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Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes "Britain's electronic surveillance agency, Government Communications Headquarters, has long presented its collaboration with the National Security Agency's massive electronic spying efforts as proportionate, carefully monitored, and well within the bounds of privacy laws. But according to a top-secret document in the archive of material provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, GCHQ secretly coveted the NSA's vast troves of private communications and sought 'unsupervised access' to its data as recently as last year – essentially begging to feast at the NSA's table while insisting that it only nibbles on the occasional crumb."
First time accepted submitter Valejo (689967) writes "According to a study released today by Course Report, programming bootcamps are expected to grow by 2.8x in 2014, meaning that bootcamps will graduate a student for every 8 CS undergraduates. The survey (PDF) also found that 57% of the schools teach in Ruby and that the average tuition is $9,900. The authors collected responses from 95% of US schools, including General Assembly, Dev Bootcamp, and Flatiron School."
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Science sits down with David Saltzberg, who's been The Big Bang Theory's one and only science consultant since it premiered. Saltzberg is an astrophysicist at the University of California, Los Angeles. He chats about how the portrayal of science on the show has changed over the years, whether it turns kids away from science, and how you can get your own job as a scientific consultant in Hollywood."
An anonymous reader writes "A former MIT instructor and students have come up with software that can write an entire essay in less than one second; just feed it up to three keywords.The essays, though grammatically correct and structurally sound, have no coherent meaning and have proved to be graded highly by automated essay-grading software. From The Chronicle of Higher Education article: 'Critics of automated essay scoring are a small but lively band, and Mr. Perelman is perhaps the most theatrical. He has claimed to be able to guess, from across a room, the scores awarded to SAT essays, judging solely on the basis of length. (It’s a skill he happily demonstrated to a New York Times reporter in 2005.) In presentations, he likes to show how the Gettysburg Address would have scored poorly on the SAT writing test. (That test is graded by human readers, but Mr. Perelman says the rubric is so rigid, and time so short, that they may as well be robots.).'"
Trailrunner7 (1100399) writes "It has been a running joke in the tech industry for years that the hacking scenes in movies are, well, a joke. Hackers in hoodies pushing a few keys and taking down the power grid or causing massive traffic pileups by turning all the stoplights green at once. While those scenes provide endless entertainment for security folks, it turns out some of those attacks aren't so far-fetched. Cesar Cerrudo, a researcher and CTO at IOActive, decided to take a look at the security of some of the devices that control traffic lights and electronic signs in many cites around the world, and found that not only were the devices vulnerable to a number of attacks, but they could be exploited quite easily and perhaps could be used to spread malware from device to device. Cerrudo said that the vulnerabilities he identified can be exploited from up to a mile or two away with the right equipment."
Maddog Batty (112434) writes "SpaceX recently made the news by managing to soft land at sea the first stage of rocket used to launch its third supply mission to the International Space Station. Telemetry reported that it was able to hover for eight seconds above the sea before running out of fuel and falling horizontal. Unfortunately, due to stormy weather at the time, their support ship wasn't able to get to the "landing" spot at the time and the first stage wasn't recovered and is likely now on the sea bed. Video of the landing was produced and transmitted to an aeroplane but unfortunately it is rather corrupted. SpaceX have attempted to improve it but it isn't much better. They are now looking for help to improve it further."
cartechboy writes: "While electric cars are now more available than ever, combustion engines will remain for decades to come. Now auto engineers are working to refine combustion power as part of cars that are increasingly electrified, including plug-in hybrids. Toyota's new 'Free Piston Engine Linear Generator' (or FPEG) shows us one potential way. Linear engines eliminate the rotating crankshaft of conventional engines in favor of a single chamber, in which a piston moves forward and backward. A linear engine has no crankshaft, nor connecting rods. In their place is a gas-filled chamber, the compression of which functions like a spring — returning the piston after the expansion / combustion phases of a typical combustion cycle. This back-and-forth motion can be turned into energy, when you haven't got a crankshaft and the mechanically-useful rotation it produces. While linear engines are far from new, and Toyota's test units are only 10 kW (13 horsepower), a pair of them can still produce enough electricity for a Yaris- or Corolla-sized vehicle to cruise on the highway at 75 mph."
