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Apple's Spotty Record of Giving Back To the Tech Industry

Sun, 13/04/2014 - 15:34
chicksdaddy (814965) writes "Given Apple's status as the world's most valuable company and its enormous cash hoard, the refusal to offer even meager support to open source and industry groups is puzzling. From the article: 'Apple bundles software from the Apache Software Foundation with its OS X operating system, but does not financially support the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) in any way. That is in contrast to Google and Microsoft, Apple's two chief competitors, which are both Platinum sponsors of ASF — signifying a contribution of $100,000 annually to the Foundation. Sponsorships range as low as $5,000 a year (Bronze), said Sally Khudairi, ASF's Director of Marketing and Public Relations. The ASF is vendor-neutral and all code contributions to the Foundation are done on an individual basis. Apple employees are frequent, individual contributors to Apache. However, their employer is not, Khudairi noted. The company has been a sponsor of ApacheCon, a for-profit conference that runs separately from the Foundation — but not in the last 10 years. "We were told they didn't have the budget," she said of efforts to get Apple's support for ApacheCon in 2004, a year in which the company reported net income of $276 million on revenue of $8.28 billion.'"

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The Case For a Safer Smartphone

Sun, 13/04/2014 - 04:12
itwbennett writes: "According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, people who text and drive increase their chances of 'safety-critical events' by a multiple of 23.2. And new research is constantly rolling out, showing the same thing: 'We can't handle the visual, manual, and cognitive commitment of using a phone while driving,' writes blogger Kevin Purdy. What's needed, Purdy suggests, isn't more laws that will go ignored, but phones that know enough to stop giving us the distractions we ask them for: 'I think the next good phone, the next phone that makes some variant of the claim that it "Fits the way you live," needs to know that we don't know what is good for us when it comes to driving. We want to be entertained and shown new things while doing the often mundane or stressful task of driving. More specifically, those phones should know when we are driving, quiet or otherwise obscure updates from most apps, and be able to offer their most basic functions without needing to turn on a screen or type a single letter.'"

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PC Gaming Alive and Dominant

Sun, 13/04/2014 - 01:01
An anonymous reader writes "Ars reports on a panel at PAX East which delved into the strength of the PC as a platform for games, and what its future looks like. The outlook is positive: 'Even as major computer OEMs produce numbers showing falling sales, the PC as a platform (and especially a gaming platform) actually shows strong aggregate growth.' The panelists said that while consoles get a lot of the headlines, the PC platform remains the only and/or best option for a lot of developers and gamers. They briefly addressed piracy, as well: 'Piracy, [Matt Higby] said, is an availability and distribution problem. The more games are crowdfunded and digitally delivered and the less a "store" figures into buying games, the less of a problem piracy becomes. [Chris Roberts] was quick to agree, and he noted that the shift to digital distribution also helps the developers make more money — they ostensibly don't have everyone along the way from retailers to publishers to distributors taking their cut from the sale.'"

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Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

Sat, 12/04/2014 - 23:58
An anonymous reader writes: "Young people, when choosing a profession, are often told to 'do what you love.' That's why we have experts in such abstruse fields as medieval gymel. But let's talk hypotheticals: if there's a worldwide catastrophe in which civilization is interrupted, somebody specializing in gymel wouldn't provide much use to fellow survivors. In a post-apocalypse world, medical doctors would be useful, as would most scientists and engineers. The bad news for Slashdotters is that decades without computers would render computer science and related professions useless. What do you consider to be the most useful and mostly useless post-apocalypse professions? How long would it take for society to rebuild enough for your profession to be useful?"

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The Comcast/TWC Merger Is About Controlling Information

Sat, 12/04/2014 - 22:51
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from The Consumerist: "Comcast and proposed merger partner Time Warner Cable claim they don't compete because their service areas don't overlap, and that a combined company would happily divest itself of a few million customers to keeps its pay-TV market share below 30%, allowing other companies that don't currently compete with Comcast to keep not competing with Comcast. This narrow, shortsighted view fails to take into account the full breadth of what's involved in this merger — broadcast TV, cable TV, network technology, in-home technology, access to the Internet, and much more. In addition to asking whether or not regulators should permit Comcast to add 10-12 million customers, there is a more important question at the core of this deal: Should Comcast be allowed to control both what content you consume and how you get to consume it?"

