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Ask Slashdot: Open Source Employee Vacation-Day Tracking Software?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '12 at 05:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's how-about-open-source-sexual-harassment-training? department:
First time accepted submitter sprior writes "I'm looking for preferably open source software that a business would use to track vacation/sick days for employees and so far have come up empty. I found WaypointHR which looks defunct and I'm looking at OrangeHRM which looks half defunct, half bait and switch, and half strange in general with a bunch of website bugs thrown in. Along the way I've seen a couple of other OS projects which look defunct as well. I realize that a solution might be more than just vacation tracking because once you configure the employee info for a company you tend to want to use that for more than one thing. Paid solutions are a possibility."

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Why Valve Wants To Port Games To Linux: Because Windows 8 Is a Catastrophe
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '12 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's goodness-of-their-hearts department:
An anonymous reader writes "Gabe Newell wants to support Linux because he think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in PC space. He wants to move away from a closed ecosystem of Microsoft Windows 8. He recently made a rare appearance at Casual Connect, an annual videogame conference in Seattle. From the allthingsd article: 'The big problem that is holding back Linux is games. People don't realize how critical games are in driving consumer purchasing behavior. We want to make it as easy as possible for the 2,500 games on Steam to run on Linux as well. It's a hedging strategy. I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space. I think we'll lose some of the top-tier PC/OEMs, who will exit the market. I think margins will be destroyed for a bunch of people. If that's true, then it will be good to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality.' Some Linux users think that this is a win-win situation for Linux users as it will brings good game titles on the Linux system that haven't been there and it will protect steam business model from both Apple and Microsoft."

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The Rise of the Junkweb and Why It's So Awesome
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '12 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's lowest-common-denominator department:
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Have you noticed your Facebook stream or looked at reddit lately? A huge chunk of what goes by lately are photos with text over them, usually quotes about this or that. 'It's the Junkweb,' writes Chris Brogan. 'Why "junk?" Because the original intent of the Internet was that links were gold, that searchability was key, that this ability to find anything and use resources from wherever was magic. And this new web? The web of pictures with text over them? They're junk. They're a dead end. The picture is the payload.' Facebook and Pinterest are doing what so much of our 'awesome' tech hasn't been able to do well: let the everyperson into this universe. For whatever reason, the 'photos with text' experience gives us that feeling we get when we read magazines. 'It makes the texty text of blogging a lot less stark. It draws our eyes in. It's fast to consume, and it brings an emotional response faster.' Now with the release of Google's Panda search technology, it has been acknowledged that links and pages aren't everything and with Google+ goes the realization that it's no longer a links-only world. who shares is as important as how it's shared. 'I'm spending far more time on the Junkweb than I am on the Smartweb,' concludes Brogan. 'Deny it, if you want. The numbers show otherwise. We are in love with this new method of interacting.'"

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Kepler Spots "Perfectly Aligned" Alien Worlds
Posted by News Fetcher on July 26 '12 at 01:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's line-em-up department:
astroengine writes "When NASA's Kepler space telescope started finding planets at odd angles to their parent stars, scientists wondered if our solar system's tidy geometry, with the planets neatly orbiting around the sun's equator, was an exception to the rule. That idea can be laid to rest thanks to an innovative use of the Kepler data which aligned three planets circling the sun-like star Kepler-30 with a giant spot on the star's surface. 'The planets themselves are not all that remarkable — two giant Jupiters and one super-Earth — but what is remarkable is that they aligned so perfectly,' astronomer Drake Deming, with the University of Maryland, told Discovery News."

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City Council Ordered To Stop CCTV In Taxi Cabs
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 11:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's don't-look department:
judgecorp writes "Southampton Council in the UK has been ordered to stop snooping on every taxi cab in the city. Privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner's Office has said it is "disproportionate" to demand that every Southampton taxi has CCTV that constantly monitors driver and passengers, including recording all conversations."