MojoKid writes: "Google's open source Android platform has the distinction of being the most popular mobile operating system in the world. That's great in terms of dominating the market and reaping the rewards that come with it, but it's also for that very reason that Android finds itself the target of virtually every new mobile malware threat that emerges. According to data published in F-Secure's latest Mobile Threat Report (PDF), over 99 percent of the new mobile threats it discovered in the first quarter of 2014 targeted Android users. To be fair, we're not taking about hundreds of thousands, tens of thousands, or thousands of malware threats — F-Secure detected 277 new threat families, of which 275 honed in on Android."
An anonymous reader writes "If you play games online against other people, chances are you've come up against somebody who's obviously cheating. Wall hacks, aimbots, map hacks, item dupes — you name it, and there will always be a small (but annoying) segment of the gaming population who does it. Many of these cheating methods are bought and sold online, and PCGamer has done some investigative reporting to show us rule-abiding types how it all works. A single cheat-selling website manages to pull in $300,000 a year, and it's one of many. The people running the site aren't worried about their business drying up, either — game developers quickly catch 'rage cheaters,' and players cheating to be seen, but they have a much harder time detecting the 'closet cheaters' who hide it well. Countermeasures like PunkBuster and VAC are sidestepped quickly and easily."
redletterdave writes: "April was National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Unfortunately, the recognition of this month for distracted driving was a hollow gesture — just like the half-hearted attempts at developing apps that prevent cell phone use while driving. After a week of trying to find an app that prevents me from all cell phone use from behind the wheel entirely, I've given up. The Distracted Driving Foundation lists about 25 apps on its website — there are a few more on Apple's App Store — but I couldn't find a single one that was easy to use. Most were either defunct, required onerous sign-up processes, asked for subscription plans, or simply didn't work as advertised."
ananyo writes: "Robert Grosseteste, an English scholar who lived from about 1175 to 1253, was the first thinker in northern Europe to try to develop unified physical laws to explain the origin and form of the geocentric medieval universe of heavens and Earth. Tom McLeish, professor of physics and pro-vice-chancellor for research at Britain's Durham University, and a multinational team of researchers found that Grosseteste's physical laws were so rigorously defined that they could be re-expressed using modern mathematical and computing techniques — as the medieval scholar might have done if he had been able to use such methods. The thinking went that the translated equations could then be solved and the solutions explored. The 'Ordered Universe Project' started six years ago and has now reported some of its findings. Only a small set of Grosseteste's parameters resulted in the "ordered" medieval universe he sought to explain, the researchers found; most resulted either in no spheres being created or a 'disordered' cosmos of numerous spheres. Grosseteste, then, had created a medieval 'multiverse.' De Luce suggests that the scholar realized his theories could result in universes with all manner of spheres, although he did not appear to realize the significance of this. A century later, philosophers Albert of Saxony and Nicole Oresme both considered the idea of multiple worlds and how they might exist simultaneously or in sequence."
The Bad Astronomer writes: "Astronomers have just announced that the exoplanet Beta Pic b — a 10-Jupiter-mass world 60 light years away — rotates in about 8 hours. Using a high-resolution spectrometer and exploiting the Doppler shift of light seen as the planet spins, they measured its rotation velocity as 28,000 mph. Making reasonable assumptions about the planet's size, that gives the length of its day. This is the first time such a measurement has been achieved for an exoplanet."
ConstantineM writes: "What has been planned for a long time now, prior to the infamous heartbleed fiasco of OpenSSL (which does not affect SSH at all), is now officially a reality — with the help of some recently adopted crypto from DJ Bernstein, OpenSSH now finally has a compile-time option to no longer depend on OpenSSL. `make OPENSSL=no` has now been introduced for a reduced configuration OpenSSH to be built without OpenSSL, which would leave you with no legacy SSH-1 baggage at all, and on the SSH-2 front with only AES-CTR and chacha20+poly1305 ciphers, ECDH/curve25519 key exchange and Ed25519 public keys."
