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PC Sales See 'Longest Decline' In History
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '13 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's demand-elasticity-and-substitution department:
dryriver writes "Global personal computer (PC) sales have fallen for the fifth quarter in a row, making it the 'longest duration of decline' in history. Worldwide PC shipments totalled 76 million units in the second quarter, a 10.9% drop from a year earlier, according to research firm Gartner. PC sales have been hurt in recent years by the growing popularity of tablets. Gartner said the introduction of low-cost tablets had further hurt PC sales, especially in emerging economies. 'In emerging markets, inexpensive tablets have become the first computing device for many people, who at best are deferring the purchase of a PC,' said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said in a statement."

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Microsoft Reveals Its 3D Printing Strategy For Windows 8.1
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '13 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's chip-on-shoulder-view-of-the-world department:
colinneagle writes "At the Inside 3D Printing conference in Chicago, Microsoft senior product manager Jesse McGatha discussed why Microsoft recently announced that Windows 8.1 will support 3D printing, even giving a demo of a sample app for printing a design file. But in the presentation it became clear that Microsoft is capitalizing on the recent hype of 3D printing and positioning itself to capitalize on the future consumer markets for 3D printing. However, a Gartner analyst recently warned that 3D printing may not become the household consumer item that some are making it out to be. So, by capitalizing on the buzz, Microsoft may attract makers, innovators, and even enterprise customers that use 3D printing, but avoids any risk if the consumer market fails to reach its potential."

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Spanish Chatbot Hunts For Pedophiles
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '13 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's how-do-you-feel-about-justin-bieber department:
cylonlover writes "For a number of years now, police forces around the world have enlisted officers to pose as kids in online chat rooms, in an attempt to draw out pedophiles and track them down. Researchers at Spain's University of Deusto are now hoping to free those cops up for other duties, and to catch more offenders, via a chatbot that they've created. Its name is Negobot, and it plays the part of a 14 year-old girl."

(Read the original source, in Spanish).

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How Do You Get Better Bug Reports From Users?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '13 at 04:31 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's that's-a-feature department:
itwbennett writes "You can try to train them, you can try to streamline or automate the process, you can demand that all bug reports go through a middleman (i.e., a QA tester) or you can throw up your hands and accept that users will forever submit bug reports that in no way help you solve the problem. Like the stages of grief, you've probably tried or experienced all of these at some point. But have you found any approach that really works for getting useful bug reports from your users?"

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Dropbox Wants To Replace Your Hard Disk
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '13 at 04:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we-got-this department:
Barence writes "Dropbox has kicked off its first developer conference with the stated goal of replacing the hard disk. 'We are replacing the hard drive,' said Dropbox CEO Drew Houston. 'I don't mean that you're going to unscrew your MacBook and find a Dropbox inside, but the spiritual successor to the hard drive is what we're launching.' The new Dropbox Platform includes tools for developers that will allow them to use Dropbox to sync app data between devices. The company's new APIs will also make it easier for app developers to include plugins that save to Dropbox, or choose files stored in the service for use within apps."

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DEF CON Advises Feds Not To Attend Conference
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '13 at 02:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's and-stay-out department:
tsu doh nimh writes "One of the more time-honored traditions at DEF CON — the massive hacker convention held each year in Las Vegas — is 'Spot-the-Fed,' a playful and mostly harmless contest to out undercover government agents that attend the show each year. But that game might be a bit tougher when the conference rolls around again next month: In an apparent reaction to recent revelations about far-reaching U.S. government surveillance programs, DEF CON organizers are asking feds to just stay away: 'I think it would be best for everyone involved if the feds call a âtime-outâ(TM) and not attend DEF CON this year,' conference organizer Jeff Moss wrote in a short post at Defcon.org. Krebsonsecurity writes that after many years of mutual distrust, the hacker community and the feds buried a lot of their differences in the wake of 911, with the director of NSA even delivering the keynote at last year's conference. But this year? Spot the fed may just turn into hack-the-fed."

