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Passport Database Outage Leaves Thousands Stranded
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '14 at 03:16 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's maintenance-considered-harmful department:
linuxwrangler (582055) writes Job interviews missed, work and wedding plans disrupted, children unable to fly home with their adoptive parents. All this disruption is due to a outage involving the passport and visa processing database at the U.S. State Department. The problems have been ongoing since July 19 and the best estimate for repair is "soon."

The system "crashed shortly after maintenance."

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Why TiVo's Founders Crashed and Burned With Qplay
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '14 at 02:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's have-you-ever-even-heard-of-this? department:
Velcroman1 (1667895) writes "Michael Ramsay and Jim Barton created a revolution with TiVo, a device that challenged the notion that we had to watch TV shows when they aired. And they hoped to do it again with Qplay, a device that challenged the notion that short-form videos had to be consumed one at a time, like snacks instead of meals. Qplay streamed curated queues of short-form Internet video to your TV using a small, simple box controlled by an iPad app. So what went wrong? Unlike TiVo, the Qplay box was difficult to justify owning, and thevalue of the service itself is questionable. And as of last week, Qplay is closed."

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HP Gives OpenVMS New Life and Path To X86 Port
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '14 at 01:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's diversity-in-action department:
dcblogs (1096431) writes Hewlett-Packard has changed its direction on OpenVMS. Instead of pushing its users off the system, it has licensed OpenVMS to a new firm that plans to develop ports to the latest Itanium chips and is promising eventual support for x86 processors. Last year, HP put OpenVMS on the path to extinction. It said it would not validate the operating system to its latest hardware or produce new versions of it. The move to license the OpenVMS source code to a new entity, VMS Software Inc. (VSI), amounts to a reversal of that earlier decision. VSI plans to validate the operating system on Intel's Itanium eight-core Poulson chips by early 2015, as well as support for HP hardware running the upcoming 'Kittson' chip. It will also develop an x86 port, although it isn't specifying a timeframe. And it plans to develop new versions of OpenVMS.

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Peter Hoddie Talks About His Internet of Things Construction Kit (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '14 at 01:15 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's everything-you-own-must-now-connect-to-the-internet department:
You remember Peter Hoddie, right? He was one of the original QuickTime developers at Apple. He left in 2002 to help found a startup called Kinoma, which started life developing multimedia players and browsers for mobile devices. Kinoma was acquired in 2011 by Marvell Semiconductor, whose management kept it as a separate entity.

The latest creation from Peter and his crew is the 'Kinoma Create,' AKA the 'JavaScript-Powered Internet of Things Construction Kit.' With it, they say, you can 'quickly and easily create personal projects, consumer electronics, and Internet of Things prototypes.' EE Times mentioned it in March, and they're not the only ones to notice this product. Quite a few developers and companies are jumping on the 'Internet of Things' bandwagon, so there may be a decent -- and growing -- market for something like this. (Alternate Video Link)

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Ask Slashdot: When Is It Better To Modify the ERP vs. Interfacing It?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '14 at 12:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's which-point-in-the-chain department:
New submitter yeshuawatso writes I work for one of the largest HVAC manufacturers in the world. We've currently spent millions of dollars investing in an ERP system from Oracle (via a third-party implementor and distributor) that handles most of our global operations, but it's been a great ordeal getting the thing to work for us across SBUs and even departments without having to constantly go back to the third-party, whom have their hands out asking for more money. What we've also discovered is that the ERP system is being used for inputting and retrieving data but not for managing the data. Managing the data is being handled by systems of spreadsheets and access databases wrought with macros to turn them into functional applications. I'm asking you wise and experienced readers on your take if it's a better idea to continue to hire our third-party to convert these applications into the ERP system or hire internal developers to convert these applications to more scalable and practical applications that interface with the ERP (via API of choice)? We have a ton of spare capacity in data centers that formerly housed mainframes and local servers that now mostly run local Exchange and domain servers. We've consolidated these data centers into our co-location in Atlanta but the old data centers are still running, just empty. We definitely have the space to run commodity servers for an OpenStack, Eucalyptus, or some other private/hybrid cloud solution, but would this be counter productive to the goal of standardizing processes. Our CIO wants to dump everything into the ERP (creating a single point of failure to me) but our accountants are having a tough time chewing the additional costs of re-doing every departmental application. What are your experiences with such implementations?

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UK Government Report Recommends Ending Online Anonymity
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '14 at 11:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-you-have-a-right-to-be-forgotten department:
An anonymous reader writes with a bit of pith from TechDirt: Every so often, people who don't really understand the importance of anonymity or how it enables free speech (especially among marginalized people), think they have a brilliant idea: "just end real anonymity online." They don't seem to understand just how shortsighted such an idea is. It's one that stems from the privilege of being in power. And who knows that particular privilege better than members of the House of Lords in the UK — a group that is more or less defined by excess privilege? The Communications Committee of the House of Lords has now issued a report concerning "social media and criminal offenses" in which they basically recommend scrapping anonymity online.

