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Has Flow-Based Programming's Time Arrived?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 10:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's go-with-the-flow department:
An anonymous reader writes "Flow-based programming keeps resurfacing lately. FBP claims to make it easier for non-programmers to build applications by stringing together transformations built by expert programmers. Many projects have already been using similar approaches for a long time, with less (or different?) hype. Is it time to take a closer look at flow-based programming? 'Clean functions – functions without side effects – are effectively pure transformations. Something comes in, something goes out, and the results should be predictable. Functions that create side effects or rely on additional inputs (say, from a database) are more complicated to model, but it’s easier to train programmers to notice that complexity when it’s considered unusual. The difficulty, of course, is that decomposing programs into genuinely independent components in a fine-grained way is difficult. Many programmers have to re-orient themselves from orthodox object-oriented development, and shift to a world in which data structures are transparent but the behavior – the transformation – is not.'"

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Grand Unifying Theory of High-Temp Superconducting Materials Proposed
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 08:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's writing-the-textbooks-of-the-future department:
An anonymous reader writes "Years of experiments on various types of high-temperature (high-Tc) superconductors — materials that offer hope for energy-saving applications such as zero-loss electrical power lines — have turned up an amazing array of complex behaviors among the electrons that in some instances pair up to carry current with no resistance, and in others stop the flow of current in its tracks. The variety of these exotic electronic phenomena is a key reason it has been so hard to identify unifying concepts to explain why high-Tc superconductivity occurs in these promising materials. Now Séamus Davis, a physicist who's conducted experiments on many of these materials at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Cornell University, and Dung-Hai Lee, a theorist at DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, postulate a set of key principles for understanding the superconductivity and the variety of 'intertwined' electronic phenomena that applies to all the families of high-Tc superconductors [full academic paper]."

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British NHS May Soon No Longer Offer Free Care
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 07:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's thanks-obama department:
An anonymous reader writes "Coinciding with challenges in the rollout of the U.S. Affordable Care Act are challenges for NHS. The Independent reports, 'A National Health Service free at the point of use will soon be "unsustainable," if the political parties do not come forward with radical plans for change before the 2015 election, top health officials have warned. Stagnant health spending combined with ever rising costs and demand mean the NHS is facing "the most challenging period in its 65-year existence," the NHS Confederation said ... In a frank assessment of the dangers faced by the health service, senior officials at the confederation say that the two years following the next general election will be pivotal in deciding whether the NHS can continue to provide free health care for all patients. "Treasury funding for the service will be at best level in real terms," they write. "Given that demand continues to rise, drugs cost more, and NHS inflation is higher than general inflation, the NHS is facing a funding gap estimated at up to £30bn by 2020."' From The Guardian: 'Our rose-tinted view of the NHS has to change.' More at the Independent, Mirror, and Telegraph."

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Why Bitcoin Boomed During the Government Shutdown
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 06:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's why-grasp-at-straws-when-you-can-mine-them department:
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Just two weeks after the Feds shuttered the Silk Road, the notorious online drug bazaar, Bitcoin prices have touched a five-month high — with a single Bitcoin fetching nearly $156 on Tokyo-based exchange Mt. Gox. Bitcoin's resiliency can no longer be denied, especially as the digital currency continued its ascendancy even against the backdrop of a U.S. government in utter disarray. At the 11th hour of the crisis, President Obama signed a bill that ended the partial government shutdown and, more importantly, raised the debt ceiling, an arbitrary limit on the amount of money the country can borrow that would have been surpassed today. If Congress had failed to reach a deal and the U.S. was unable to pay its bills, the results might have been catastrophic, eclipsing the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers five years ago, the domino that could trigger the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression."

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Myst Creators Announce Obduction
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 05:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's just-in-case-you-myst-that-style-of-game department:
vivIsel writes "Cyan, the company behind Myst, is taking another shot at an game in that vein — this time in a new game universe, with the Unreal 4 engine. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they haven't gotten a lot of traction with traditional game publishers, so they are turning to Kickstarter with a $1.1M total ask. The Kickstarter video also has some neat shots of the Cyan headquarters — which looks a bit like one of the buildings on Myst island itself."

