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Software-Defined Data Centers: Seeing Through the Hype
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '13 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's mashing-up-jargon department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "In case you didn't catch it yesterday, AllThingsD ran a piece endorsing the idea of the software-defined data center. That's a venue where hordes of non-technical mid- and upper-level managers will see it and (because of the credibility of AllThingsD) will believe software-defined data centers are not only possible, but that they exist and that your company is somehow falling behind because you personally have not sketched up a topology on a napkin or brought a package of it to install. If mid-level managers in your datacenter or extended IT department have not been pinged at least once today by business-unit managers offering to tip them off to the benefits of software-defined data centers—or demand that they buy one—then someone should go check the internal phone system because not all the calls are coming through. Why was AllThingD's piece problematic? First, because it's a good enough publication to explain all the relevant technology terms in ways that even a non-technical audience can understand. Second, it's also a credible source, owned by Dow Jones & Co. and spun off by The Wall Street Journal. Third, software-defined data centers are genuinely happening—but it's in the very early stages. The true benefits of the platform won't arrive for quite some time—and there's too much to do in the meantime to talk about potential endpoints. Fortunately, there are a number of resources online to help tell hype from reality."

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Sexism Still a Problem At E3
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '13 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's let-your-project-succeed-or-fail-on-its-own-merit department:
An anonymous reader writes "Now that E3 has wound down and the big product announcements are out of the way, its time to take a step back and look at the culture represented by the giant gaming show. 'The presence of scantily clad women hawking games and gizmos seemed in particular contrast to a report released this week by the Entertainment Software Association, which organizes the gaming industry's annual trade show. It found that 45 percent of the entire gaming population is now women, and women make up 46 percent of the most frequent game buyers.' While there are fewer 'booth babes' than in earlier shows (and while some are trying to bring balance by adding 'booth bros'), the conference organizers are happy to let exhibitors make their own policy. By contrast, the Penny Arcade Expo forbids 'booth babes,' a controversial but widely lauded stance. A recent article in Kotaku about this year's E3 notes, 'For every confident cosplayer who might do the job at a con, I am seeing dozens of companies trying to sell me hundreds of women. They are not drawing my attention to the content of their games, or to their tactics or techniques. They are drawing my attention to thigh-high boots, to low-cut shirts, and, frankly, to the hard work of a really expensive bra. So much of what I see here at E3 is aimed directly at the lizard hindbrain of a 13-year-old boy. But you have to be 18 to get into the show, and it's nominally for industry professionals. Perhaps someday we—men and women alike—can all be treated like the grown-ups we theoretically are, and be trusted to judge a game by its content... not its double-D cover.'"

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Legislators Introduce Bill To Stop Set Top Boxes From Watching You
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '13 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's stop-looking-at-me department:
An anonymous reader writes "For a few years now, we've been hearing about TV-related devices that have built-in cameras and microphones. Their stated purpose is to monitor consumers and gather data — often to target advertising. (We'll set aside any unstated purposes — the uses they tell us about are bad enough.) Now, two members of the U.S. House of Representatives have submitted legislation to regulate this sort of technology. '[They] said they want to get out ahead of the release of this new technology and pass legislation that ensures it would include beefed up privacy protections for consumers. They added that this legislation is particularly relevant given the recent revelations about the National Security Agency's Internet surveillance programs. ... Additionally, the bill requires a cable box or set-top device to notify consumers when the monitoring technology is activated and in use by posting the phrase "We are watching you" across their TV screens.'"

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Ancient Roman Concrete Is About To Revolutionize Modern Architecture
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '13 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's when-in-rome department:
schwit1 sends this news from Businesweek:
"After 2,000 years, a long-lost secret behind the creation of one of the world's most durable man-made creations ever — Roman concrete — has finally been discovered by an international team of scientists, and it may have a significant impact on how we build cities of the future. Researchers have analyzed 11 harbors in the Mediterranean basin where, in many cases, 2,000-year-old (and sometimes older) headwaters constructed out of Roman concrete stand perfectly intact despite constant pounding by the sea. The most common blend of modern concrete, known as Portland cement, a formulation in use for nearly 200 years, can't come close to matching that track record. In seawater, it has a service life of less than 50 years. After that, it begins to erode. The secret to Roman concrete lies in its unique mineral formulation and production technique. As the researchers explain in a press release outlining their findings, 'The Romans made concrete by mixing lime and volcanic rock. For underwater structures, lime and volcanic ash were mixed to form mortar, and this mortar and volcanic tuff were packed into wooden forms. The seawater instantly triggered a hot chemical reaction. The lime was hydrated — incorporating water molecules into its structure — and reacted with the ash to cement the whole mixture together.'"

