Feed aggregator

Uber's Silicon Valley Employees May Be Looking to Jump Ship

Slashdot -

Some San Francisco-based recruiters and executives at Uber's rival companies told the Financial Times in a Monday article that the number of Uber employees looking to leave the ride-sharing company has spiked. From a report: "One of the main reasons is lack of faith in senior leadership," one unnamed recruiter that previously worked with Uber told the FT. The news comes as the company weathers waves of criticism regarding its leadership, political stance, and internal culture. An Uber spokesperson told the FT that its current level of departures has been normal.

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What the Death of CRT Display Means For Classic Arcade Machines

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader shares a VentureBeat report:The cathode-ray-tube technology that powered the monitors for nearly every classic arcade game in the twentieth century is defunct. Sony, Samsung, and others have left it behind for skinnier and more lucrative LCDs and plasmas, and the CRTs that are left are about to sell out. The current stock of new 29-inch CRT monitors is dwindling. Online arcade cabinet and parts supplier Dream Arcades has fewer than 30 of those large displays sitting on its shelves. When it sells out of the current inventory, it will never get another shipment in that size again. "We've secured enough [of the other sizes] to get us all the way through next year," says Michael Ware, founder of Dream Arcades. "After that, that's it." The future of arcade-cabinet restoration is looking bleak. "The old arcade games are like aging people," says Walter Day, founder of high-score-keeping site Twin Galaxies. "They have old livers and aging kidneys. There will come a day when very few arcade cabinets have original components. Time will wear them out." To be clear, it's not that games like Donkey Kong or Pac-Man will suddenly become unplayable. The games can run on newer LCD screens, but they may not look as the developers intended.

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Drupalize.Me: Drupal Dev Days Is in Spain

Drupal Planet -

Drupal Dev Days has been a recurring event since 2010, when it got started in Munich. Since then it has changed location within Europe every year. This year it is being hosted in Seville, Spain from March 21-25. Dev Days is a special event, and I have my own very fond memories from previous years.

Exploit that Caused iPhones To Repeatedly Dial 911 Reveals Grave Cybersecurity Threat, Say Experts

Slashdot -

Ben Lovejoy, writing for 9to5Mac: We reported back in October on an iOS exploit that caused iPhones to repeatedly dial 911 without user intervention. It was said then that the volume of calls meant one 911 center was in 'immediate danger' of losing service, while two other centers had been at risk -- but a full investigation has now concluded that the incident was much more serious than it appeared at the time. It was initially thought that a few hundred calls were generated in a short time, but investigators now believe that one tweeted link that activated the exploit was clicked on 117,502 times, each click triggering a 911 call. The WSJ reports that law-enforcement officials and 911 experts fear that a targeted attack using the same technique could prove devastating. Of the 6,500 911 call centers nationwide, just 420 are believed to have implemented a cybersecurity program designed to protect them from this kind of attack.

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IBM Will Sell 50-Qubit Universal Quantum Computer In the Next Few Years

Slashdot -

Months after laying the groundwork for offerings in emerging tech categories such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, IBM sees quantum computers as a big, if nascent, business opportunity. From a report on ArsTechnica: IBM will build and sell commercial 50-qubit universal quantum computers, dubbed IBM Q, "in the next few years." No word on pricing just yet, but I wouldn't expect much change from $15 million -- the cost of a non-universal D-Wave quantum computer. In other news, IBM has also opened up an API (sample code available on Github) that gives developers easier access to the five-qubit quantum computer currently connected to the IBM cloud. Later in the year, IBM will release a full SDK, further simplifying the process of building quantum software. You can't actually do much useful computation with five qubits, mind you, but fortunately IBM also has news there: the company's quantum simulator can now simulate up to 20 qubits. The idea is that developers should start thinking about potential 20-qubit quantum scenarios now, so they're ready to be deployed when IBM builds the actual hardware.

