By Soulskill from Slashdot's don't-get-cloud-with-their-cloud-pollinating-your-cloud department
Nerval's Lobster writes "Monsanto is more infamous for growing its genetically modified crops than its use of software, but a series of corporate acquisitions and a new emphasis on tech solutions has transformed it into a firm that acts more like an innovative IT vendor than an agribusiness giant. Jim McCarter (the Entrepreneur in Residence for Monsanto) recently detailed for an audience in St. Louis how the company's IT efforts are expanding. Monsanto's core projects generate huge amounts of bits, especially its genomic efforts, which are the focus of so much public attention. Other big data gobblers are the phenotypes of millions of DNA structures that describe the various biological properties of each plant, and the photographic imagery of crop fields. (All told, there are several tens of petabytes that need storage and analysis, a number that's doubling roughly every 16 months.) With all that tech muscle, the company has launched IT-based initiatives such as its FieldScripts software, which uses proprietary algorithms (fed with data from the FieldScripts Testing Network and Monsanto research) to recommend where to best plant corn hybrids. 'Just like Amazon has its recommendation engine for what book to buy, we will have our recommendations of what and how a grower should plant a particular crop,' said McCarter. 'All fields aren't uniform and shouldn't be planted uniformly either.' Despite its increasingly sophisticated use of data analytics in the name of greater crop yields, however, Monsanto faces pushback from various groups with an aversion to genetically modified food; a current ballot initiative in Washington State, for example, could result in genetically modified foods needing a label in order to go on sale here. The company has also inspired a 'March Against Monsanto,' which has been much in the news lately."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's determining-intent department
Etherwalk writes "Huang Chengqing, China's top internet security official, alleged that cyberattacks on China from people in the U.S. are as serious as those from China on the U.S. 'We have mountains of data, if we wanted to accuse the U.S., but it's not helpful in solving the problem.' Huang, however, does not necessarily attribute them to the U.S. government just because they came from U.S. soil, and he thinks Washington should extend the same courtesy. 'They advocated cases that they never let us know about. Some cases can be addressed if they had talked to us, why not let us know? It is not a constructive train of thought to solve problems.' In response to the recent theft of U.S. military designs, he replied with an observation whose obviousness is worthy of Captain Hammer: 'Even following the general principle of secret-keeping, it should not have been linked to the Internet.'"
A few experts think China's more cooperative attitude has come about precisely because the U.S. government has gone public with hacking allegations
.Read Replies (0)
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's awe-inspiring-scale department
Yesterday, Georgia Power announced that they successfully lifted the first part of the Vogtle Unit 3
containment vessel into place. From World Nuclear News: "The component — measuring almost 40 meters wide, 12 meters tall and weighing over 900 tons — was assembled on-site from pre-fabricated steel plates. The cradle for the containment vessel was put in place on the unit's nuclear island in April. The completed bottom head was raised by a heavy lift derrick and placed on the cradle on 1 June, Georgia Power announced."
Georgia Power has a pretty cool gallery
of high resolution construction photos (the bottom head
is the background on my XBMC machine). Below the fold there is a video of the crane moving the bottom head into place.Read Replies (0)
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's no-one-expected-the-hawking-quadcopter-attack department
ananyo writes "A toy quadcopter can be steered through an obstacle course by thought alone. The aircraft's pilot operates it remotely using a cap of electrodes to detect brainwaves that are translated into commands. Ultimately, the developers of the mind-controlled copter hope to adapt their technology for directing artificial robotic limbs and other medical devices."
From the paper
(PDF) abstract: "... we report a novel experiment of BCI
controlling a robotic quadcopter in three-dimensional (3D) physical space using noninvasive scalp electroencephalogram (EEG) in human subjects. We then quantify the performance of this system using metrics suitable for asynchronous BCI. Lastly, we examine the impact that the operation of a real world device has on subjects’ control in comparison to a 2D virtual cursor task. Approach. ... Individual subjects were able to accurately acquire up to 90.5% of all valid targets presented while traveling at an average straight-line speed of 0.69 m s^(1)."
