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Updated: 3 days 6 hours ago

Interviews: Ask Bjarne Stroustrup About Programming and C++

Thu, 14/08/2014 - 17:35
In addition to being the creator of C++, Bjarne Stroustrup is a Managing Director in the technology division of Morgan Stanley, a Visiting Professor in Computer Science at Columbia University, and a Distinguished Research Professor in Computer Science at Texas A&M University. Bjarne has written a number of books and was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He will be doing a live Google + Q & A within the C++ community on August 20th, 2014 at 12:30pm EST, but has agreed to answer your questions first. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.

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How to Maintain Lab Safety While Making Viruses Deadlier

Thu, 14/08/2014 - 16:56
Lasrick (2629253) writes "A scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison published an article in June revealing that he had taken genes from the deadly human 1918 Spanish Flu and inserted them into the H5N1 avian flu to make a new virus—one which was both far deadlier and far more capable of spreading than the original avian strain. In July it was revealed that the same scientist was conducting another study in which he genetically altered the 2009 strain of flu to enable it to evade immune responses, 'effectively making the human population defenseless against re-emergence.' In the U.S. alone, biosafety incidents involving pathogens happen more than twice per week. These 'gain-of-function' experiments are accidents waiting to happen, with the possibility of starting deadly pandemics that could kill millions. It isn't as if it hasn't happened before: in 2009, a group of Chinese scientists created a viral strain of flu virus that escaped the lab and created a pandemic, killing thousands of people. 'Against this backdrop, the growing use of gain-of-function approaches for research requires more careful examination. And the potential consequences keep getting more catastrophic.' This article explores the history of lab-created pandemics and outlines recommendations for a safer approach to this type of research."

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Telegram Not Dead STOP Alive, Evolving In Japan STOP

Thu, 14/08/2014 - 13:09
itwbennett writes Japan is one of the last countries in the world where telegrams are still widely used. A combination of traditional manners, market liberalization and innovation has kept alive this age-old form of messaging. Companies affiliated with the country's three mobile carriers, NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and SoftBank, offer telegrams, which are sent via modern server networks instead of the dedicated electrical wires of the past (Morse telegraphy hasn't been used since 1962), and then printed out with modern printers instead of tape glued on paper. But customers are still charged according to the length of the message, which is delivered within three hours. A basic NTT telegram up to 25 characters long can be sent for ¥440 ($4.30) when ordered online.

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Gartner: Internet of Things Has Reached Hype Peak

Thu, 14/08/2014 - 08:09
Brandon Butler writes In the annual battle of the buzzwords, the Internet of Things has won. Each year the research firm Gartner puts out a Hype Cycle of emerging technologies, a sort of report card for various trends and buzzwords. This year, IoT tops the list. On another note, somewhat surprising is that Gartner says the "cloud computing" is not just hype anymore, but becoming a mainstream technology.

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Murder Suspect Asked Siri Where To Hide a Dead Body

Thu, 14/08/2014 - 03:50
An anonymous reader writes A Florida man currently on trial for murder reportedly attempted to use Siri to garner ideas about where to bury the body of his dead roommate. According to police allegations, a University of Florida student named Pedro Bravo murdered his roommate via strangulation in late September of 2012 over a dispute involving Bravo's ex- girlfriend. According to a detective working the case, Bravo subsequently fired up Siri on his iPhone and asked it "I need to hide my roommate."

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California May Waive Environmental Rules For Tesla

Wed, 13/08/2014 - 22:36
cartechboy writes: We all know Tesla is working on its Gigafactory, and it has yet to announce officially where it will be. But the automaker did announce a shortlist of possible locations, and California wasn't on it. The state has quickly been trying to lure Tesla to get back into contention. Now the state may waive environmental rules which would normally make construction of such a large manufacturing facility more difficult. Apparently, Governor Jerry Brown's office is currently negotiating an incentive package for Tesla that would waive certain parts of the nearly half-century-old California Environmental Quality Act. Not only that, but state officials are reportedly considering letting Tesla begin construction and perform damage mitigation later, along with limiting lawsuits that could slow down the project. Let's not forget some massive tax breaks, to the tune of $500 million. Is California stepping out of bounds here?

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Why the Public Library Beats Amazon

Wed, 13/08/2014 - 21:55
Nate the greatest writes: The launch of Kindle Unlimited last month has many questioning the value of public libraries, with one pundit on Forbes even going so far as to proclaim that the U.K. could save money by shuttering all its libraries and replacing them with Kindle Unlimited subscriptions. Luckily for libraries, they're safe for now because they still beat Kindle Unlimited and its competitors in at least one category: content you want to read. As several reviewers have noted, Kindle Unlimited is stocked almost entirely with indie titles, with a handful of major titles thrown in. Even Scribd and Oyster only have ebooks from two of the five major U.S. publishers, while U.S. public libraries can offer titles from all five. They might be expensive and you might have to get on a waiting list, but as the Wall Street Journal points out, public libraries are safe because they can still offer a better selection. That is true, but I think the WSJ missed a key point: public libraries beat Amazon because they offer services Amazon cannot, including in-person tech support, internet access, and other basic assistance. The fact of the matter is, you can't use KU, Scribd, or Oyster if you don't know how to use your device, and your local public library is the best place to learn.