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The Nuclear Approach To Climate Change
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 08:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's solution-to-the-problem department:
Harperdog writes "A new roundtable at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists explores the question of whether nuclear energy is the answer to climate change, particularly in developing countries where energy needs are so great. This roundtable, like the ones before it, will be translated into Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish within a week of each article's publication. Here's a summary: From desertification in China to glacier melt in Nepal to water scarcity in South Africa, climate change is beginning to make itself felt in the developing world. As developing countries search for ways to contain carbon emissions while also maximizing economic potential, a natural focus of attention is nuclear power. But nuclear energy presents its own dangers."

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Skydiver Leaps From 18 Miles Up In 'Space Jump' Practice
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 06:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's watch-the-first-step department:
wooferhound writes "A daredevil leapt from a balloon more than 18 miles above the Earth today, moving one step closer to a so-called 'space jump' that would set the record for the world's highest skydive. Austrian adventurer Felix Baumgartner stepped out of his custom-built capsule at an altitude of 96,640 feet (29,456 meters) above southeastern New Mexico, officials with Red Bull Stratos — the name of Baumgartner's mission — announced today. In today's jump, Baumgartner experienced freefall for three minutes and 48 seconds, reaching a top speed of 536 mph (863 kph), project officials said. Baumgartner then opened his parachute and glided to Earth safely about 10 minutes and 30 seconds after stepping into the void."

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Should Journalists Embrace Jargon?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 04:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's use-your-words department:
ananyo writes "In an opinion piece for Nature, science writer Trevor Quirk argues that researchers use jargon to 'capture the complexity and specificity of scientific concepts.' Avoiding jargon might mean that a piece ends up easier to read, but explaining a jargon term using everyday language 'does not present the whole truth,' he says. 'I find it troubling that the same antipathy that some writers express towards jargon has taken root in the public's general attitude towards erudite language. I submit that this is no coincidence. People seem to resent not just specialized language, but any language that requires a large degree of labour to understand, appreciate and use,' he writes. 'The world increases in complexity every day, and we should not let shrink our capacity to describe it.'"

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Are Indian High Schoolers Manning Your IBM Help Desk?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 03:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's cut-rate-help department:
theodp writes "IBM CEO Virginia M. Rometty's Big Blue bio boasts that she led the development of IBM Global Delivery Centers in India. In his latest column, Robert X. Cringely wonders if customers of those centers know what they're getting for their outsourcing buck. 'Right now,' writes Cringely, 'IBM is preparing to launch an internal program with the goal of increasing in 2013 the percentage of university graduates working at its Indian Global Delivery Centers (GDCs) to 50 percent. This means that right now most of IBM's Indian staffers are not college graduates. Did you know that? I didn't. I would be very surprised if IBM customers knew they were being supported mainly by graduates of Indian high schools.'"

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The HP Memristor Debate
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what's-in-a-name department:
New submitter AaronLS writes "There has been a debate about whether HP has or has not developed a memristor. Since it's something fairly different from existing technologies, and similar in many ways to a memristor, I think they felt comfortable using the term. However, the company has been criticized for using that labeling by former U.S. patent officer Blaise Moutett. On the other hand, had HP created a new, unique label, they would have probably gotten flack for pretending it's something new when it's not. Will anything positive come from this debate? Electrical engineering analyst Martin Reynolds sums it up nicely: 'Is Stan Williams being sloppy by calling it a "memristor"? Yeah, he is. Is Blaise Moutett being pedantic in saying it is not a "memristor"? Yeah, he is. [...] At the end of day, it doesn't matter how it works as long as it gives us the ability to build devices with really high density storage.'"

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Feds Ban 'Buckyballs' Magnets
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's natural-selection-defeated-once-again department:
SicariusMan writes "Looks like warnings and other precautions were not enough to save Buckyballs Magnets. According to this report, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is concerned about the increase in children swallowing the rare earth magnets, and has issued its first stop-sale order in 11 years. Amazon and others have already agreed to stop selling the toys. 'Although the commission issued a safety alert in November, it has received more than a dozen reports since then of children ingesting the magnets, with many requiring surgery, it said. More than 2 million Buckyballs and at least 200,000 Buckycubes, a similar cube-shaped magnet, have been sold in the United States.'"