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Google's Featured Snippets Are Worse Than Fake News

Slashdot -

Adrianne Jeffries, reporting for The Outline: Peter Shulman, an associate history professor at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, was lecturing on the reemergence of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s when a student asked an odd question: Was President Warren Harding a member of the KKK? Shulman was taken aback. He confessed that he was not aware of that allegation, but that Harding had been in favor of anti-lynching legislation, so it seemed unlikely. But then a second student pulled out his phone and announced that yes, Harding had been a Klan member, and so had four other presidents. It was right there on Google, clearly emphasized inside a box at the top of the page. "I understand what Google is trying to do, and it's work that perhaps requires algorithmic aid," Shulman said in an email. "But in this instance, the question its algorithm scoured the internet to answer is simply a poorly conceived one. There have been no presidents in the Klan." Google needs to invest in human experts who can judge what type of queries should produce a direct answer like this, Shulman said. "Or, at least in this case, not send an algorithm in search of an answer that isn't simply 'There is no evidence any American president has been a member of the Klan.' It'd be great if instead of highlighting a bogus answer, it provided links to accessible, peer-reviewed scholarship."

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Researchers Suggest Using Blockchain For Electronic Health Records

Slashdot -

The CIO at a Boston teaching hospital and two MIT researchers write in the Harvard Business Review that blockchain "has the potential to enable secure lifetime medical record sharing across providers," calling it "a different construct, providing a universal set of tools for cryptographic assurance of data integrity, standardized auditing, and formalized 'contracts' for data access." An anonymous reader quotes their report: A vexing problem facing health care systems throughout the world is how to share more medical data with more stakeholders for more purposes, all while ensuring data integrity and protecting patient privacy... Today humans manually attempt to reconcile medical data among clinics, hospitals, labs, pharmacies, and insurance companies. It does not work well because there is no single list of all the places data can be found or the order in which it was entered... Imagine that every electronic health record (EHR) sent updates about medications, problems, and allergy lists to an open-source, community-wide trusted ledger, so additions and subtractions to the medical record were well understood and auditable across organizations. Instead of just displaying data from a single database, the EHR could display data from every database referenced in the ledger. The end result would be perfectly reconciled community-wide information about you, with guaranteed integrity from the point of data generation to the point of use, without manual human intervention.

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The Automation Vigilante

The Daily WTF -

Fresh off an internship, Trace landed his first full-time job performing customer service and administration at a large company.

Oddly enough, customer service wasn't the worst part of the job. He barely had time to help customers due to all the tasks required just to tread water in the company's lumbering beast of an ERP system. All day long, he had to click the same buttons, generate the same PDF files, and send the same emails.

This drudgery wasn't limited to Trace, either. Everyone in his department, from other young graduates to the most senior reps, performed the same grueling ritual. It'd been devised long before Trace was born, and it was taken for granted—right along with the resultant stress, weariness, and repeated mantra of "I'm too busy right now!"

Trace saw no reason why the repetitive process couldn't be automated in some fashion, but Trace wasn't a programmer himself. Undaunted, he scheduled a meeting with his boss to go over his idea.

"Let's bring in someone who can write a program for this. It'll save lots of time and effort in the long run, which we can then use to help our customers." Trace smiled, excited by the prospect of making a real difference at his new corporate home.

There was no crack in his manager's tired expression. "It's not an ideal process, sure, but it works. Besides, we don't have room in our budget to hire programmers."

That was the day Trace learned that there wasn't a single sound suggestion in the universe that couldn't be shot down with the words, "There's no budget for that."

He returned to his desk, discouraged. Just as he was about to plow back into his paperwork, he had a new thought. Wait, why can't I make this happen? He wasn't a programmer, but that didn't mean he couldn't learn. Hadn't his college roomate always told him that 90% of his CompSci major came down to how well he phrased his Google searches?