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The Benefits of Inequality

Wed, 13/08/2014 - 21:35
New submitter MutualFun sends this article from Science News: Which would you prefer: egalitarianism or totalitarianism? When it comes down to it, the choice you make may not be as obvious as you think. New research suggests that in the distant past, groups of hunter-gatherers may have recognized and accepted the benefits of living in hierarchical societies, even if they themselves weren't counted among the well-off. This model could help explain why bands of humans moved from largely egalitarian groups to hierarchical cultures in which social inequality was rife.

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DEFCON's Latest Challenge: Hacking Altruism

Wed, 13/08/2014 - 19:08
jfruh writes: A casual observer at the latest DEFCON conference in Las Vegas might not have noticed much change from last year — still tons of leather, piercing, and body art, still groups of men gathered in darkened ballrooms furiously typing commands. But this year there's a new focus: hacking not just for the lulz, but focusing specifically on highlighting computer security problems that have the potential to do real-world physical harm to human beings.

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Ask Slashdot: Corporate Open Source Policy?

Wed, 13/08/2014 - 18:25
Phiro69 (3782875) writes Does anyone have any best practices/experience they would like to share on how their corporate entity put Open Source Software out on the Internet? Historically at my engineering firm, we've followed a model where we internally build a 1.0 release of something we want to open source, the product owner and legal perform a deep review of the release, and we push it out to a platform like Github where it typically sits and rusts. Our engineering interns have started down a new path: Using Github from the beginning (I set the repo private), and, after a bare minimum is completed, flipping the repo public and continuing development in the open using Github. How do PO and Legal reviews fit in? How can we ensure we're not exposing ourselves or diluting our IP if we're doing semi-constant development, publicly, sans a heavily gated review process? What does everyone else do? Or does corporate America avoid this entire opportunity/entanglement/briar patch?

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Snowden: NSA Working On Autonomous Cyberwarfare Bot

Wed, 13/08/2014 - 17:43
WIRED published a long piece on Edward Snowden today (worth a read on its own), and simultaneously broke news of "MonsterMind," an NSA program to monitor all network traffic and detect attacks, responding with a counterattack automatically. From the article: Although details of the program are scant, Snowden tells WIRED in an extensive interview with James Bamford that algorithms would scour massive repositories of metadata and analyze it to differentiate normal network traffic from anomalous or malicious traffic. Armed with this knowledge, the NSA could instantly and autonomously identify, and block, a foreign threat. More than this, though, Snowden suggests MonsterMind could one day be designed to return fire — automatically, without human intervention... Snowden raised two issues with the program: the source of an attack could be spoofed to trick the U.S. into attacking an innocent third party, and the violation of the fourth amendment since the NSA would effectively need to monitor all domestic network traffic for the program to work. Also in Bamford's interview are allegations that the NSA knocked Syria offline in 2012 after an attempt to install intercept software on an edge router ended with the router being bricked.

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NASA's Greenhouse Gas Observatory Captures 'First Light'

Wed, 13/08/2014 - 17:06
mdsolar (1045926) writes with news that NASA's second attempt to launch a satellite to map carbon dioxide levels across the globe succeeded, and its instruments are operating properly. From the article: NASA's first spacecraft dedicated to studying Earth's atmospheric climate changing carbon dioxide levels and its carbon cycle has reached its final observing orbit and taken its first science measurements as the leader of the world's first constellation of Earth science satellites known as the International 'A-Train. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) is a research satellite tasked with collecting the first global measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) — the leading human-produced greenhouse gas and the principal human-produced driver of climate change. The 'first light' measurements were conducted on Aug. 6 as the observatory flew over central Papua New Guinea and confirmed the health of the science instrument.

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Android Motorcycle Helmet/HUD Gains Funding

Wed, 13/08/2014 - 16:31
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes Skully Systems has achieved Indiegogo funding for a high-tech Android 4.4 based motorcycle helmet with a head-up display (HUD), GPS navigation, and a 180-degree rearview camera. The Skully AR-1 helmet launched on Indiegogo on Aug. 10 and quickly blasted past its $250,000 flexible funding goal and has already surpassed $900,000 in funding. The helmet runs a heavily modified version of Android 4.4, with both screen size and safety in mind, according to Skully's Tow. 'You should not think of it as being Android as seen in a phone; it doesn't run the same skin,' wrote Tow on the Skully forum page. 'You instead should think of it as a variant of Linux, not Android per se. What counts is the device drivers, graphics rendering for our turn by turn directions and vehicle telemetry, etc. More nerdy things like communication over the I2C bus to the image processing module.' Helmets are available starting at $1,399, with shipments due in May 2015.

