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 11:19pm
palemantle writes: The Indian Supreme Court has overturned the controversial Section 66A of the IT Act which included a provision for a three-year jail term for sending "offensive" messages through a "computer resource or a communication device." In its judgement, the Supreme Court held "liberty of thought and expression as cardinal" and overturned the provision (66A) deeming it "unconstitutional." It's been in the news recently for an incident involving the arrest of a high school student for posting allegedly "offensive" content on Facebook about a local politician.

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Draconian Australian Research Law Hits Scientists

SlashDot - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 10:09pm
An anonymous reader writes: The Australian government is pushing ahead with a draconian law placing "dual use" science (e.g. encryption, biotechnology) under the control of the Department of Defence. The Australian ACLU, Civil Liberties Australia, warns the law punishes scientists with $400,000 fines, 10 years in jail and forfeiture of their work, just for sending an "inappropriate" e-mail. Scientists — including the academics union — warn the laws are unworkable despite attempted improvements, and will drive researchers offshore (paywalled: mirror here).

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Flash-Based Vulnerability Lingers On Many Websites, Three Years Later

SlashDot - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 9:25pm
itwbennett writes: The vulnerability known as CVE-2011-2461 was unusual because fixing it didn't just require the Adobe Flex Software Development Kit (SDK) to be updated, but also patching all the individual Flash applications (SWF files) that had been created with vulnerable versions of the SDK. The company released a tool that allowed developers to easily fix existing SWF files, but many of them didn't. Last year, Web application security engineers Luca Carettoni from LinkedIn and Mauro Gentile from Minded Security came across the old flaw while investigating Flash-based techniques for bypassing the Same-Origin Policy (SOP) mechanism found in browsers. They found SWF files that were still vulnerable on Google, Yahoo, Salesforce, Adobe, Yandex, Qiwi and many other sites. After notifying the affected websites, they presented their findings last week at the Troopers 2015 security conference in Germany.

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GNU Nano Gets New Stable Release

SlashDot - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 8:01pm
jones_supa writes: GNU Nano 2.4.0 has been released as the first stable update to this UNIX command line text editor in a number of years. The release codenamed "Lizf" brings a wide variety of changes: full undo system, Vim-compatible file locking, linter support, formatter support, flexible syntax highlighting, and random bugfixes.

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Public Records Request Returns 4.6M License Plate Scans From Oakland PD

SlashDot - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 7:17pm
schwit1 points out a report from Ars Technica on how they used a public records request to acquire an entire License Plate Reader dataset from the Oakland Police Department. The dataset includes 4.6 million total reads from 1.1 million unique plates. They built a custom visualization tool to demonstrate how this data could be abused. "For instance, during a meeting with an Oakland city council member, Ars was able to accurately guess the block where the council member lives after less than a minute of research using his license plate data. Similarly, while "working" at an Oakland bar mere blocks from Oakland police headquarters, we ran a plate from a car parked in the bar's driveway through our tool. The plate had been read 48 times over two years in two small clusters: one near the bar and a much larger cluster 24 blocks north in a residential area—likely the driver's home." Though the Oakland PD has periodically deleted data to free up space — the 4.6 million records were strewn across 18 different Excel spreadsheets with hundreds of thousands of lines each — there is no formal retention limit.

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Australian Company Creates Even Faster 3D Printer

SlashDot - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 6:34pm
ErnieKey writes: One of the major reasons 3D printing hasn't really caught on is because it's an incredibly slow process. Just last week a company called Carbon3D unveiled a super fast new 3D printing process that utilizes oxygen and light. Now, another company — Gizmo 3D — has unveiled an even faster 3D printing process which is claimed to be more reliable than the process presented by Carbon3D. It can print 30mm in height at a 50 micron resolution in just 6 minutes.

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Ford's New Car Tech Prevents You From Accidentally Speeding

SlashDot - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 5:52pm
An anonymous reader sends word of Ford's new "Intelligent Speed Limiter" technology, which they say will prevent drivers from unintentionally exceeding the speed limit. When the system is activated (voluntarily) by the driver, it asks for a current maximum speed. From then on, a camera mounted on the windshield will scan the road ahead for speed signs, and automatically adjust the maximum speed to match them. The system can also pull speed limit data from navigation systems. When the system detects the car exceeding the speed limit, it won't automatically apply the brakes — rather, it will deliver less fuel to the engine until the vehicle's speed drops below the limit. If the speed still doesn't drop, a warning noise will sound. The driver can override the speed limit by pressing "firmly" on the accelerator. The technology is being launched in Europe with the Ford S-MAX.