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Draft NASA Funding Bill Cancels Asteroid Mission For Return To the Moon
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '13 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's flip-flop department:
MarkWhittington writes "A draft version of the 2013 NASA Authorization Bill nixes any funding for President Obama's asteroid retrieval mission and instead directs NASA to return astronauts to the lunar surface as soon as possible, funding of course permitted. The NASA bill is currently working its way through the House Science Committee. Thus far the Senate has not taken up NASA authorization. However the cancellation of the asteroid retrieval mission and an insistence on returning to the moon, which both President Obama and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden have opposed, would place Congress on a collision course with the White House should that version of the bill be passed by both houses of Congress."

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Google Floats Balloons For Free Wi-Fi
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '13 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's shannon-hartley-bernoulli-theorem department:
New submitter BrokenHalo writes "Google has revealed that it has 30 balloons floating over New Zealand in a project to bring free Wi-Fi to earthquake-stricken, rural or poor areas. They're calling it Project Loon. '[W]e’ve built a system that uses balloons, carried by the wind at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, to beam Internet access to the ground at speeds similar to today’s 3G networks or faster. As a result, we hope balloons could become an option for connecting rural, remote, and underserved areas, and for helping with communications after natural disasters.' Eventually, as the balloons move across the stratosphere, consumers in participating countries along the 40th parallel in the Southern Hemisphere could tap into the service. The technology will be trialled in Australia next year, possibly in Tasmania. If the latter happens to be true, then you'll probably hear the telcos' screams in New York."

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Don't Panic, But We've Passed Peak Apple (and Google, and Facebook)
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '13 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's everything-that-will-be-invented-has-been-invented department:
waderoush writes "Over the last decade, just three companies — Google, Apple, and Facebook — have generated most of the new ideas and most of the business momentum in the world of computing. (Add in Amazon, if you're feeling generous.) But it's been a long time since any of these companies introduced anything indisputably new — and there are good reasons to think they never will again. This Xconomy essay argues that the innovation engines at Google, Apple, and Facebook are out of gas (the most surprising thing about OS X Mavericks is that it's not named after a cat) and that other players will have to come up with the underpinnings for the next big cycle of advances in computing. Granted, it's not as if any of these companies will disappear. But the idea that they'll go on generating ideas as groundbreaking as the ones that landed them in the spotlight defies common sense, statistics, and the lessons of history, which show that real innovation almost always comes from small companies. Apple, Google, and Facebook aren't too big to fail — but they may be too big to keep succeeding."

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POTI, Creators of the Songbird Media Player, Call It Quits
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '13 at 02:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-you-can-reuse-bits-of-it department:
ilikenwf writes "Pioneers of the Inevitable has announced on their blog that they will be folding on June 28. Started in 2007, the company went on to create the Songbird Desktop and mobile players, as well as the Songbird.me Facebook app. Their legacy lives on in Nightingale, an open source fork of the Songbird Desktop player that runs on Linux, Windows and Mac. No word yet on whether or not their currently closed source code will be opened up or not, but their contributions to the world of open source software are appreciated, and won't be forgotten."

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Robot Dominates Air Hockey, Adapts To Opponents' Playing Style
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '13 at 12:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's bet-on-the-robot-kid department:
colinneagle writes "Researchers at Chiba University in Japan have developed a robot that could frustrate teenagers worldwide with its impressive air hockey skills. What's remarkable about this air hockey-playing robot, which is not the first of its kind, is that it can sense human opponents' playing styles and adapt to defend against them. The key is how the computer controlling the robot views its opponent — at a speed of 500 frames per second. From there, the robot uses a three-layer control system to determine motion control, when it should hit the puck, defend its goal or stay still, and a third that determines how it should react to its opponent's playing style."

