Slashdot

Subscribe to Slashdot feed Slashdot
News for nerds, stuff that matters
Updated: 2 hours 6 min ago

Outsourced Tech Jobs Are Increasingly Being Automated

Thu, 09/10/2014 - 13:44
Jason Koebler writes Yahoo announced [Tuesday] it would be laying off at least 400 workers in its Indian office, and back in February, IBM cut roughly 2,000 jobs there. Meanwhile, tech companies are beginning to see that many of the jobs it has outsourced can be automated, instead. Labor in India and China is still cheaper than it is in the United States, but it's not the obvious economic move that it was just a few years ago: "The labor costs are becoming significant enough in China and India that there are very real discussions about automating jobs there now," Mark Muro, an economist at Brookings, said. "Companies are seeing that automated replacements are getting to be 'good enough.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








MIT Study Finds Fault With Mars One Colony Concept

Thu, 09/10/2014 - 13:03
MarkWhittington writes The Mars One project created a great deal of fanfare when it was first announced in 2012. The project, based in Holland, aspires to build a colony on Mars with the first uncrewed flight taking place in 2018 and the first colonists setting forth around 2024. The idea is that the colonists would go to Mars to stay, slowly building up the colony in four-person increments every 26-month launch window. However, Space Policy Online on Tuesday reported that an independent study conducted by MIT has poured cold water on the Mars colony idea. The MIT team consisting of engineering students had to make a number of assumptions based on public sources since the Mars One concept lacks a great many technical details. The study made the bottom line conclusion that the Mars One project is overly optimistic at best and unworkable at worst. The concept is "unsustainable" given the current state of technology and the aggressive schedule that the Mars One project has presented.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Eric Schmidt: Anxiety Over US Spying Will "Break the Internet"

Thu, 09/10/2014 - 10:36
jfruh writes Oregon Senator Ron Wyden gathered a group of tech luminaries to discuss the implications of U.S. surveillance programs, and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt didn't mince words. He said that worries over U.S. surveillance would result in servers with different sets of data for users from different countries multiplying across the world. "The simplest outcome is that we're going to end up breaking the Internet."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Open Invention Network Grows Despite Patent Troll Death Knell

Thu, 09/10/2014 - 07:59
snydeq writes Membership in the Open Invention Network, a software community set up to protect Linux against patent aggressors, has grown dramatically in the past year just as the tide seems to be turning on patent trolls. "Why all this interest in OIN? It offers little protection against nonpracticing entities — patent trolls who are organizationally small companies, even if the threat they pose is expensive and large. But it does offer protection against an equally insidious threat: big trolls," writes Simon Phipps. "The big corporations show up with their giant patent portfolios, threatening legal doom if royalties aren't paid. Attaching royalties to product or service delivery is a serious issue for companies, reducing margins long-term — especially in business models where the monetization is separated from the product. But OIN neutralizes that strategy for those building with open source, as the big corporations in the network both license their patent portfolios in and commit not to litigate against the open source software in the Linux System Definition. The bigger it gets, the better it protects."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








The Malware of the Future May Come Bearing Real Gifts

Thu, 09/10/2014 - 05:20
An anonymous reader writes "Research by Prof. Giovanni Vigna of the University of California leads him to believe that the malware of the future will come in a friendly form, be genuinely useful and may not reveal its intentions for a protracted period of time. Prof. Vigna, speaking at IP Expo in London, outlined a fearful future of 'mimicry' in evolved strains of malware. In the current stage of the war between malware and security researchers, the emphasis is almost entirely on the attempt to convince increasingly intelligent — and increasingly suspicious — malware that it is operating in a bare-metal environment when it is in fact in a sandbox or VM environment. For the malware, the stakes are tremendously high — if it has reached the point of OS-level execution without its hash being indexed and red-flagged by online security databases, it cannot afford to reveal its intentions in a test environment. This article outlines the extraordinary game of cat-and-mouse being played between researchers and hackers, and how future malware exploits are likely to abandon a rush for the buffer overflow in favor of 'the long game' — and to make themselves useful in the process.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Chimpanzee "Personhood" Is Back In Court