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Should Google Get Aggressive About Monetizing Android?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 04:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'm-gonna-go-with-no department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Google's core search-advertising business is slowing down (despite an uptick in revenue and earnings for the most recent quarter) and a new report suggests that advertising ROI is much higher on iOS than Android. In light of that, it's worth asking whether Google, having dominated much of the mobile-device market with Android, will ever get around to more aggressively monetizing its mobile operating system, and what that could mean to the manufacturers that have been loading the software for free onto their hardware. If Google started charging licensing fees to manufacturers, and attempted to clamp down so that Google Play served as the only hub for Android apps (something that would definitely put it on a collision course with Amazon, which boasts its own Android app store), would it be shooting itself in the foot? Or would the rest of the ecosystem respond in a muted way, considering the sheer size of Google's power and presence?"

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Printable Smart Labels Tell You When the Milk's Gone Bad
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 04:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's if-it's-skim-it's-bad-from-the-get-go department:
chicksdaddy writes "Security Ledger brings news that the Norwegian firm, ThinFilm has successfully tested a printable electronics component that it claims is the first, fully-functional 'smart' label. The company claims its disposable Smart Sensor Label can track the temperature of perishable goods and is a 'complete closed system built from printed and organic electronics.' Smart Sensor is being marketed to pharmaceutical makers as a way to keep temperature-sensitive drugs and to food wholesalers, which can track the temperature their product is kept at throughout the supply chain. When 'critical temperature thresholds are reached, the Smart Sensor label will change to indicate that using an integrated display driver. Such labels could make it possible to easily monitor the condition of large quantities of product, keeping it safe and effective and preventing perfectly usable products from being destroyed. But the possible applications of printable electronics are huge: they can be produced for a fraction of the cost of comparable technologies because they don't need to be assembled. And, because they're flexible and paper-like, they can be deployed pretty much anywhere you can stick a label — something ThinFilm's CEO says could provide an extensible platform for the much-ballyhooed 'Internet of Things.'"

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How Science Goes Wrong
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's frankenstein's-monster,-skynet,-and-bacon-perfume department:
dryriver sends this article from the Economist:
"A simple idea underpins science: 'trust, but verify'. Results should always be subject to challenge from experiment. That simple but powerful idea has generated a vast body of knowledge. Since its birth in the 17th century, modern science has changed the world beyond recognition, and overwhelmingly for the better. But success can breed complacency. Modern scientists are doing too much trusting and not enough verifying — to the detriment of the whole of science, and of humanity. Too many of the findings that fill the academic ether are the result of shoddy experiments or poor analysis (see article). A rule of thumb among biotechnology venture-capitalists is that half of published research cannot be replicated. Even that may be optimistic. Last year researchers at one biotech firm, Amgen, found they could reproduce just six of 53 'landmark' studies in cancer research. Earlier, a group at Bayer, a drug company, managed to repeat just a quarter of 67 similarly important papers. A leading computer scientist frets that three-quarters of papers in his subfield are bunk. In 2000-10 roughly 80,000 patients took part in clinical trials based on research that was later retracted because of mistakes or improprieties. Even when flawed research does not put people's lives at risk — and much of it is too far from the market to do so — it squanders money and the efforts of some of the world's best minds. The opportunity costs of stymied progress are hard to quantify, but they are likely to be vast. And they could be rising."

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New Standard For Website Authentication Proposed: SQRL (Secure QR Login)
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 02:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's but-the-nsa-owns-your-phone department:
fsagx writes "Steve Gibson has proposed a new standard method for website authentication. The SQRL system (pronounced 'squirrel') eliminates problems inherent in traditional login techniques. The website's login presents a QR code containing the URL of its authentication service, plus a nonce. The user's smartphone signs the login URL using a private key derived from its master secret and the URL's domain name. The Smartphone sends the matching public key to identify the user, and the signature to authenticate it. It may be used alongside of traditional username/password to ease adoption."

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Visual Studio 2013 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 02:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's but-does-it-make-coffee department:
jones_supa writes "Final releases of Visual Studio 2013, .NET 4.5.1, and Team Foundation Server 2013 are now available. As part of the new release, the C++ engine implements variadic templates, delegating constructors, non-static data member initializers, uniform initialization, and 'using' aliases. The editor has seen new features, C++ improvements and performance optimizations. Support for Windows 8.1 has been enhanced and the new XAML UI Responsiveness tool and Profile Guided Optimization help to analyze responsiveness in Windows Store apps. Graphics debugging has been furthered to have better C++ AMP tools and a new remote debugger (x86, x64, ARM). As before, MSDN and DreamSpark subscribers can obtain the releases from the respective channels, and the Express edition is available zero cost for all."