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Data Storage That Could Outlast the Human Race
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '13 at 11:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's built-to-last department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Just in case you haven't been keeping up with the latest in five-dimensional digital data storage using femtocell-laser inscription, here's an update: it works. A team of researchers at the University of Southampton have demonstrated a way to record and retrieve as much as 360 terabytes of digital data onto a single disk of quartz glass in a way that can withstand temperatures of up to 1000 C and should keep the data stable and readable for up to a million years. 'It is thrilling to think that we have created the first document which will likely survive the human race,' said Peter Kazansky, professor of physical optoelectronics at the Univ. of Southampton's Optical Research Centre. 'This technology can secure the last evidence of civilization: all we've learnt will not be forgotten.' Leaving aside the question of how many Twitter posts and Facebook updates really need to be preserved longer than the human species, the technology appears to have tremendous potential for low-cost, long-term, high-volume archiving of enormous databanks. The quartz-glass technique relies on lasers pulsing one quadrillion times per second though a modulator that splits each pulse into 256 beams, generating a holographic image that is recorded on self-assembled nanostructures within a disk of fused-quartz glass. The data are stored in a five-dimensional matrix—the size and directional orientation of each nanostructured dot becomes dimensions four and five, in addition to the usual X, Y and Z axes that describe physical location. Files are written in three layers of dots, separated by five micrometers within a disk of quartz glass nicknamed 'Superman memory crystal' by researchers. (Hitachi has also been researching something similar.)"

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No US College In Top 10 For ACM International Programming Contest 2013
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '13 at 10:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we're-number-one-sometimes department:
michaelmalak writes "The annual ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest finished up last week for 2013, but for the first time since its inception in the 1970's, no U.S. college placed in the top 10. Through 1989, a U.S. college won first place every year, but there has been one in first place since 1997. The U.S. college that has won most frequently throughout the contest's history, Stanford, hasn't won since 1991. The 2013 top 10 consists entirely of colleges from Eastern Europe, East Asia, and India."

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50-Year-Old Assumptions About Muscle Strength Tossed Aside
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '13 at 09:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's pump-you-up department:
vinces99 writes "The basics of how a muscle generates power remain the same: Filaments of myosin tugging on filaments of actin shorten, or contract, the muscle – but the power doesn't just come from what's happening straight up and down the length of the muscle, as has been assumed for 50 years. Instead, new research shows that as muscles bulge, the filaments are drawn apart from each other, the myosin tugs at sharper angles over greater distances, and it's that action that deserves credit for half the change in muscle force scientists have been measuring."

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Dropbox Wants To Replace Your Hard Disk
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '13 at 07:01 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we-got-this department:
Barence writes "Dropbox has kicked off its first developer conference with the stated goal of replacing the hard disk. 'We are replacing the hard drive,' said Dropbox CEO Drew Houston. 'I don't mean that you're going to unscrew your MacBook and find a Dropbox inside, but the spiritual successor to the hard drive is what we're launching.' The new Dropbox Platform includes tools for developers that will allow them to use Dropbox to sync app data between devices. The company's new APIs will also make it easier for app developers to include plugins that save to Dropbox, or choose files stored in the service for use within apps."

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Global Study Stresses Importance of Public Internet Access
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '13 at 04:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's these-tubes-are-your-tubes department:
vinces99 writes "Millions of people in low-income countries still depend on public computer and Internet access venues despite the global proliferation of mobile phones and home computers. However, interest in providing such public access has waned in recent years, especially among development agencies, as new technologies become available. But a five-year, eight-country study recently concluded by researchers at the University of Washington Information School has found that community access to computer and Internet technology remains a crucial resource for connecting people to the information and skills they need in an increasingly digital world. The Global Impact Study of Public Access to Information & Communication Technologies surveyed 5,000 computer users at libraries, telecenters and cybercafés and 2,000 nonusers at home to learn about patterns of public access use. The researchers also surveyed 1,250 operators of public access venues and conducted seven in-depth case studies to examine issues that have generated controversy. The study was conducted in eight low- and middle-income countries on three continents: Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Ghana, Lithuania, Philippines and South Africa."