During downtime and after work, Trace began to teach himself how to code. At first, he'd learn operations and then copy/paste them like mad—he hadn't learned loops yet—but over time, the program gained sophistication. It could click buttons, create PDF files, send emails, and lookup and consolidate important information.

It was time to show it to the team. Trace spent a few coffee breaks approaching people at their cubes, demonstrating his achievement. "Isn't this great?"

Some of the newer coworkers saw the benefit at once. The more veteran employees frowned with confusion, scorn, or outright fear.

"Are you trying to get us all fired, kid? If you show this to management, we're screwed!"

"I don't have any control over this!"

"My way works for me!"

Trace reluctantly left these folks to keep clicking the same buttons, generating the same PDF files, sending the same emails, and making the same old tired complaints about their workload. He learned another important lesson about how easy it was to become complacent with, and even dependent upon, the status quo.

With that lesson firmly in mind, he spent his free time deepening his programming knowledge, refining his existing code, even throwing in a few loops. It paid off as his daily administrative chores became a matter of clicks rather than hours. Customers gave him great feedback because he had time to give their issues the attention they deserved.

Over time, Trace climbed the ladder with promotions, and quietly shared his program with each new hire. Whenever they suggested process improvements of their own, he made sure to listen.

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Ask Slashdot: What Would Happen If All Software Ran On All Platforms?

Slashdot -

Slashdot reader dryriver writes: We live in a computing world where the OS you use -- Windows, OS X, Linux, Android, iOS, others -- often determines what software can and cannot be run on a given electronic device. (Let us pretend for a moment that emulators and other options don't exist). What if -- magically -- such a thing as as Universally Compatible Software Application were possible. Software, in other words, that is magically capable of running on any electronic device equipped with enough CPU, GPU and memory capacity to run the software in a usable way. Example: 3D CAD software that runs on Windows 14, Playstation 7, an Android Smartphone, Nintendo's latest handheld gaming device and an Ubuntu PC in exactly the same way with no compatibility problems whatsoever occurring. What would and would not change in such a computing world? He also asks an even more important question: will this ever be possible or feasible from a technical standpoint? So leave your best answers in the comments. Will it ever be possible to run all software on all platforms -- and what would happen if we could?

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Kernel prepatch 4.11-rc1

LWN Headlines -

The first 4.11 kernel prepatch is out, and the merge window is closed for this development cycle. "This looks like a fairly regular release. It's on the smallish side, but mainly just compared to 4.9 and 4.10 - so it's not really _unusually_ small (in recent kernels, 4.1, 4.3, 4.5, 4.7 and now 4.11 all had about the same number of commits in the merge window)." There were 10,960 non-merge commits pulled in the end, so it's definitely not unusually small.

The US Waged A Secret Cyber War Against North Korean Missiles

Slashdot -

Early Monday morning North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the sea of Japan, lending a new urgency to Saturday's revelation from the New York Times of America's "secret cyberwar" with North Korea. Slashdot reader Frosty Piss summarizes its suspected effects succinctly: "Soon after ex-President Obama ordered the secret program three years ago, North Korean missiles began exploding, veering off course, or crashing into the sea." The Times reports the program was started when Obama "concluded that the $300 billion spent since the Eisenhower era on traditional anti-missile systems...had failed the core purpose of protecting the continental United States," with tests of missile interceptors showing an overall failure rate of at least 56%. But after interviewing government officials, the Times concludes that the U.S. "still does not have the ability to effectively counter the North Korean nuclear and missile programs." Options include escalating the cyber and electronic warfare, trying to negotiate a freeze, asking the Chinese to cut off trade and support, or preparing for direct missile strikes on the launch sites, "which Obama also considered, but there is little chance of hitting every target." The New York Times article concludes: The White House is looking at military options against North Korea, a senior Trump administration official said. Putting U.S. tactical nuclear weapons back in South Korea -- they were withdrawn a quarter-century ago -- is also under consideration, even if that step could accelerate an arms race with the North.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Sprint Wins $140M Verdict Against Time Warner Cable For Infringing VoIP Patents