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Kickass Torrents' KAT.ph Domain Seized By Philippine Authorities
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '13 at 12:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's corporate-cronyism department:
hypnosec writes "Kickass Torrents hasn't been accessible since sometime yesterday, and now it has been confirmed that the domain name of the torrent website has been seized by Philippine authorities. Local record labels and the Philippine Association of the Recording Industry said that the torrent site was doing 'irreparable damages' to the music industry and following a formal complaint the authorities resorted to seizure of the main domain name. The site hasn't given up, and is operating as usual under a new domain name. The government of the Philippines has confirmed that the domain name has been seized based on formal complaints and copyright grounds."

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How the Linux Foundation Runs Its Virtual Office
Posted by News Fetcher on June 14 '13 at 06:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's looking-out-for-number-1 department:
CowboyRobot writes "The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit that manages much of the day-to-day business behind the open source operating system, maintains a small office in San Francisco. Stop by, however, and you probably won't find anyone there. That's because the organization's 30-something employees work virtually. It's like the anti-Yahoo: Just about everyone, including Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds, works from home. 'We really wanted to have that effectiveness and nimbleness of a virtual organization,' said Amanda McPherson, Linux Foundation's VP of marketing and developer programs. 'You have that commitment and ownership of your job more than when you're just sitting there in that cube farm,' McPherson said. 'For us, if you hire the right people who are motivated by that, you just get more commitment. [You get] people who really love their jobs and like to work, but also like that they can go to the gym at 2 in the afternoon when it's not crowded. In an office, [people would say]: "Why isn't he at his desk? It's 2. There must be something wrong."'"

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Ask Slashdot: Self-Hosting Git Repositories?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 14 '13 at 04:16 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's that-sounds-recursive department:
mpol writes "We're all aware of PRISM and the NSA deals with software houses. Just today it was in the news that even Microsoft gives zero-day exploits to the NSA, who use them to prepare themselves, but also use the exploits to break into other systems. At my company we use Git with some private repositories. It's easy to draw the conclusion that git-hosting in the cloud, like Github or Bitbucket, will lead to sharing the sourcecode with the NSA. Self-hosting our Git repositories seems like a good and safe idea then. The question then becomes which software to use. It should be Open Source and under a Free License, that's for sure. Software like GitLab and GNU Savane seem good candidates. What other options are there, and how do they stack up against each other? What experience do people have with them?"

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Confirmed: CBS News Reporter's Computer Compromised
Posted by News Fetcher on June 14 '13 at 03:31 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's all-the-cool-kids-have-their-lines-tapped department:
New submitter RoccamOccam writes "Shortly after the news broke that the Department of Justice had been secretly monitoring the phones and email accounts of Associated Press and Fox News reporters (and the parents of Fox News Correspondent James Rosen), CBS News' Sharyl Attkisson said her computer seemed like it had been compromised. Turns out, it was. 'A cyber security firm hired by CBS News has determined through forensic analysis that Sharyl Attkisson's computer was accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions late in 2012. Evidence suggests this party performed all access remotely using Attkisson's accounts. While no malicious code was found, forensic analysis revealed an intruder had executed commands that appeared to involve search and exfiltration of data.'"

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Onion Pi — Make a Raspberry Pi Into a Anonymizing Tor Proxy
Posted by News Fetcher on June 14 '13 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's tasty-and-private department:
coop0030 writes "Feel like someone is snooping on you? Browse anonymously anywhere you go with the Onion Pi Tor proxy. This is fun weekend project from Adafruit that uses a Raspberry Pi, a USB WiFi adapter and Ethernet cable to create a small, low-power and portable privacy Pi."

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FDA Calls On Medical Devicemakers To Focus On Cybersecurity
Posted by News Fetcher on June 14 '13 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-don't-need-to-tweet-from-my-pacemaker department:
alphadogg writes "Medical device makers should take new steps to protect their products from malware and cyberattacks or face the possibility that U.S. Food and Drug Administration won't approve their devices for use, the FDA said. The FDA issued new cybersecurity recommendations for medical devices on Thursday, following reports that some devices have been compromised. Recent vulnerabilities involving Philips fetal monitors and in Oracle software used in body fluid analysis machines are among the incidents that prompted the FDA to issue the recommendations."