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The IPv4 Internet Hiccups

Wed, 13/08/2014 - 13:13
New submitter pla writes: Due to a new set of routes published yesterday, the internet has effectively undergone a schism. All routers with a TCAM allocation of 512k (or less), in particular Cisco Catalyst 6500 and 7600's, have started randomly forgetting portions of the internet. 'Cisco also warned its customers in May that this BGP problem was coming and that, in particular, a number of routers and networking products would be affected. There are workarounds, and, of course the equipment could have been replaced. But, in all too many cases this was not done. ... Unfortunately, we can expect more hiccups on the Internet as ISPs continue to deal with the BGP problem." Is it time to switch to all IPv6 yet?

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Twitter Reports 23 Million Users Are Actually Bots

Wed, 13/08/2014 - 10:15
An anonymous reader writes: In its most recent quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Twitter disclosed that approximately 8.5% of its users are actually bots. Some of these 23 million bots were created to make revenue-generating URLs, others were created to collect followers that would later be sold to whoever needs a ready audience, and a few were created to mimic stereotypes just for fun. Now that Twitter is a public company, some wonder if these bots help or hinder Twitter's stock value.

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The Quiet Before the Next IT Revolution

Wed, 13/08/2014 - 07:20
snydeq writes: Now that the technologies behind our servers and networks have stabilized, IT can look forward to a different kind of constant change, writes Paul Venezia. "In IT, we are actually seeing a bit of stasis. I don't mean that the IT world isn't moving at the speed of light — it is — but the technologies we use in our corporate data centers have progressed to the point where we can leave them be for the foreseeable future without worry that they will cause blocking problems in other areas of the infrastructure. What all this means for IT is not that we can finally sit back and take a break after decades of turbulence, but that we can now focus less on the foundational elements of IT and more on the refinements. ... In essence, we have finally built the transcontinental railroad, and now we can use it to completely transform our Wild West."

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Apple's Diversity Numbers: 70% Male, 55% White

Wed, 13/08/2014 - 05:15
An anonymous reader writes: Apple has released a diversity report on the genders and races of its employees. As is common in the tech industry, the majority of Apple's workforce is male — only three out of 10 employees around the globe are female. Broken down, males compose 65 percent of non-tech workers, 80 percent of tech workers, and 72 percent of Apple's leadership. According to CEO Tim Cook, he's unhappy with Apple's diversity numbers and says Apple is working to improve them: "Apple is committed to transparency, which is why we are publishing statistics about the race and gender makeup of our company. Let me say up front: As CEO, I'm not satisfied with the numbers on this page. They're not new to us, and we've been working hard for quite some time to improve them. We are making progress, and we're committed to being as innovative in advancing diversity as we are in developing our products."

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Scientists Who Smuggle Radioactive Materials

Wed, 13/08/2014 - 03:13
Lasrick writes: Although the complicity of scientists in the smuggling of radioactive materials has been a long-standing concern, smuggling-prevention efforts have so far failed to recognize a key aspect to the problem: scientists are often sought out to test the quality and level of the material well before it is taken to the black market. Egle Murauskaite of the U.S. National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) describes why concentrating on this aspect of the smuggling process, long considered less egregious than the actual selling of the material, could really make a difference in keeping radioactive materials off the black market in the first place.

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Reversible Type-C USB Connector Ready For Production

Tue, 12/08/2014 - 23:47
orasio writes: One of the most frustrating first-world problems ever (trying to connect an upside-down Micro-USB connector) could disappear soon. The Type-C connector for USB has been declared ready for production by the USB Promoter Group (PDF). "With the Type-C spec finalized, it now comes down to the USB-IF to actually implement the sockets, plugs, cables, adapters, and devices. The problem is that there are billions of existing USB devices and cables that will need adapters and new cables to work with new Type-C devices. It’s a lot like when Apple released the Lightning connector, but on an even grander scale. Further exacerbating the issue is the fact that China, the EU, and the GSMA have all agreed that new mobile devices use Micro-USB for charging — though it might be as simple as including a Micro-USB-to-Type-C adapter with every new smartphone."

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Is "Scorpion" Really a Genius?

Tue, 12/08/2014 - 06:25
An anonymous reader writes CBS's upcoming hacker show Scorpion is pitched as based on the real life of Irish 'eccentric genius' Walter O'Brien a.k.a. "Scorpion". Some of the claims made for the real Scorpion are extraordinary. A child prodigy with an IQ of 197, hacking Nasa at age 13, [supplying] Ireland with more Personal Computers than DELL and Gateway together. Searching online I wasn't able to find anything which, for me, clearly backed up any of these (or other) claims. For example, rather than being the sixth fastest programmer in the world in 1993, his team ranked 90th out of 250 teams. Curiously, his degree grade was an ok, but hardly stellar B+ (II-I). Does anyone know anything to back up the genius claims being made about Scorpion?

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