Thu, 09/10/2014 - 03:06
sciencehabit writes Chimpanzees are back in court. Judges in New York State heard the first in a series of appeals attempting to grant "legal personhood" to the animals. The case is part of a larger effort by an animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) to free a variety of creatures—from research chimps to aquarium dolphins—from captivity. If the case is successful, it could grant personhood to chimps throughout the state.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








What's Been the Best Linux Distro of 2014?

Thu, 09/10/2014 - 02:55
An anonymous reader writes With 23% of the year remaining, Linux Voice has donned flameproof clothing to subjectively examine what it feels have been the best distros of the year so far, including choices for beginners, desktop fashionistas and performance fetishists, before revealing a surprising overall winner.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








AT&T To Repay $80 Million In Shady Phone Bill Charges

Wed, 08/10/2014 - 22:30
First time accepted submitter dibdublin writes The Federal Trade Commission announced today that AT&T will pay $105 million for hiding extra charges in cellphone bills. The best part of the news? $80 million of it will go back into the pockets of people bilked by AT&T. The FTC announcement reads in part: "As part of a $105 million settlement with federal and state law enforcement officials, AT&T Mobility LLC will pay $80 million to the Federal Trade Commission to provide refunds to consumers the company unlawfully billed for unauthorized third-party charges, a practice known as mobile cramming. The refunds are part of a multi-agency settlement that also includes $20 million in penalties and fees paid to 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as a $5 million penalty to the Federal Communications Commission."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Killer Whales Caught On Tape Speaking Dolphin

Wed, 08/10/2014 - 19:39
sciencehabit writes Two years ago, scientists showed that dolphins imitate the sounds of whales. Now, it seems, whales have returned the favor. Researchers analyzed the vocal repertoires of 10 captive orcas, three of which lived with bottlenose dolphins and the rest with their own kind. Of the 1551 vocalizations these seven latter orcas made, more than 95% were the typical pulsed calls of killer whales. In contrast, the three orcas that had only dolphins as pals busily whistled and emitted dolphinlike click trains and terminal buzzes, the scientists report in the October issue of The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. The findings make orcas one of the few species of animals that, like humans, is capable of vocal learning (video)—a talent considered a key underpinning of language."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

Wed, 08/10/2014 - 17:30
HughPickens.com writes Adi Robertson argues that IBM's Model M keyboard, soon to turn 30 is still the only keyboard worth using for many people. Introduced in 1985 as part of the IBM 3161 terminal, the Model M was initially called the "IBM Enhanced Keyboard." A PC-compatible version appeared the following spring, and it officially became standard with the IBM Personal System / 2 in 1987. The layout of the Model M has been around so long that today it's simply taken for granted, but the keyboard's descendants have jettisoned one of the Model M's most iconic features — "buckling springs," designed to provide auditory and tactile feedback to the keyboard operator. "Model M owners sometimes ruefully post stories of spouses and coworkers who can't stand the incessant chatter. But fans say the springs' resistance and their audible "click" make it clear when a keypress is registered, reducing errors," writes Robertson. "Maybe more importantly, typing on the Model M is a special, tangible experience. Much like on a typewriter, the sharp click gives every letter a physical presence." According to Robertson, the Model M is an artifact from a time when high-end computing was still the province of industry, not pleasure. But while today's manufacturers have long since abandoned the concept of durability and longevity, refurbished Model Ms are still available from aficionados like Brandon Ermita, a Princeton University IT manager who recovers them from supply depots and recycling centers and sells them through his site, ClickyKeyboards. "For the very few that still appreciate the tactile feel of a typewriter-based computer keyboard and can still appreciate the simplicity of black letters on white keys, one can still seek out and own an original IBM model M keyboard — a little piece of early computing history," says Ermita. As one Reddit user recently commented, "Those bastards are the ORIGINAL gaming keyboards. No matter how much you abuse it, you'll die before it does.""