Slashdot -

Sprint "may have just scored its biggest payout yet," reports Ars Technica, pointing out that Sprint's been filing lawsuits over its VoIP patents for more than a decade. An anonymous reader quotes their report: On Friday, a jury in Sprint's home district of Kansas City said that Time Warner Cable, now part of Charter Communications, must pay $139.8 million for infringing several patents related to VoIP technology. The jury found that TWC's infringement was willful, which means that the judge could increase the damage award up to three times its value... Sprint filed the lawsuits that led to Friday's verdict in 2011, when it sued TWC along with Comcast, Cox, and Cable One, saying the competing companies violated 12 different Sprint VoIP patents. The article points out that Comcast's response was to immediately file a countersuit, which so far has resulted in an early $7.5 million verdict in their favor.

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Litebook Launches A $249 Linux Laptop

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: It's "like a Chromebook for Linux users on a budget," reports ZDNet. The new 2.9-pound Litebook uses Intel's Celeron N3150 processor and ships with a 14.1-inch display and a 512-gigabyte hard drive with full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080). For $20 more they'll throw in a 32-gigabyte SSD to speed up your boot time. "Unlike Windows laptops, Litebooks are highly optimized, come without performance hogging bloatware, [are] designed to ensure your privacy, and are entirely free of malware and viruses," writes the company's web site. They also add that their new devices "are affordable, customizable, and are backwards compatible with Windows software."

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Savas Labs: Five Drupal 8 Tips to Empower Content Authors

Drupal Planet -

Creating and publishing quality content within time constraints is a common challenge for many content authors. As web engineers, we are focused on helping our clients overcome this challenge by delivering systems that are intuitive, stable, and a pleasure to operate. Customizing the user experience for content authors is a critical component that site architects must implement in order to establish and maintain client satisfaction. Drupal 8 makes it easier for digital agencies to empower content creators and editors with the right tools to get the job done efficiently. Here are five tips in Drupal 8 that make the content authoring experience more enjoyable and productive. Continue reading…

FBI Dismisses Child Porn Case Rather Than Reveal Their Tor Browser Exploit

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: Federal prosecutors just dropped charges against a child pornography suspect rather than reveal the source code for their Tor exploit. Of the 200 cases they're prosecuting nationwide, this is only the second one where the FBI has asked that the case be dismissed. "Disclosure is not currently an option," federal prosecutors wrote in a court ruling Friday. The Department of Justice is still prosecuting 135 different people believed to have accessed an illegal child pornography web site. Before shutting it down, the FBI seized the site and operated it themselves for 13 more days, which allowed them to deploy malware to expose the users' real IP addresses.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

What Happens When Robots Can Deliver Your Groceries?

Slashdot -

"What if you could get groceries in less than two minutes without even leaving your apartment?" asks VentureBeat. "Another beer...? Think guacamole would go extremely well with those Doritos you just opened?" Several grocery-delivery startups are already working to make this a reality. Slashdot reader moglito summarizes their vision of autonomous indoor-delivery robots from automated refrigerators servicing high-rise apartment buildings. Coupled with AI algorithms for learning what residents like to consume, and algorithms for automatically restocking those items via a network of suppliers or logistics companies, this "bot-mart" could make grocery shopping a boring and time-consuming thing of the past... Will robots similarly reduce the need for a kitchen next? Yes, the article also describes cooking robots (which can already prepare burgers, pizza, and sandwiches), as well as new automated delivery vehicles restaurants. "Perhaps the only question remaining is whether there is a business case for this," they point out -- though under some scenarios, it could actually prove cheaper than driving to the grocery store yourself. "Consumers will find it ever easier to get what they want, when they want it, where they want it."