Go to Stop the Secrecy.net and you'll see that this is something that requires action now, not someday, It's about the TPP, or Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that could place major restrictions on how we use the Internet. This is far from the only attack on Internet freedom we need to fight against, just one the EFF (and others) feel is one of the worst ones in play right now. Mild-mannered Steve Anderson, founder and Executive Director of OpenMedia.ca, is today's interview guest. He's Canadian, but OpenMedia.ca doesn't stop at Canada's southern border. Steve and the rest of the group want U.S. citizens to have the same Internet freedoms they want Canadians to have -- as well as people all over the world, because Internet balkanization hurts all Internet users. Including you. And worse, this is not the only problem with the TPP. Did you notice, in the TPP link above (to Wikipedia), that parts of this trade agreement are secret? So even if you want to protest against it, you might end up holding a sign that's mostly blank. This is a "Call your Congressional representatives" situation. Unless you're in Canada, in which case it's a "Call your Member of Parliament" situation. Ditto if you're in another TPP country. In any case, it's going to take a lot of calls, letters, emails, and faxes from people like us to overcome some of the heavy money that wants the TPP to go through. (Alternate video link.)
samzenpus (5) writes "Ben Starr is a chef, travel writer, reality TV star, wine and beer brewer, cheesemaker, and ultimate food geek. Ben traveled all 7 continents in his early 20s, staying with local families and learning to cook the cuisines of the world in home kitchens and local markets. FRANK, his underground Dallas restaurant, has a waitlist of 3,000 and reservations are selected by random lottery. He is a passionate local and sustainable food advocate. Ben is a flag waver for the new generation of chefs who embrace modern technology, and his Camp Potluck feeds hundreds of hungry Burning Man attendees every year. Ben has agreed to put down his chef's knife and answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post."
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Jeffrey Katzenberg, the head of Dreamworks Animation, speaking at the Milken Global Conference in California, opined that the future pricing model for movie downloads will revolve around screen size. In his view, larger screens will incur larger download prices. As he says, 'It will reinvent the enterprise of movies.' Unclear is how physical dimensions, rather than just resolution matrix, will be determined. Will we soon be saying 'hello' to screen spoofing?" Can you fake the physical dimensions reported in the EDID block when the connection is using HDCP? Aside from the implication that this would mean more DRM (and seems pretty unworkable, but with the rise of locked bootloaders on even x86 hardware...), the prices he predicts seem alright: "A movie screen will be $15. A 75-inch TV will be $4. A smartphone will be $1.99."
jfruh (300774) writes "U.S. retailers must accept chip-and-pin charge cards by the end of 2015 or become liable for fraudulent purchases made with chip cards. Target, still smarting from its recent embarrassing security breach, is moving to get ahead of that trend. The company will be installing chip-and-pin terminals in all its stores, and will also be issuing chip-and-pin versions of its own branded cards, which account for about 20 percent of Target sales. Will this move by a huge retailer push the U.S. into parity with the rest of the world?"
theodp (442580) writes "Simon Allardice takes a stroll down coding memory lane, recalling that when he got started in programming in 1983, hand-writing one's programs with pencil on IBM coding sheets was still considered good enough for British government work (COBOL, Assembler forms). Allardice writes, 'And when you were finished handwriting a section of code — perhaps a full program, perhaps a subroutine — you'd gather these sheets together (carefully numbered in sequence, of course) and send them along to the folks in the data entry department. They'd type it in. And the next day you'd get a report to find out if it compiled or not. Let me say that again: the next day you could find out if your code compiled or not.' So, does anyone have 'fond' memories of computer programming in the punched card era? And for you young'uns, what do you suppose your C++ or Java development times would be like if you got one compile a day?" The other way you could program in 1983.
UnknowingFool (672806) writes "In a pair of unanimous rulings yesterday, the Supreme Court made it easier for defendants in patent cases to collect attorneys fees if the litigation was frivolous. In the first case, Octane Fitness v. Icon Health & Fitness, the court ruled that a standard used by lower courts to award attorney's fees was impossible to meet. The original standard under Brooks Furniture Mfg., Inc. v. Dutailier Int'l, Inc. had ruled that a claim had to be both 'objectively baseless' and 'brought in subjective bad faith' before fees could be awarded. The high court ruled that fees should be awarded merely when the case is 'exceptional' and not when the defendant must prove there was zero merit.
In the second case, Highmark v. Allcare Health Management, the Supreme Court also noted the 'exceptional' standard in reversing the appellate court's decision but specifically ruled that appellate courts should give more deference to the lower courts on rulings of fact. In Highmark, the district court found that Allcare had engaged in a pattern of 'vexatious' and 'deceitful' conduct throughout the litigation and awarded fees. The appellate court while agreeing with the lower court about part of the case reversed the fees in their de novo review of the case. In de novo reviews, the court case is essentially retried with the higher court. The Supreme Court iterated that de novo reviews should be done typically for 'questions of law' and reviews on 'questions of fact' are done if there are clear errors with decisions on matters of discretion 'reviewable for "abuse of discretion."' In other words, the appellate courts can review a case if a lower court has not correctly interpreted law; however, they should not retry a lower case on facts unless the lower court made a clear error. Also unless the lower court abused their power in some way, the appellate court should not review their final decisions.