This also appears to be the first time a Brain-Computer Interface was used to operate a flying device in 3D space. Also, there are several additional videos
showing people operating the quadcopter.Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's upping-the-stakes department
An anonymous reader points out a report in Wired of an American woman at a "renowned academic institution" who received targeted malware from what was most likely a foreign government
. "... analysis of [the downloader] showed that it was the same downloader that has been used in the past to install Remote Control System (RCS), a spy tool made by the Italian company Hacking Team and sold to governments." What's significant about this malware is that it is made by an Italian firm who claims they sell it only to government and law enforcement bodies, and it isn't of much use to your standard botnet operator. "The RCS tool, also known as DaVinci, records text and audio conversations from Skype, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk and MSN Messenger, among other communication applications. It also steals Web browsing history and can turn on a computer’s microphone and webcam to record conversations in a room and take photos. The tool relies on an extensive infrastructure to operate and therefore is not easily copied and passed to non-government actors outside that infrastructure to use for their own personal spy purposes, according to a Hacking Team spokesman." There's no solid proof indicating who is responsible, but the malware email contained a link to a website in Turkey. "Turkey is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance. If authorities there were behind the hack attack, it would mean that a NATO ally had attempted to spy on a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, presumably without the knowledge or approval of U.S. authorities, and for reasons that don't appear to be related to a criminal or counter-terrorism investigation."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bowling-for-scotus department
hansamurai writes with an update to a story we've been following for a while. Jeffrey Feldman is at the center of an ongoing case about whether or not crime suspects can be forced to decrypt their own hard drives. (Feldman is accused of having child pornography on his hard drives.) After initially having a federal judge say Feldman was protected
by the Fifth Amendment, law enforcement officials were able to break the encyption on one of his many seized storage devices. The decrypted contents contained child pornography, so a different judge said the direct evidence of criminal activity meant Feldman was not protected
anymore by the Fifth Amendment. Now, a third judge has granted the defense attorney's emergency motion to rescind that decision, saying Feldman is once again (still?) protected by the Fifth Amendment
. Feldman's lawyer said,"I will move heaven and earth to make sure that the war on the infinitesimal amount of child pornography that recirculates on the Internet does not eradicate the Fifth Amendment the way the war on drugs has eviscerated the Fourth Amendment. This case is going to go many rounds. Regardless of who wins the next round, the other side will appeal, invariably landing in the lap of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and quite possibly the U.S. Supreme Court. The grim reality facing our country today is one where we currently have a percentage of our population behind bars that surpasses even the heights of the gulags in Stalinist Russia. On too many days criminal lawyers lose all rounds. But for today: The Shellow Group: 1, Government: 0."Read Replies (0)
Why Your Users Hate Agile
Posted by News Fetcher on June 04 '13 at 04:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's they-prefer-strength-or-charisma department
Esther Schindler writes "What developers see as iterative and flexible, users see as disorganized and never-ending. This article discusses how some experienced developers have changed that perception. '... She's been frustrated by her Agile experiences — and so have her clients. "There is no process. Things fly all directions, and despite SVN [version control] developers overwrite each other and then have to have meetings to discuss why things were changed. Too many people are involved, and, again, I repeat, there is no process.' The premise here is not that Agile sucks — quite to the contrary — but that developers have to understand how Agile processes can make users anxious, and learn to respond to those fears. Not all those answers are foolproof. For example: 'Detailed designs and planning done prior to a project seems to provide a "safety net" to business sponsors, says Semeniuk. "By providing a Big Design Up Front you are pacifying this request by giving them a best guess based on what you know at that time — which is at best partial or incorrect in the first place." The danger, he cautions, is when Big Design becomes Big Commitment — as sometimes business sponsors see this plan as something that needs to be tracked against. "The big concern with doing a Big Design up front is when it sets a rigid expectation that must be met, regardless of the changes and knowledge discovered along the way," says Semeniuk.' How do you respond to user anxiety from Agile processes?"Read Replies (0)