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CIA Director Brennan Admits He Was Lying: CIA Really Did Spy On Congress
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '14 at 11:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's note-the-passive-voice-and-weasel-words department:
Bruce66423 (1678196) writes with this story from the Guardian: The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, issued an extraordinary apology to leaders of the US Senate intelligence committee on Thursday, conceding that the
agency employees spied on committee staff
and reversing months of furious and public denials. Brennan acknowledged that an internal investigation had found agency security personnel transgressed a firewall set up on a CIA network, called RDINet, which allowed Senate committee investigators to review agency documents for their landmark inquiry into CIA torture."
(Sen. Diane Feinstein was one of those vocally accusing the CIA of spying on Congress; Sen. Bernie Sanders has raised a similar question about the NSA.)

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PHP Finally Getting a Formal Specification
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '14 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's let-the-ossification-ceremony-commence department:
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Despite becoming one of the most widely used programming languages on the Web, PHP didn't have a formal specification — until now. Facebook engineer and PHP core contributor Sara Golemon announced the initiative at OSCON earlier this month, and an initial draft of the specification was posted Wednesday on GitHub."

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Fotopedia Is Shutting Down; Data Avallable Until August 10
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '14 at 10:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's grab-now-if-you-want-any department:
New submitter Randall Booth writes Fotopedia has sent notice to its users that it is shutting down. 'We are sorry to announce that Fotopedia is shutting down. As of August 10, 2014, Fotopedia.com will close and our iOS applications will cease to function. Our community of passionate photographers, curators and storytellers has made this a wonderful journey, and we'd like to thank you for your hard work and your contributions. We truly believe in the concept of storytelling but don't think there is a suitable business in it yet. If you submitted photos and stories to Fotopedia, your data will be available to download until August 10, 2014. After this date, all photos and data will be permanently deleted from our servers."

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iFixit Takes Apart the Oculus Rift DK2, Finds Galaxy Note 3 Display Inside
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '14 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's wait-'til-it's-handed-out-like-earphone-on-the-plane department:
An anonymous reader writes with a teardown from iFixit of the Oculus Rift Development Kit 2: "iFixit's teardown reveals lots of interesting hardware within, including 40 infrared LEDs, a well-organized motherboard, and a display panel lifted directly from a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. They also took apart the IR tracking camera for good measure."

The review is the usual iFixit blend of funny, concise and technical; they include a nice shot showing those IR sources embedded in the plastic of the frame. Why the straight-from-a-phone display? "This seems to make economical sense, since Oculus is working to ship something like 45,000 DK2s—a goodly number for a mid-development prototype, but certainly not enough to warrant a fully custom display."

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Nevada Construction Project Could Be Tesla/Panasonic Gigafactory
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '14 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's speculation-in-the-hills department:
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Earlier in the week we heard that Tesla and Panasonic had reached an agreement to build the gigafactory together, and today that became official. Now it seems that things are farther along than anyone thought. In fact, construction of the plant might already be secretly underway in Nevada. This is of course interesting as Tesla hasn't officially announced where the gigafactory will be built. Something called Project Tiger is currently underway east of Reno, and there's a lot of construction workers, heavy equipment, and a heavily guarded fenced barrier around the site. The volume of dirt being moved is 140,000 cubic yards, which matches the gigafactory dimensions given earlier this year by Tesla. Is it possible that Tesla's actually building the gigafactory before even announcing its location? It seems so, yes."

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Grad Student Rigs Cheap Alternative To $1,000 Air Purifiers In Smoggy China
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '14 at 08:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's filtration-station department:
An anonymous reader writes "University of Virginia grad student Thomas Talhelm was living in Beijing on a Fulbright Scholarship during the winter of 2012-13, when air pollution was so bad scientists likened it to a nuclear winter. Those who could afford it were resorting to an expensive solution: air filters costing up to $1,000. Talhem built his own on the cheap, getting comparable particulate count results, and has started a company that both markets the product to middle class Chinese and shows others how to DIY."

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NASA's JPL Develops Multi-Metal 3D Printing Process
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '14 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's just-use-a-photoshop-gradient department:
yyzmcleod (1534129) writes The technology to 3D print a single part from multiple materials has been around for years, but only for polymer-based additive manufacturing processes. For metals, jobs are typically confined to a single powdered base metal or alloy per object. However, researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory say they have developed a 3D printing technique that allows for print jobs to transition from one metal to another in a single object. From the article: In JPL’s technique, the build material’s composition is gradually transitioned as the print progresses. For example, the powdered build material might contain 97 percent titanium alloy and 3 percent stainless steel at the beginning of the transition. Then, in 1 percent increments between layers, the gradient progresses to 97 percent stainless steel and 3 percent Ti alloy by some defined point in the overall 3D printing process.