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Ebola Vaccine Trials Forcing Tough Choices

Wed, 08/10/2014 - 16:04
An anonymous reader writes: Medical researchers hope an experimental vaccine for Ebola can help protect against infection and slow the spread of the disease. Efficacy trials for the vaccine begin in a few months, and it's forcing some difficult decisions for health care officials. The first test will involve front line health care workers, who, as a group, are at the gravest risk of infection. But every trial needs a control group, and scientists are bitterly divided over whether the vaccine should be withheld from a portion of those putting their lives on the line to protect the rest of us. Development of the vaccine has been vastly accelerated already, due to the virus's spread and its mortality rate. "The leading alternative is a design known as step-wedge, which essentially uses time to create a control group. In this design, researchers take advantage of the inescapable reality that large-scale trials can't give everyone the vaccine on the exact same date; they compare the rates of infection in people already vaccinated with those who have yet to receive the shots. Barney Graham, a virologist ... says "people are more comfortable" with the step-wedge design, because everyone in such a study would get the Ebola vaccine. But statistically speaking, this design makes it more difficult to determine the vaccine's worth, and it takes longer." NY Mag has a related story summarizing the treatments currently being used to fight Ebola.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Systemd Adding Its Own Console To Linux Systems

Wed, 08/10/2014 - 15:22
An anonymous reader writes: The next version of systemd is poised to introduce an experimental "systemd-consoled" that serves as a user-space console daemon. The consoled furthers the Linux developers' goal of eventually deprecating the VT subsystem found within the Linux kernel in favor of a user-space driven terminal that supports better localization, increased security, and greater robustness of the kernel's seldom touched and hairy CONFIG_VT'ed code.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Chrome 38 Released: New APIs and 159 Security Fixes

Wed, 08/10/2014 - 14:58
An anonymous reader writes: In addition to updating Chrome for iOS, Google has released Chrome 38 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. While Chrome 38 beta brought a slew of new features, the stable release is pretty much just a massive security update. This means that, with Chrome 38, Google isn't adding any features to the stable channel (full changelog). That said, Chrome 38 does address 159 security issues (including 113 "relatively minor ones"). Google spent $75,633.70 in bug bounties for this release.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


US Says It Can Hack Foreign Servers Without Warrants

Wed, 08/10/2014 - 13:14
Advocatus Diaboli tips news that the U.S. government is now arguing it doesn't need warrants to hack servers hosted on foreign soil. At issue is the current court case against Silk Road operator Ross Ulbricht. We recently discussed how the FBI's account of how they obtained evidence from Silk Road servers didn't seem to mesh with reality. Now, government lawyers have responded in a new court filing (PDF). They say that even if the FBI had to hack those servers without a warrant, it doesn't matter, because the Fourth Amendment does not confer protection to servers hosted outside the U.S. They said, "Given that the SR Server was hosting a blatantly criminal website, it would have been reasonable for the FBI to 'hack' into it in order to search it, as any such 'hack' would simply have constituted a search of foreign property known to contain criminal evidence, for which a warrant was not necessary."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


GNOME 3 Winning Back Users

Wed, 08/10/2014 - 10:22
Mcusanelli writes: GNOME 3, the open source desktop environment for Linux systems that once earned a lot of ire, is receiving newfound praise for the maturity of GNOME Shell and other improvements. The recent release of version 3.14 capped off a series of updates that have gone a long way toward resolving users' problems and addressing complaints. One of the big pieces was the addition of "Classic mode" in 3.8, which got it into RHEL 7, and Debian is switching back as well.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