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Linux 3.15 Will Suspend & Resume Much Faster

Sat, 12/04/2014 - 21:48
An anonymous reader writes "The Linux 3.15 kernel now in its early life will be able to suspend and resume much faster than previous versions of the Linux kernel. A few days ago we saw ACPI and Power Management updates that enable asynchronous threads for more suspend and resume callbacks. Carrying out more async operations leads to reduced time for the system suspend and then resuming. According to one developer, it was about an 80% time savings within one of the phases. On Friday, work was merged that ensured the kernel is no longer blocked by waiting for ATA devices to resume. Multiple ATA devices can be woken up simultaneously, and any ATA commands for the device(s) will be queued until they have powered up. According to an 01.org blog post on the ATA/SCSI resume optimization patches, when tested on three Intel Linux systems the resume time was between 7x and 12x faster (not including the latest ACPI/PM S&R optimizations)."

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IRS Misses XP Deadline, Pays Microsoft Millions For Patches

Sat, 12/04/2014 - 20:43
An anonymous reader writes "When Microsoft terminated official support for Windows XP on April 8th, many organizations had taken the six years of warnings to heart and migrated to another operating system. But not the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Only 52,000 of their 110,000 Windows-powered computers have been upgraded to Windows 7. They'll now be forced to pay Microsoft for Custom Support. How much? Using Microsoft's standard rate of $200 per PC, it'll be $11.6 million for one year. That leaves $18.4 million of their $30 million budget to finish the upgrades themselves, which works out to $317 per computer."

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Can Web-Based Protests Be a Force for Change?

Sat, 12/04/2014 - 19:40
Lucas123 writes: "Several high profile protests have circulated across the Web in the past few weeks, garnering social and news media attention — and even forcing the resignation of one high-level executive. There are two components driving the trend in Internet protests: They tend to be effective against Web services, and online networks allow people to mobilize quickly. According to a study released last month by Georgetown University's Center for Social Impact Communication, active Web useres are likely to do far more for a cause than simply 'like' it on a website. And, because a few clicks can cancel a service, their actions carry weight. But there may be a coming backlash as people can grow tired of online activism; and corporations may also take a more proactive stance in response to them."

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FAA Shuts Down Search-and-Rescue Drones

Sat, 12/04/2014 - 18:36
An anonymous reader writes "For about a decade, Gene Robinson has been putting cameras on remote-controlled model aircraft and using them in search-and-rescue missions. But now the Federal Aviation Administration has shut him down, saying his efforts violate a ban on flying RC aircraft for commercial purposes. Robinson doesn't charge the families of the people he's looking for, and he created a non-profit organization to demonstrate that. He also coordinates with local authorities and follows their guidelines to the letter. The FAA shut him down because they haven't designed regulations to deal with situations like this, even though they've been working on it since 2007. 'So it's difficult to argue that his flights are more dangerous than what goes on every weekend at RC modeling sites throughout the United States, which can include flights of huge models that weigh 10 times as much as Robinson's planes; aerial stunts of nitromethane-fueled model helicopters; and the low-altitude, 500-kilometer-per-hour passes in front of spectators of model jets powered by miniature turbine engines.'"

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Civilization: Beyond Earth</em> Announced

Sat, 12/04/2014 - 17:24
An anonymous reader writes "Today at PAX East, Firaxis announced Civilization: Beyond Earth. It's a new Civ game inspired by their sci-fi strategy classic Alpha Centauri. Beyond Earth is currently planned to launch this year on the PC. According to Game Informer: 'Beyond Earth presents an opportunity for Firaxis to throw off the shackles of human history and give players the chance to sculpt their own destinies. Civilization games typically have a set endpoint at humanities modern age, but Beyond Earth has given Firaxis the opportunity and the challenge of creating a greater sense of freedom. ... The five different victory conditions that represent that next major event in human history are tied to the new technology web. At the start of the game, players will choose leaders and factions (no longer bundled with one another) and choose colonists and equipment to settle the land. Once descending from orbit, the technology web allows players to move in a number of directions.'"