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Predicting the Future of Electronics and IT by Watching Component Demand (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 01:45 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's maybe-it's-better-to-study-electrical-engineering-than-computer-science department:
A big question college students should be asking is, "What IT and electronics knowledge will be most in demand five or six years from now?" In these fast moving niches, an answer is almost impossible to come by. But what if you were one of the people who supplied raw components to the electronics industry? Wouldn't you have a better handle than most on what kind of devices and components are becoming more popular among prototypers and engineers? And wouldn't watching those trends possibly give you at least a little insight into what the future might hold? Randy Restle, Director of Applications Engineering at component supplier Digi-Key Corporation, carefully tracks orders and tries to determine what's hot and what's not. His reason for doing so is to figure out what Digi-Key should stock in coming months and years. But his insights can also be used to decide what you might want to study or -- if you're already working in the field -- what products you or your company should consider developing. Digi-Key also has an online video library where they feature new products and give ideas of what you can do with them. Even if you're not an engineer or electronics hobbyist, it's fun to see what's available but may not have hit the mass market quite yet.

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Sleep Is the Ultimate Brainwasher
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 01:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's brush-those-axons department:
sciencehabit writes "Every night since humans first evolved, we have made what might be considered a baffling, dangerous mistake. Despite the once-prevalent threat of being eaten by predators, and the loss of valuable time for gathering food, accumulating wealth, or having sex, we go to sleep. Scientists have long speculated and argued about why we devote roughly a third of our lives to sleep, but with little concrete data to support any particular theory. Now, new evidence (abstract, full text paywalled) has refreshed a long-held hypothesis: During sleep, the brain cleans itself."

During sleep, the Cerebrospinal fluid fills channels in the brain, collecting waste products. It uses a lot of energy, leading to the hypothesis that the brain can't clean up waste while also processing sensory input.

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Intel's 14nm Broadwell Delayed Because of Low Yield
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 12:31 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's physics-hates-materials-engineers department:
judgecorp writes "Intel has put back the delivery of its 14nm Broadwell desktop chip by a quarter because of a manufacturing issue, that leaves it with too high a density of defects. The problem has been fixed, says CEO Brian Krzanich, who says "This happens sometimes in development phases"."

The good news is that it is just a defect density issue. A first round of tweaks failed to increase yield, but Intel seems to think a few more improvements to the 14nm process will result in acceptable yield.

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Shutdown Cost the US Economy $24 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 11:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's congress-blames-lazy-workers department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Time Magazine reports that according to an estimate from Standard & Poor's, the government shutdown, which ended with a deal late Wednesday night after 16 days, took $24 billion out of the U.S. economy and reduced projected fourth-quarter GDP growth from 3 percent to 2.4 percent. The breakdown includes about $3.1 billion in lost government services, $152 million per day in lost travel spending, $76 million per day lost because of National Parks being shut down, and $217 million per day in lost federal and contractor wages in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area alone. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers bore the economic brunt of the shutdown but small businesses also suffered from frozen government contracts and stalled business loans. With the deal only guaranteeing government funding through January 15, the situation could grow worse. 'This is a real corrosion on the economy,' says Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics. 'If we have to go down a similar road in the near future, the costs are going to continue to add up.'"

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IsoHunt Settles With MPAA, Will Shut Down And Pay Up to $110 Million
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 11:16 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's later-found-with-knees-broken department:
hypnosec writes "The MPAA and Gary Fung, owner of IsoHunt.com, have settled their case out of court, with the torrent indexing site closing as part of the deal. The judge presiding over the MPAA vs. IsoHunt.com case, Jacqueline Chooljian, canceled the hearing which was planned after she was informed that both the parties have settled outside court. 'The website isoHunt.com today agreed to halt all operations worldwide in connection with a settlement of the major movie studios' landmark copyright lawsuit against the site and its operator Gary Fung' reads the press release."

Only a few days after the MPAA was accosted by the judge for seeking damages several times the total worth of isoHunt: "But if you strip him of all his assets — and you’re suggesting that a much lesser number of copyright infringements would accomplish that, where is the deterrence by telling the world that you took someone’s resources away because of illegal conduct entirely or 50 times over?" Still, the settlement seems unfair: The MPAA has asked the court for $110 million, when the MPAA itself admitted that isoHunt only has $5 or $6 million.