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Feds Attempt To Censor Parts of a New Book About the Hydrogen Bomb

SlashDot - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 5:10pm
HughPickens.com writes: The atom bomb — leveler of Hiroshima and instant killer of some 80,000 people — is just a pale cousin compared to the hydrogen bomb, which easily packs the punch of a thousand Hiroshimas. That is why Washington has for decades done everything in its power to keep the details of its design out of the public domain. Now William J. Broad reports in the NY Times that Kenneth W. Ford has defied a federal order to cut material from his new book that the government says teems with thermonuclear secrets. Ford says he included the disputed material because it had already been disclosed elsewhere and helped him paint a fuller picture of an important chapter of American history. But after he volunteered the manuscript for a security review, federal officials told him to remove about 10 percent of the text, or roughly 5,000 words. "They wanted to eviscerate the book," says Ford. "My first thought was, 'This is so ridiculous I won't even respond.'" For instance, the federal agency wanted him to strike a reference to the size of the first hydrogen test device — its base was seven feet wide and 20 feet high. Dr. Ford responded that public photographs of the device, with men, jeeps and a forklift nearby, gave a scale of comparison that clearly revealed its overall dimensions. Though difficult to make, hydrogen bombs are attractive to nations and militaries because their fuel is relatively cheap. Inside a thick metal casing, the weapon relies on a small atom bomb that works like a match to ignite the hydrogen fuel. Today, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States are the only declared members of the thermonuclear club, each possessing hundreds or thousands of hydrogen bombs. Military experts suspect that Israel has dozens of hydrogen bombs. India, Pakistan and North Korea are seen as interested in acquiring the potent weapon. The big secret the book discusses is thermal equilibrium, the discovery that the temperature of the hydrogen fuel and the radiation could match each other during the explosion (PDF). World Scientific, a publisher in Singapore, recently made Dr. Ford's book public in electronic form, with print versions to follow. Ford remains convinced the book "contains nothing whatsoever whose dissemination could, by any stretch of the imagination, damage the United States or help a country that is trying to build a hydrogen bomb." "Were I to follow all — or even most — of your suggestions," says Ford, "it would destroy the book."

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MuseScore 2.0 Released

SlashDot - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 4:27pm
rDouglass writes: MuseScore, the open source desktop application for music notation, has released version 2.0 for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. This release represents the culmination of four years of development, including technical contributions from over 400 people. In addition to a completely new UI, top features include linked parts (good for pieces with many instruments), guitar tablature, flexible chord symbols, and fret diagrams. The program integrates directly with the MuseScore.com online library of scores, and music written with the application can be displayed and played using the MuseScore mobile app.

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Jupiter Destroyed 'Super-Earths' In Our Early Solar System

SlashDot - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 3:45pm
sciencehabit writes: If Jupiter and Saturn hadn't formed where they did—and at the sizes they did—as the disk of dust and gas around our sun coalesced, then our solar system would be a very different and possibly more hostile place, new research suggests (abstract). Computer models reveal that in the solar system's first 3 million years or so, gravitational interactions with Jupiter, Saturn, and the gas in the protoplanetary disk would have driven super-Earth–sized planets closer to the sun and into increasingly elliptical orbits. In such paths, a cascade of collisions would have blasted any orbs present there into ever smaller bits, which in turn would have been slowed by the interplanetary equivalent of atmospheric drag and eventually plunged into the sun. As Jupiter retreated from its closest approach to the sun, it left behind the mostly rocky remnants that later coalesced into our solar system's inner planets, including Earth.

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Better Disaster Shelters than FEMA Trailers (Video)

SlashDot - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 3:04pm
An aerospace engineer and Mississippi native named Michael McDaniel "watched helplessly as Hurricane Katrina forced thousands of people out of their homes and into crowded, poorly equipped 'shelters.'" This scenario led to Michael founding Reaction Housing and the creation of its first product, the Exo (as in exoskeleton) shelter. This company isn't holding its hand out for crowdfunding. It got $1.5 million in seed capital in March, 2014, later got another $10 million, and is now going into mass production of its Exo housing units. Reaction Housing is not the only attempt to make post-disaster housing better, or at least less expensive, than the infamous FEMA trailers. A charity called ShelterBox in Lakewood Ranch, FL, fills boxes with everything a family or group of up to 10 people needs, including a heavy-duty tent, bedding, and kitchen supplies, in order to survive after a natural disaster. (Here's an interview video I shot in 2010 about ShelterBox.) Exo, ShelterBox or any one of dozens of other emergency housing alternatives are good to have around, ready to go, for the next Katrina, Sandy or Tsunami. High tech? Not necessarily, but technology has obviously made emergency housing faster and easier to erect than the "earthquake shacks" that were built in San Francisco to house people made homeless by the 1906 earthquake.