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Windows 10 Build 15048 Has a Windows Mixed Reality Demo You Can Try

Slashdot -

Microsoft's big push into mixed reality involves headsets from multiple manufacturers (including ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo), and developer kits with Acer's headset will begin a phased rollout this month. But Windows 10's latest "Insider Preview" build already includes a mixed reality simulator with a first-person 3D environment that can be navigated with the W, A, S and D keys. Slashdot reader Mark Wilson writes: From the look of the changelog for Windows 10 build 15048 that was released a few days ago to Insiders, it looked to be little more than a bug fixing release. But in fact Microsoft has already started to include references to -- and even a portal for -- Windows Mixed Reality. We have seen reference to Windows Holographic in Windows 10 before, but this is the first time there has been anything to play with. It coincides nicely with Microsoft revealing that Windows Mixed Reality is the new name for Windows Holographic, and it gives Insiders the chance to not only see if their computer meets the recommended specs, but also to try out a Windows Mixed reality simulation.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft Browser Usage Drops 50% As Chrome Soars

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader quotes Network World's report about new statistics from analytics vendor Net Applications: From March 2015 to February 2017, the use of Microsoft's IE and Edge on Windows personal computers plummeted. Two years ago, the browsers were run by 62% of Windows PC owners; last month, the figure had fallen by more than half, to just 27%. Simultaneous with the decline of IE has been the rise of Chrome. The user share of Google's browser -- its share of all browsers on all operating systems -- more than doubled in the last two years, jumping from 25% in March 2015 to 59.5% last month. Along the way, Chrome supplanted IE to become the world's most-used browser... In the last 24 months, Mozilla's Firefox -- the other major browser alternative to Chrome for macOS users -- has barely budged, losing just two-tenths of a percentage point in user share. [And] in March 2015, an estimated 69% of all Mac owners used Safari to go online. But by last month, that number had dropped to 56%, a drop of 13 percentage points -- representing a decline of nearly a fifth of the share of two years prior.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hidden Backdoor Discovered In Chinese IoT Devices

Slashdot -

"A backdoor has been found in devices made by a Chinese tech firm specializing in VoIP products," reports TechRadar. An anonymous reader quotes their article: Security outfit Trustwave made the discovery of a hidden backdoor in DblTek's devices which was apparently put there to allow the manufacturer access to said hardware -- but of course, it's also open to being exploited by other malicious parties. The backdoor is in the Telnet admin interface of DblTek-branded devices, and potentially allows an attacker to remotely open a shell with root privileges on the target device. What's perhaps even more worrying is that when Trustwave contacted DblTek regarding the backdoor last autumn -- multiple times -- patched firmware was eventually released at the end of December. However, rather than removing the flaw, the vendor simply made it more difficult to access and exploit. And further correspondence with the Chinese company has apparently fallen on deaf ears. The firmware with the hole "is present on almost every GSM-to-VoIP device which DblTek makes," and Trustwave "found hundreds of these devices on the net, and many other brands which use the same firmware, so are equally open to exploit."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Underwater Pumped-Storage Hydroelectric Project Completes Its First Practical Test

Slashdot -

What if you built massive concrete spheres -- 98 feet in diameter, with 10-foot walls -- under the ocean to help generate electricity during peak periods? Slashdot reader nachtkap reports that German researchers just finished testing their 1:10-scale prototype StEnSEA: It was retrieved from Lake Constance, where it was submerged at a depth of 100 meters [328-feet] since November. The system was developed by the Fraunhofer-Institut IWES in Kassel, Germany in collaboration with its inventors... The German Trade Department and Department of Education and Research as well as the German construction company Hochtief are also involved with the project. The system's hollow concrete spheres are intended to be used in conjunction with off-shore wind-farms to serve as energy storage for peak hours. The spheres are ultimately supposed to be submerged near off-shore wind-farms and pumped free of water with excess energy. When additional energy is needed during peak hours the system goes into reverse and water rushes in, driving a turbine... At 700 meters the system has a capacity of 20MWh, with a linear capacity increase as depth increases.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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