For example, if a person is tried for murder, an appellate court could rule that a district court misinterpreted a statute about sentencing if the person if found guilty. The appellate court should not retry the facts of the case unless the lower court had made a clear error like ruling that there was a DNA match when there was not. Also an appellate court should not reverse the lower court if they sentenced the person to a reasonable time. Now if the district court sentenced the person to 400 years for one murder, then the appellate court should intervene.
In effect the two rulings make it easier for companies to recover money should they be sued in frivolous patent lawsuits. This would make the risks greater for those who sue."
An anonymous reader writes "Red Hat announced their pending acquisition of Inktank this morning. Sage Weil and a team of researchers at University of California Santa Cruz first published the architecture in 2007. Sage joined DreamHost after college and continued development on Ceph until DreamHost spun off a Inktank, a company focused solely on Ceph. In Sage's blog post on the acquisition, he says 'In particular, joining forces with the Red Hat team will improve our ability to address problems at all layers of the storage stack, including in the kernel.' Sage goes on to announce that Inktank's proprietary management tools for Ceph will now be open sourced, citing Red Hat's pure open source development and business models.
Ceph has seen wide adoption in OpenStack customer deployments, alongside Red Hat's existing Gluster system." Ceph looks pretty cool if you're doing serious storage: CERN has a 3 Petabyte "prototype" cluster in use now (Only tangentially related, but still interesting, is how CERN does storage in general).
New submitter Raystonn (1463901) writes "Bloomberg has announced the release of Bitcoin support in their trading terminals, used worldwide by over 320,000 trading professionals. The market makers of the world will now have instant access to immediate Bitcoin prices on an industry-standard trading platform. This places the virtual currency before the eyes of the movers and shakers of most of the world's money supply as they decide where to invest their USD holdings."
profBill (98315) writes "Way back in 2002, Slashdot ran a story asking what people thought about C++ and the STL. Well, it's 2014 and C++11 is well out there with C++14 on its way.
I teach a second programming course in C++ with a heavy emphasis on the STL (containers and generic algorithms). I just wondered what people think about the situation today. Personally, I think C++11 has cleaned up a lot of problems, making it easier to use, but given all those who work with C++ for a living, I wondered what they thought today compared to then. Are people using C++11? Does it matter at all? I'd love to share the responses with my students! They are always curious about what practitioners are doing these days."
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "The state of Oklahoma had scheduled two executions for Tuesday, April 29th. This in spite of myriad objections that the drugs being used for both lethal injections had not been tested, and thus could violate the constitutional right to the courts, as well as the 8th Amendment: protection from cruel and unusual punishment. After much legal and political wrangling, the state proceeded with the executions anyway. It soon became clear that the critics' worst case scenarios were coming true — Oklahoma violently botched the first execution. The inmate "blew" a vein and had a heart attack. The state quickly postponed the second one. 'After weeks of Oklahoma refusing to disclose basic information about the drugs for tonight's lethal injection procedures, tonight, Clayton Lockett was tortured to death,' Madeline Cohen, the attorney of Charles Warner, the second man scheduled for execution, said in a statement. Katie Fretland at The Guardian reported from the scene of the botched attempt to execute Lockett using the untested, unvetted, and therefore potentially unconstitutional lethal injection drugs." sciencehabit also points out a study indicating that around 4% of death row inmates in the U.S. are likely innocent.