NASA Study: Ocean Abyss Has Not Warmed

Wed, 08/10/2014 - 06:05
submitter bigwheel sends this excerpt from a NASA news release: The cold waters of Earth's deep ocean have not warmed measurably since 2005, according to a new NASA study, leaving unsolved the mystery of why global warming appears to have slowed in recent years. Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, analyzed satellite and direct ocean temperature data from 2005 to 2013 and found the ocean abyss below 1.24 miles (1,995 meters) has not warmed measurably. Study coauthor Josh Willis of JPL said these findings do not throw suspicion on climate change itself. "The sea level is still rising," Willis noted. "We're just trying to understand the nitty-gritty details."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Europol Predicts First Online Murder By End of This Year

Wed, 08/10/2014 - 05:15
An anonymous reader sends this story from The Stack: The world's first "online murder" over an internet-connected device could happen by the end of this year, Europol has warned. Research carried out by the European Union's law enforcement agency has found that governments are not equipped to fight the growing threat of "online murder," as cyber criminals start to exploit internet technologies to target victims physically. The study, which was published last week, analyzed the possible physical dangers linked to cyber criminality and found that a rise in "injury and possible deaths" could be expected as computer hackers launch attacks on critical connected equipment. The assessment particularly referred to a report by IID, a U.S. security firm, which forecast that the world's first murder via a "hacked internet-connected device" would happen by the end of 2014.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Glut of Postdoc Researchers Stirs Quiet Crisis In Science

Wed, 08/10/2014 - 01:14
HughPickens.com writes: Carolyn Johnson reports in the Boston Globe that in recent years, the position of postdoctoral researcher has become less a stepping stone and more of a holding tank. Postdocs are caught up in an all-but-invisible crisis, mired in an underclass as federal funding for research has leveled off, leaving the supply of well-trained scientists outstripping demand. "It's sunk in that it's by no means guaranteed — for anyone, really — that an academic position is possible," says Gary McDowell, a 29-year old biologist doing his second postdoc. "There's this huge labor force here to do the bench work, the grunt work of science. But then there's nowhere for them to go; this massive pool of postdocs that accumulates and keeps growing." The problem is that any researcher running a lab today is training far more people than there will ever be labs to run. Often these supremely well-educated trainees are simply cheap laborers, not learning skills for the careers where they are more likely to find jobs. This wasn't such an issue decades ago, but universities have expanded the number of PhD students they train from about 30,000 biomedical graduate students in 1979 to 56,800 in 2009, flooding the system with trainees and drawing out the training period. Possible solutions span a wide gamut, from halving the number of postdocs over time, to creating a new tier of staff scientists that would be better paid. One thing people seem to agree on is that simply adding more money to the pot will not by itself solve the oversupply. Facing these stark statistics, postdocs are taking matters into their own hands, recently organizing a Future of Research conference in Boston that they hoped would give voice to their frustrations and hopes and help shape change. They ask, "How can we, as the next generation, run the system?"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Sharp Developing LCD Screens In Almost Any Shape

Wed, 08/10/2014 - 00:30
jfruh writes: Traditional LCD panels are rectangular because the tiny chips that drive each pixel of the display are fitted along the edge of the glass panel on which the screen is made. But in a new breed of screens from Sharp, the chips are embedded between the pixels so that means a lot more freedom in screen shape: only one edge of the screen needs to be a straight line, which could give rise to a host of new applications.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Belkin Router Owners Suffering Massive Outages

Tue, 07/10/2014 - 20:49
An anonymous reader writes: ISPs around the country are being kept busy today answering calls from frustrated customers with Belkin routers. Overnight, a firmware issue left many of the Belkin devices with no access to the customer's broadband connection. Initial speculation was that a faulty firmware upgrade caused the devices to lose connectivity, but even users with automatic updates disabled are running into trouble. The problem seems to be that the routers "occasionally ping heartbeat.belkin.com to detect network connectivity," but are suddenly unable to get a response. Belkin has acknowledged the issue and posted a workaround while they work on a fix.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Pages