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Racing To Contain Ebola

Sat, 12/04/2014 - 15:35
An anonymous reader writes "Ebola, one of the most deadly diseases known to humans, started killing people in Guinea a few months ago. There have been Ebola outbreaks in the past, but they were contained. The latest outbreak has now killed over 100 people across three countries. One of the biggest difficulties in containing an outbreak is knowing where the virus originated and how it spread. That problem is being addressed right now by experts and a host of volunteers using Open Street Map. 'Zoom in and you can see road networks and important linkages between towns and countries, where there were none before. Overlay this with victim data, and it can help explain the rapid spread. Click on the colored blobs and you will see sites of confirmed deaths, suspected cases that have been overturned, sites where Ebola testing labs have been setup or where the emergency relief teams are currently located.'"

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Amazon Reportedly Launching Smartphone This Year

Sat, 12/04/2014 - 14:34
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is working on a smartphone for release in the second half of the year. They're currently aiming to announce it by July and launch the end of September. One of the differentiating features of the phone is its capability to display 3-D images. "..the phone would employ retina-tracking technology embedded in four front-facing cameras, or sensors, to make some images appear to be 3-D, similar to a hologram." However, it may not be just a gimmick for 3-D movies and TV shows: "Sources tell Re/code that one advantage of this display will supposedly be that the phone can be moved from right to left to navigate, so a user can interact with the interface with only one hand." The report's sources say Amazon has been demonstrating the phone for developers in San Francisco and Seattle, but they're likely to have difficulty luring developers away from established platforms.

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Commenters To Dropbox CEO: Houston, We Have a Problem

Sat, 12/04/2014 - 13:28
theodp (442580) writes "On Friday, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston sought to quell the uproar over the appointment of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the company's board of directors, promising in a blog post that Rice's appointment won't change its stance on privacy. More interesting than Houston's brief blog post on the method-behind-its-Condi-madness (which Dave Winer perhaps better explained a day earlier) is the firestorm in the ever-growing hundreds of comments that follow. So will Dropbox be swayed by the anti-Condi crowd ("If you do not eliminate Rice from your board you lose my business") or stand its ground, heartened by pro-Condi comments ("Good on ya, DB. You have my continued business and even greater admiration")? One imagines that Bush White House experience has left Condi pretty thick-skinned, and IPO riches are presumably on the horizon, but is falling on her "resignation sword" — a la Brendan Eich — out of the question for Condi?"

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Chinese Man On Trial For Spreading False Rumors Online

Fri, 11/04/2014 - 20:55
hackingbear writes: "Qin Zhihui, a user of the Chinese Twitter-like website Weibo, has confessed in court to spreading false rumors about the Chinese government in the first public trial under a Chinese crackdown on online rumors. China has threatened criminal penalties against anyone who spreads rumors on microblogs that are reposted more than 500 times, or seen by more than 5,000 users. Qin invented a story that the government gave 200m yuan (US$32m) in compensation to the family of a foreign passenger killed in a high-speed train crash in 2011 in order to incite hatred to the government which gave much lower compensation to Chinese nationals. The Chinese government did have policies in the past to give more compensations to foreigners than locals in disasters, though those policies have been phased out in recent years. Online rumours are particularly pervasive in China, where traditional media is heavily regulated by the government and public trust in the media is low."

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The New 'One Microsoft' Is Finally Poised For the Future

Fri, 11/04/2014 - 20:15
redletterdave writes: "The stodgy old enterprise company whose former CEO once called open source Linux a 'cancer' is gone. So is its notorious tendency to keep developers and consumers within its walled gardens. The 'One Microsoft' goal that looked like more gaseous corporate rhetoric upon its debut last summer now is instead much closer to actual reality. No longer are there different kernels for Windows 8, Windows Phone or Windows RT it's now all just One Windows. As goes the Windows kernel, so goes the entire company. Microsoft finally appears to have aimed all its guns outside the company rather than at internal rivals. Now it needs to rebuild its empire upon this new reality."