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Flying Bicycle Is Real, Takes First Flight
Posted by News Fetcher on June 14 '13 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's yes,-you-were-definitely-the-first-one-to-think-of-an-ET-joke department:
colinneagle writes "Bringing us one step closer to the hover-boards and flying cars that mid-20th century pop culture had predicted we would have by the year 2000, three Czech companies have come together to develop a functional flying bicycle. Designed by Technodat, Evektor, and Duratec, the flying bicycle weighs a little more than 187 lbs and limits its takeoff weight to about 350 lbs, according to a report from Polish bicycle news site Biketrendy. The report claims the bicycle, which is still just a prototype, is capable of staying in the air for about six minutes, although the companies working on the project hope to extend that to 50 minutes and top speeds of about 30 miles per hour. Currently, the fans propelling the bicycle are powered by a 50Ah battery."

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A350XWB, the Plane Airbus Did Not Want To Build, Makes Maiden Flight
Posted by News Fetcher on June 14 '13 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's tell-me-about-the-wifi department:
McGruber writes "The BBC reports that the Airbus A350XWB (extra wide body) has made its first flight. Like the Boeing 787, the A350 offers airlines the chance to combine long-range services with improved fuel efficiency. The A350's fuselage is made of carbon fibre reinforced plastic, while many other parts of the aircraft use titanium and advanced alloys to save weight. It also has state-of-the-art aerodynamics, and engine manufacturer Rolls Royce has produced a new custom-designed power unit. Airbus claims that all of this means the A350 will use 25% less fuel than the current generation of equivalent aircraft. It also points out that noise and emissions will be well below current limits."

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Apogee Suing Gearbox Over Unpaid Royalties For Duke Nukem Forever
Posted by News Fetcher on June 14 '13 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it's-time-to-defraud-and-chew-bubble-gum department:
jones_supa writes "Apogee Software/3D Realms alleges that Gearbox has refused to pay more than $2 million owed to 3D Realms from royalties and advances Gearbox received from publishers for Duke Nukem Forever. In a lawsuit filed June 7 in Texas district court, 3D Realms insists that its agreement with Gearbox permits it to conduct an audit of Gearbox's royalty statements, which the studio has not allowed. 'Gearbox is simply stonewalling here in an improper attempt to conceal information from 3D Realms that it is absolutely entitled to receive,' the suit alleges. The company also alleges that Gearbox has refused to pay the agreed-upon portion of revenue Gearbox received after Duke Nukem Forever was released. 3D Realms has asked for a jury trial. This suit is apparently the end result of a friendly deal gone wrong."

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802.11ac: Better Coverage, But Won't Hit Advertised Speeds
Posted by News Fetcher on June 14 '13 at 12:16 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's are-you-implying-marketers-would-lie-to-us?!? department:
New submitter jcenters writes "Apple's new AirPort routers feature the new 802.11ac protocol, promising Wi-Fi speeds in excess of 1 Gbps, but Glenn Fleishman of TidBITS explains why we are unlikely to see such speeds any time soon. Quoting: 'When Apple says that its implementation of 802.11ac can achieve up to 1.3 Gbps — and other manufacturers with beefier radio systems already say up to 1.7 Gbps — the reality is that a lot of conditions have to be met to achieve that raw data rate. And, as you well know from decades of network-technology advertising, dear reader, a “raw” data rate (often incorrectly called “theoretical”) is the maximum number of bits that can pass over a network. That includes all the network overhead as well as actual data carried in packets and frames. The net throughput is often 30 to 60 percent lower.'"

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EA Takes Over Scrabble App, Wipes Player Histories and Switches Dictionary
Posted by News Fetcher on June 14 '13 at 11:17 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you're-welcome department:
New submitter DeathToBill writes "EA is in the midst of another user backlash, the BBC reports. After EA took over operation of the online Scrabble brand, it introduced a 'new and improved' version. Improvements include requiring manual refreshes to see other players' turns, irretrievably wiping players' game history and a switch to the Collins dictionary (rather than the traditional Chambers edition) that has proved deeply unpopular with Scrabble fanatics. "EA was unavailable for comment.""

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