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Energy Company Trials Computer Servers To Heat Homes

SlashDot - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 2:18pm
New submitter MarcAuslander sends this Associated Press report: Eneco, a Dutch-based energy company with more than 2 million customers, said Tuesday it is installing 'e-Radiators' — computer servers that generate heat while crunching numbers — in five homes across the Netherlands in a trial to see if their warmth could be a commercially viable alternative for traditional radiators. The technology is the brainchild of the Dutch startup company Nerdalize, whose founders claim to have developed the idea after huddling near a laptop to keep warm after their home's thermostat broke and jokingly suggesting buying 100 laptops. Nerdalize says its e-Radiators offer companies or research institutes a cheaper alternative to housing servers in data centers. And because Nerdalize foots the power bill for the radiators, Eneco customers get the warmth they generate for free. The companies said the environment wins, too, because energy is effectively used twice in the new system - to power the servers and to heat rooms.

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The X-Files To Return

SlashDot - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 1:36pm
An anonymous reader writes: Fox announced today that The X-Files will return with six new episodes. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson will both reprise their roles as Mulder and Scully, respectively, and show creator Chris Carter will return as well. Production begins this summer, but air dates are not yet known. The X-Files originally started in 1993 and ran for 9 seasons, spawning two feature films and a short-lived spinoff called The Lone Gunmen. It won 16 Emmy awards and 5 Golden Globe awards before critical reception soured over the last few seasons. Carter said, "I think of it as a 13-year commercial break. The good news is the world has only gotten that much stranger, a perfect time to tell these six stories."

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Chinese CA Issues Certificates To Impersonate Google

SlashDot - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 12:54pm
Trailrunner7 writes: Google security engineers, investigating fraudulent certificates issued for several of the company's domains, discovered that a Chinese certificate authority was using an intermediate CA, MCS Holdings, that issued the unauthorized Google certificates, and could have issued certificates for virtually any domain. Google's engineers were able to block the fraudulent certificates in the company's Chrome browser by pushing an update to the CRLset, which tracks revoked certificates. The company also alerted other browser vendors to the problem, which was discovered on March 20. Google contacted officials at CNNIC, the Chinese registrar who authorized the intermediate CA, and the officials said that they were working with MCS to issue certificates for domains that it registered. But, instead of simply doing that, and storing the private key for the registrar in a hardware security module, MCS put the key in a proxy device designed to intercept secure traffic.

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Ask Slashdot: What Happened To Semantic Publishing?

SlashDot - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 12:11pm
An anonymous reader writes There has always been a demand for semantically enriched content, even long before the digital era. Take a look at the New York Times Index, which has been continuously published since 1913. Nowadays, technology can meet the high demands for "clever" content, and big publishers like the BBC and the NY Times are opening their data and also making a good use of it. In this post, the author argues that Semantic Publishing is the future and talks about articles enriched with relevant facts and infoboxes with related content. Yet his example dates back to 2010, and today arguably every news website suggests related articles and provides links to external sources. This raises several questions: Why is there not much noise on this topic lately? Does this mean that we are already in the future of Online (Semantic) Publishing? Do we have all the tools now (e.g. Linked Data, fast NoSQL/Graph/RDF datastores, etc.) and what remains to be done is simply refinement and evolution? What is the difference in "cleverness" of content from different providers?

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A Bechdel Test For Programmers?

SlashDot - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 11:29am
Nerval's Lobster writes In order for a movie or television show to pass the Bechdel Test (named after cartoonist and MacArthur genius Alison Bechdel), it must feature two female characters, have those two characters talk to one another, and have those characters talk to one another about something other than a man. A lot of movies and shows don't pass. How would programming culture fare if subjected to a similar test? One tech firm, 18F, decided to find out after seeing a tweet from Laurie Voss, CTO of npm, which explained the parameters of a modified Bechdel Test. According to Voss, a project that passes the test must feature at least one function written by a woman developer, that calls a function written by another woman developer. 'The conversation started with us quickly listing the projects that passed the Bechdel coding test, but then shifted after one of our devs then raised a good point,' read 18F's blog posting on the experiment. 'She said some of our projects had lots of female devs, but did not pass the test as defined.' For example, some custom languages don't have functions, which means a project built using those languages would fail even if written by women. Nonetheless, both startups and larger companies could find the modified Bechdel Test a useful tool for opening up a discussion about gender balance within engineering and development teams.

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