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How Many Tiny Chelyabinsk-Class Asteroids Buzz Earth?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 10:31 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's cower-in-fear department:
astroengine writes "The meteor that exploded over the Urals region of Russia in February was a violent reminder that our planet exists in a cosmic shooting gallery. Now, astronomers are focusing on these mysterious small and possibly dangerous objects in the hope of understanding what they are made of and what kind of threat they pose in the future. However, a recent paperaccepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal has identified a possible 'Achilles Heel' of visible light surveys. Using data from NEOWISE (the near-Earth object-hunting component of NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission), there appears to be a bias in visible light asteroid surveys against finding small (100 meters) dark space rocks. 'With our previous NEOWISE studies, we found that about a third of NEOs larger than 100 meters are dark. It's possible that a population of smaller dark asteroids exists, but we don't have the right sample to test that theory with what we've done so far (in this research),' NASA JPL scientist and NEOWISE principal investigator Amy Mainzer told Discovery News. 'In my opinion it is probable that a similar fraction of small NEOs are dark, but the visible surveys are biased against finding them. They do find some but not many.' On considering the impact of the small Chelyabinsk object earlier this year, it is perhaps sobering to realize that while around 90 percent of NEOs with diameters larger than 1 kilometer are thought to have been discovered, less than one percent of asteroids the size of the Chelyabinsk meteor (17-20 meters in diameter) have been detected."

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Ask Slashdot: Best Language To Learn For Scientific Computing?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 09:46 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's english-then-chinese department:
New submitter longhunt writes "I just started my second year of grad school and I am working on a project that involves a computationally intensive data mining problem. I initially coded all of my routines in VBA because it 'was there'. They work, but run way too slow. I need to port to a faster language. I have acquired an older Xeon-based server and would like to be able to make use of all four CPU cores. I can load it with either Windows (XP) or Linux and am relatively comfortable with both. I did a fair amount of C and Octave programming as an undergrad. I also messed around with Fortran77 and several flavors of BASIC. Unfortunately, I haven't done ANY programming in about 12 years, so it would almost be like starting from scratch. I need a language I can pick up in a few weeks so I can get back to my research. I am not a CS major, so I care more about the answer than the code itself. What language suggestions or tips can you give me?"

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A Thermoelectric Bracelet To Maintain a Comfortable Body Temperature
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's oh-that'll-be-satisfying department:
rtoz writes "Heating or cooling certain parts of your body — such as applying a warm towel to your forehead if you feel chilly — can help maintain your perceived thermal comfort. Using that concept, four MIT engineering students developed a thermoelectric bracelet that monitors air and skin temperature, and sends tailored pulses of hot or cold waveforms to the wrist to help maintain thermal comfort. The product is now a working prototype. And although people would use the device for personal comfort, the team says the ultimate aim is to reduce the energy consumption of buildings, by cooling and heating the individual — not the building. The team estimates that if the device stops one building from adjusting its temperature by even just 1 degree Celsius, it will save roughly 100 kilowatt-hours per month."

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Researchers Show Apple Can Read iMessages
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's leetspeak-vs-panopticon department:
Trailrunner7 writes "The Apple iMessage protocol has been shrouded in secrecy for years now, but a pair of security researchers have reverse-engineered the protocol [original analysis] and found that Apple controls the encryption key infrastructure for the system and therefore has the ability to read users' text messages–or decrypt them and hand them over at the order of a government agency. ... The researchers found that while that basic framework makes sense from a security point of view, there are a number of issues with the iMessage system. One major issue is that Apple itself controls the encryption key infrastructure use for iMessage, and has the keys for each individual user. The upshot of this is that Apple has the ability to read users' messages if it so chooses. The researchers who looked at iMessage, known as Pod2g and GG, said that there is no evidence that Apple is in fact reading users' iMessages, but it's possible that the company could. Users' AppleID passwords also are sent in clear text to the Apple servers."

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Capturing the Flag, SQLi-Style
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's slipping-one-in department:
CowboyRobot writes "Penetration tester and long-time security professional Sumit 'Sid' Siddharth has developed a real-world SQL injection sandbox simulator, and invites the public for a capture the flag event later this month. 'The only way you can understand the true impact of vulnerabilities is by practicing exploitation. Even vulnerability identification goes hand-in-hand with exploitation,' says Siddharth. 'Sometimes identifying the vulnerability is really difficult, and it's only when you know advanced exploitation techniques that you can do so. We've also put together some really nice examples where identifying the vulnerability is really difficult, and we've asked people to find the needle in the haystack because that's how websites get compromised at the end of the day,'"

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