curtwoodward (2147628) writes "Amazon is well-established as an e-commerce and cloud computing pioneer. So why do its ambitions include a bigger push into consumer electronics, including a long-rumored leap into the very competitive smartphone market? In a word, control — of data, consumer profiles, and royalties on purchases."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Reuters reports that U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White told a U.S. House of Representatives panel that she flatly rejected claims that retail investors are being fleeced by high-frequency traders who can use their speed to jump ahead with buy and sell orders that fetch better prices. 'The markets are not rigged,' says White. 'The U.S. markets are the strongest and most reliable in the world.' White's comments to the House Financial Services Committee mark the first time she has directly responded to allegations in Michael Lewis' new book Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt. The book alleges that high-speed traders are engaged in a form of front-running, in which the firms are able to quickly identify an investor's desire to buy a stock, rush to buy it first and then sell it back at a higher price. The SEC has been reviewing equity market structure issues, particularly following the May 6, 2010 flash crash incident when the Dow Jones Industrial Average sharply plunged before quickly rebounding. Although staff at SEC are considering whether to launch some pilot studies to test different regulatory proposals, there are no immediate plans to issue rules to crack down on high-speed trading or trading in unlit markets. 'I want to be very clear that the market metrics suggest that the retail investor is very well-served by the current market structure.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Virtual reality tech is getting a ton of attention for what it can do to video games. But the technology itself isn't limited to games — just as Kinect was hijacked and used for myriad other purposes, so will VR be broadly adapted. This article goes into some of the applications: 'An elderly woman in a retirement home recently used an Oculus to explore a garden and walk stairs again. This simple environment brought her to tears. Work is also being done to help PTSD sufferers deal with their trauma by replicating the scene within virtual reality and there is great interest in using a similar approach for other conditions like amnesia, Alzheimer's and dementia. ... It's now possible for museum spaces and schools to teleport students to specific moments in history, to allow them to experience being executed by a guillotine, take tours of space or even explore the depths of the ocean.' What other VR uses can you foresee?"
An anonymous reader writes "After many years I now have a backup of all my digital data in (at least) two physical locations. But what do people recommend to back up my physical data? And then how to prove my identity? I call it the 'gas leak problem,' because a gas leak in my town caused an explosion that leveled a house. If it had been my house, it would have destroyed all my paperwork that proves who I am. If I'd come home from work and found my house was now a pile of rubble, how would I prove I lived there, knowing my key no longer fits the smoldering lock? If I'd left my wallet at home, my bank cards would have been destroyed so I couldn't withdraw money or book into a hotel. Or if I'd left my phone at the office, I wouldn't know anyone's number to call, or get anyone to vouch for me. What preventative steps can you take? Since having this nightmare, I've exported my phone's VCF file to an online repo, made online notes of all my bank account numbers and passport ID, I keep ICE numbers with me at all times (separate from phone/wallet), and I've hidden a spare mobile phone and house key in a box in a nearby field. But there must be more to do!"
An anonymous reader writes "Ars has reviewed an AMD-powered mini gaming rig made by Gigabyte. The box itself is small and solid, and it runs a pretty beefy video card for its size. The manufacturer even claims Linux support, though the device ships with Windows 8.1. Unfortunately, reality lags a bit behind their plans — Ubuntu boots OK, but driver support is a mess. SteamOS won't run at all. The box is also limited by a mediocre CPU, which is itself limited by heat and power constraints. The review says the machine was 'intriguing and frustrating in equal measure' because 'its ambition is rarely matched by its execution.' It concludes: 'With some time and some different components, a little desktop that can deliver a great gaming experience will surely follow.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Those of us who spend our days sitting in front of a screen trying to make computers do our bidding know how difficult programming can be. But from an outside perspective, there's not much to indicate difficulty. Most of us have heard somebody compare our job to digging ditches, or some other manual labor, meant to contrast easy (sitting around and typing) versus hard (muscle-wearying work). Now, Peter Welch has written an amusing essay to help combat that point of view, titled Programming Sucks. He compares bridge building to a big software project. Here's a small part of it:
'You start by meeting Mary, project leader for a bridge in a major metropolitan area. Mary introduces you to Fred, after you get through the fifteen security checks installed by Dave because Dave had his sweater stolen off his desk once and Never Again. Fred only works with wood, so you ask why he's involved because this bridge is supposed to allow rush-hour traffic full of cars full of mortal humans to cross a 200-foot drop over rapids. Don't worry, says Mary, Fred's going to handle the walkways. What walkways? Well Fred made a good case for walkways and they're going to add to the bridge's appeal. Of course, they'll have to be built without railings, because there's a strict no railings rule enforced by Phil, who's not an engineer. ... Would you drive across this bridge? No. If it somehow got built, everybody involved would be executed. Yet some version of this dynamic wrote every single program you have ever used, banking software, websites, and a ubiquitously used program that was supposed to protect information on the internet but didn't.' Welch goes on to gripe about all the ways in which programming is almost awesome, but ends up being annoying."