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"BadUSB" Exploit Makes Devices Turn "Evil"
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '14 at 07:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's thinkgeek-had-something-funnier-years-ago department:
An anonymous reader writes with s snippet from Ars Technica that should make you (even more) skeptical about plugging in random USB drives, or allowing to persons unknown physical access to you computer's USB ports : When creators of the state-sponsored Stuxnet worm used a USB stick to infect air-gapped computers inside Iran's heavily fortified Natanz nuclear facility, trust in the ubiquitous storage medium suffered a devastating blow. Now, white-hat hackers have devised a feat even more seminal—an exploit that transforms keyboards, Web cams, and other types of USB-connected devices into highly programmable attack platforms that can't be detected by today's defenses. Dubbed BadUSB, the hack reprograms embedded firmware to give USB devices new, covert capabilities. In a demonstration scheduled at next week's Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, a USB drive, for instance, will take on the ability to act as a keyboard that surreptitiously types malicious commands into attached computers. A different drive will similarly be reprogrammed to act as a network card that causes connected computers to connect to malicious sites impersonating Google, Facebook or other trusted destinations. The presenters will demonstrate similar hacks that work against Android phones when attached to targeted computers. They say their technique will work on Web cams, keyboards, and most other types of USB-enabled devices.

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Unesco Probing Star Wars Filming In Ireland
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '14 at 07:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-midichlorians-are-totally-safe department:
First time accepted submitter wijnands (874114) writes Star Wars crews have started filming on the small Irish Island of Skellig Michael. This island, listed as a Unesco world heritage site, features the remains of a 6th century monastery as well as breeding populations of puffins , manx shearwaters, storm petrels, guillemots and kittiwakes. Currently the Irish navy has deployed one vessel to maintain a 2 mile exclusion zone around the island. Unesco is now concerned about what is going on the island, which is only visited 13 times a year by tourist groups, and has asked the Irish government for an explanation.

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Nokia Buys a Chunk of Panasonic
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '14 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's genune-panaphonics-bearer-bills department:
jones_supa (887896) writes "Nokia's future as a company focused on providing network solutions, rather than mobile phones, looks to be bright. The company made big profits in the second quarter of 2014 after selling its mobile devices unit — the cornerstone of Nokia's rise in the 1990s — to Microsoft. Meanwhile Nokia has been buying up other businesses such as the Chicago-based SAC Wireless. Now Nokia is acquiring part of Panasonic's network business in an effort to boost its presence in Japan. The deal announced Thursday will give the Finnish firm control of roughly one third of Japan's mobile network market."

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Crytek USA Collapses, Sells Game IP To Other Developers
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '14 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's making-the-best-of-it department:
MojoKid (1002251) writes Game developer Crytek's problems have been detailed recently from various source, and it's now clear that it wasn't just the company's UK studios that were affected. Crytek announced today that it has officially moved development of its F2P shooter Hunt: Horrors of the Guilded Age to a German developer, ignoring the fact that the majority of the US team had apparently already quit the company. The problem? Just as in the UK, the US employees weren't getting paid. In a separate announcement, Crytek also declared that development of the Homefront series had passed entirely to developer Deep Silver. The company has stated, "On completion of the proposed acquisition, the Homefront team from Crytek's Nottingham studio would transfer their talents to Koch Media in compliance with English law and continue their hard work on upcoming shooter, Homefront: The Revolution. Both parties hope to finalize and implement a deal soon." It's hard to see this as good news for Crytek. The company can make all the noise it wants about moving from a development studio to a publisher model, but Crytek as a company was always known for two things — the CryEngine itself, adapted for a handful of titles and the Crysis series. Without those factors, what's left?

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Countries Don't Own Their Internet Domains, ICANN Says
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '14 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's do-they-meta-own-them? department:
angry tapir writes The Internet domain name for a country doesn't belong to that country — nor to anyone, according to ICANN. Plaintiffs who successfully sued Iran, Syria and North Korea as sponsors of terrorism want to seize the three countries' ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) as part of financial judgments against them. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees the Internet, says they can't do that because ccTLDs aren't even property.

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"ExamSoft" Bar Exam Software Fails Law Grads
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '14 at 02:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's until-it-happens-to-you department:
New submitter BobandMax writes ExamSoft, the management platform software that handles digital bar exam submissions for multiple states, experienced a severe technical meltdown on Tuesday, leaving many graduates temporarily unable to complete the exams needed to practice law. The snafu also left bar associations from nearly 20 states with no choice but to extend their submission deadlines.

It's not the first time, either: a classmate of mine had to re-do a state bar exam after an ExamSoft glitch on the first go-'round. Besides handling the uploading of completed exam questions, ExamSoft locks down the computer on which it runs, so Wikipedia is not an option.

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Vint Cerf on Why Programmers Don't Join the ACM
Posted by News Fetcher on July 30 '14 at 11:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's other-than-that-how-was-the-parade? department:
jfruh writes "The Association for Computing Machinery is a storied professional group for computer programmers, but its membership hasn't grown in recent years to keep pace with the industry. Vint Cerf, who recently concluded his term as ACM president, asked developers what was keeping them from signing up. Their answers: paywalled content, lack of information relevant to non-academics, and code that wasn't freely available."

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