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Android Co-Founder: Fragmentation "an Overblown Issue"
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '13 at 03:46 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's take-it-easy department:
curtwoodward writes "Sure, developers might pull their hair out trying to keep track of all the versions of the Android operating system scattered across hundreds of millions of mobile devices worldwide. But a co-founder of Android says the OS's fragmentation problem is being blown out of proportion. At an event this week in Boston, Rich Miner — now a partner at Google Ventures — said some level of fragmentation is inevitable with Android's reach and the number of partners in the ecosystem. But things are getting better, he said, and in any case most consumers don't notice the difference: `This is a bit of an overblown issue, frankly.'"

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NASA Wants To Bring Back Hunks of Mars In Future Unmanned Mission
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '13 at 03:16 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's live-at-red-rocks department:
coondoggie writes "The space missions to Mars have so far been one way — satellites and robotic rovers have all gone there to stay. NASA, as part a of a new, ambitious Mars visit, wants to change that by sending a rover to the surface of the Red Planet which can dig up chunks of the surface and send them back to Earth for highly detailed examination. These plans were laid out in a lengthy report outlining mission plans for Mars that will be acted upon over the next decade. It says a retrieval mission 'could occur as early as the mid-2020s or wait until the 2030s.'"

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Why JavaScript On Mobile Is Slow
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '13 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-blame-the-schools department:
An anonymous reader writes "Drew Crawford has a good write up of the current state of JavaScript in mobile development, and why the lack of explicit memory handling (and a design philosophy that ignores memory issues) leads to massive garbage collection overhead, which prevents HTML5/JS from being deployed for anything besides light duty mobile web development. Quoting: 'Here’s the point: memory management is hard on mobile. iOS has formed a culture around doing most things manually and trying to make the compiler do some of the easy parts. Android has formed a culture around improving a garbage collector that they try very hard not to use in practice. But either way, everybody spends a lot of time thinking about memory management when they write mobile applications. There’s just no substitute for thinking about memory. Like, a lot. When JavaScript people or Ruby people or Python people hear "garbage collector," they understand it to mean "silver bullet garbage collector." They mean "garbage collector that frees me from thinking about managing memory." But there’s no silver bullet on mobile devices. Everybody thinks about memory on mobile, whether they have a garbage collector or not. The only way to get "silver bullet" memory management is the same way we do it on the desktop–by having 10x more memory than your program really needs.'"

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The Pentagon's Seven Million Lines of Cobol
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '13 at 01:31 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's lords-of-cobol-hear-my-prayers department:
MrMetlHed writes "A portion of this Reuters article about the Pentagon's inability to manage paying soldiers properly mentions that their payroll program has 'seven million lines of Cobol code that hasn't been updated.' It goes on to mention that the documentation has been lost, and no one really knows how to update it well. In trying to replace the program, the Pentagon spent a billion dollars and wasn't successful."

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Ask Slashdot: Development Requirements Change But Deadlines Do Not?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '13 at 01:31 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's anonymous-emails-and-heavy-drinking department:
cyclomedia writes "Over a number of years my company has managed to slowly shift from a free-for-all (pick a developer at random and get them to do what you want) to something resembling Agile development with weekly builds. But we still have to deal with constant incoming feature changes and requests that are expected to be included in this week's package. The upshot is that builds are usually late, not properly tested and developers get the flak when things go wrong. I suspect the answer is political, but how do we make things better? One idea I had was that every time a new request comes in — no matter how small — the build gets pushed back by 24 or even 48 hours. I'd love to hear your ideas or success stories. (Unfortunately, quitting is not an option)"