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$250K Reward Offered In California Power Grid Attack

Fri, 11/04/2014 - 18:43
An anonymous reader writes "The Associated Press reports that Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has put up a $250,000 reward for 'information leading to an arrest and conviction in a startling attack mounted nearly a year ago on telephone lines and the power grid in Silicon Valley.' Besides cutting power lines, the attackers also cut AT&T fiber-optic phone lines, thereby denying some people access to 911, and fired shots into a PB&E substation, knocking out 17 transformers in Silicon Valley and causing $15 million in damage. As of this post, the perpetrators are still unidentified and continue to elude the FBI. Meanwhile, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Thursday was brought before the Senate Energy Committee to explain why the FERC disseminated via insecure media a sensitive document describing where all the nation's power grids are particularly sensitive to a physical attack. FERC responded with assurances that databases are currently being scrubbed and procedures being implemented to safeguard critical data."

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'weev' Conviction Vacated

Fri, 11/04/2014 - 18:01
An anonymous reader writes "A few years back, Andrew 'weev' Auernheimer went public with a security vulnerability that made the personal information of 140,000 iPad owners available on AT&T's website. He was later sentenced to 41 months in prison for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (or because the government didn't understand his actions, depending on your viewpoint). Now, the Third U.S. District Court of Appeals has vacated weev's conviction. Oddly, the reason for the ruling was not based on the merits of the case, but on the venue in which he was tried (PDF). From the ruling: 'Although this appeal raises a number of complex and novel issues that are of great public importance in our increasingly interconnected age, we find it necessary to reach only one that has been fundamental since our country's founding: venue. The proper place of colonial trials was so important to the founding generation that it was listed as a grievance in the Declaration of Independence.'"

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Seven Habits of Highly Effective Unix Admins

Fri, 11/04/2014 - 17:18
jfruh writes: "Being a Unix or Linux admin tends to be an odd kind of job: you often spend much of your workday on your own, with lots of time when you don't have a specific pressing task, punctuated by moments of panic where you need to do something very important right away. Sandra Henry-Stocker, a veteran sysadmin, offers suggestions on how to structure your professional life if you're in this job. Her advice includes setting priorities, knowing your tools, and providing explanations to the co-workers whom you help." What habits have you found effective for system administration?

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Michael Bloomberg: You Can't Teach a Coal Miner To Code

Fri, 11/04/2014 - 16:36
theodp (442580) writes "Gigaom reports that while speaking at the Bloomberg Energy Summit on Wednesday, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he gives 'a lot of money to the Sierra Club' to help close dirty coal plants, but added that as a society we have to 'have some compassion to do it gently.' Subsidies to help displaced workers are one option, said Bloomberg, while retraining is another option. But, in a slight to the tech industry's sometimes out-of-touch nature with workers outside of Silicon Valley, he said retraining needs to be realistic, 'You're not going to teach a coal miner to code,' argued Bloomberg. 'Mark Zuckerberg says you teach them to code and everything will be great. I don't know how to break it to you... but no.'"

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The Graffiti Drone

Fri, 11/04/2014 - 15:53
tedlistens writes: "KATSU is known for his adventurous and speculative vandalism, but his new project is not fake or hypothetical, though it does elevate his work to new heights. He has developed a system to attach a spray can to a quadcopter, creating one of the world's first graffiti drones. The drone is capable of spraying canvases or walls hundreds of feet high, granting the artist access to spaces that were previously inaccessible. At the Silicon Valley Contemporary art fair, which opened Thursday, KATSU is showing a series of drone-painted canvasses — and preparing to take the drone out on the town. 'There are a lot of disadvantages to drones, you know. It's not like, "oh, I'll slip off the edge of this bridge and die,"' he tells the Center for the Study of the Drone at Motherboard, which also has a video. 'Its like, "I might have the drone drift off and I might kill someone."'"

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