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Dwarf Planet Ahoy! Spacecraft Spies Pluto and Charon
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '13 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'm-way-too-excited-for-this-probe-to-reach-pluto department:
astroengine writes "As NASA's New Horizons probe powers through interplanetary space, it's keeping a careful eye forward, watching its target gradually loom larger on the proverbial celestial horizon. But earlier this month the spacecraft spotted something right next to Pluto — a pixelated Charon, the dwarf planet's largest moon. 'The image itself might not look very impressive to the untrained eye, but compared to the discovery images of Charon from Earth, these 'discovery' images from New Horizons look great!' said New Horizons Project Scientist Hal Weaver, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD. 'We're very excited to see Pluto and Charon as separate objects for the first time from New Horizons.'"

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How DRM Won
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '13 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's subliminal-messages-in-all-those-FBI-warnings department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "In 2009, when Apple dropped the Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions from songs sold through the iTunes Store, it seemed like a huge victory for consumers, one that would usher in a more customer-friendly economy for digital media. But four years later, DRM is still alive and well — it just lives in the cloud now. Streaming media services are the ultimate form of copy protection — you never actually control the media files, which are encrypted before delivery, and your ability to access the content can be revoked if you disagree with updated terms of service; you're also subject to arbitrary changes in subscription prices. This should be a nightmare scenario to lovers of music, film, and television, but it's somehow being hailed by many as a technical revolution. Unfortunately, what's often being lost in the hype over the admittedly remarkable convenience of streaming media services is the simple fact that meaningfully relating to the creative arts as a fan or consumer depends on being able to access the material in the first place. In other words, where your media collection is stored (and can be remotely disabled at a whim) is not something to be taken lightly. In this essay, developer Vijith Assar talks about how the popularity of streaming content could result in a future that isn't all that great. 'Ultimately, regardless of the delivery mechanism, the question is not one of streaming versus downloads,' he writes. 'It's about whether you want to have your own media library or request access to somebody else's. Be careful.'"

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India To Overtake US On Number of Developers By 2017
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '13 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's america-projected-to-maintain-lead-in-professional-Whopper-eaters department:
dcblogs writes "There are about 18.2 million software developers worldwide, a number that is due to rise to 26.4 million by 2019, a 45% increase, says Evans Data Corp. in its latest Global Developer Population and Demographic Study. Today, the U.S. leads the world in software developers, with about 3.6 million. India has about 2.75 million. But by 2018, India will have 5.2 million developers, a nearly 90% increase, versus 4.5 million in the U.S., a 25% increase though that period, Evans Data projects. India's software development growth rate is attributed, in part, to its population size, 1.2 billion, and relative youth, with about half the population under 25 years of age. Rapid economic growth is fueling interest in development. India's services firms hire, in many cases, thousands of new employees each quarter. Consequently, IT and software work is seen as clear path to the middle class for many of the nation's young. For instance, in one quarter this year, Tata Consultancy Services added more than 17,000 employees, gross, bringing its total headcount to 263,600. In the same quarter of 2010, the company had about 150,000 workers."

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Book Review: Assessing Vendors
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '13 at 11:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it department:
benrothke writes "Every organization has external software, hardware and 3rd-party vendors they have to deal with. In many cases, these vendors will have direct access to the corporate networks, confidential and proprietary data and more. Often the software and hardware solutions are critical to the infrastructure and security of the organization. If the vendors don't have effective information security and privacy controls in place, your data is at risk. In addition, when selecting a product to secure your organization, how do you ensure that you are selecting the correct product? All of this is critical in the event of a breach. When the lawyers start circling, they will be serving subpoenas to your company, not your 3rd-party vendors." Keep reading for Ben's review. Assessing Vendors: A Hands-On Guide to Assessing Infosec and IT Vendors
author Josh More
pages 94
publisher Syngress
rating 8/10
reviewer Ben Rothke
ISBN 978-0124096073
summary Good intro to use to start a vendor assessment program

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