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Cyber Attacks On Activists Traced To Gamma Group's FinFisher Spyware
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's congrats-the-internet-hates-you-now department:
Sherloqq sends this quote from a Bloomberg report:
"FinFisher, a spyware sold by U.K.- based Gamma Group, can secretly take remote control of a computer, copying files, intercepting Skype calls and logging every keystroke. For the past year, human rights advocates and virus hunters have scrutinized FinFisher, seeking to uncover potential abuses. They got a glimpse of its reach when a FinFisher sales pitch to Egyptian state security was uncovered after that country's February 2011 revolution. In December, anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks published Gamma promotional videos showing how police could plant FinFisher on a target's computer. ... Researchers believe they’ve identified copies of FinFisher, based on an examination of malicious software e-mailed to Bahraini activists, they say. ... The findings illustrate how the largely unregulated trade in offensive hacking tools is transforming surveillance, making it more intrusive as it reaches across borders and peers into peoples’ digital devices. From anywhere on the globe, the software can penetrate the most private spaces, turning on computer web cameras and reading documents as they are being typed."

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'Seeds' of Supermassive Black Holes Discovered
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's good-crop-next-year department:
astroengine writes "The very existence of intermediate black holes (IBMHs) is in dispute, but a group of astronomers of Keio University, Japan, have found the potential locations of three IMBH candidates inside previously unknown star clusters near the center of the Milky Way. Using the 10-meter Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment in the Atacama Desert, Chile, and the 45-meter Nobeyama Radio Observatory in Japan, they hunted for the emissions from molecular gases associated with supernovae in star clusters — what they discovered could help evolve our view on how supermassive black holes form."

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Is There Still a Ray of Hope On Climate Change?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's let-the-kids-deal-with-it department:
Hugh Pickens writes "David Leonhardt writes in the NY Times that even as the U.S. endures its warmest year on record (the 13 warmest years for the entire planet have all occurred since 1998), the country seems to be moving further away from doing something about climate change, with the issue having all but fallen out of the national debate. But behind the scenes, a different story is emerging that offers reason for optimism: the world's largest economies may be in the process of creating a climate-change response that does not depend on the politically painful process of raising the price of dirty energy. Despite some high-profile flops, like ethanol and Solyndra, clean-energy investments seem to be succeeding more than they are failing. 'The price of solar and wind power have both fallen sharply in the last few years. This country's largest wind farm, sprawling across eastern Oregon, is scheduled to open next month. Already, the world uses vastly more alternative energy than experts predicted only a decade ago,' writes Leonhardt. Natural gas, the use of which has jumped 25 percent since 2008 while prices have fallen more than 80 percent, now generates as much electricity as coal in the United States, which would have been unthinkable not long ago. Thanks in part to earlier government investments, energy companies have been able to extract much more natural gas than once seemed possible which, while far from perfectly clean, is less carbon-intensive than coal use. The clean-energy push has been successful enough to leave many climate advocates believing it is the single best hope for preventing even hotter summers, concludes Leonhardt, adding that while a cap-and-trade program faces an uphill political battle, an investment program that aims to make alternative energy less expensive is more politically feasible. 'Our best hope,' says Benjamin H. Strauss, 'is some kind of disruptive technology that takes off on its own, the way the Internet and the fax took off.'"

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Budget 27" IPS Displays From Korea Are For Real
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-is-there-a-fruit-logo-on-the-back department:
crookedvulture writes "Giant, high-resolution LCD monitors have been around for years, but they've always been prohibitively expensive. Good displays based on IPS panel technology command upwards of $700 for 27" models and closer to $1200 for 30-inchers. However, Korean vendors have started selling similar screens on eBay for roughly half the price. These off-brand models purportedly use the same panels as pricier alternatives, and in practice, they appear to be nearly as good. There are some caveats, of course. The number of inputs may small, HDCP support isn't guaranteed, and user controls can be limited. Those may be deal-breakers for some, but getting a 27", 2560x1440 IPS display for well under $400 will be a deal-maker for others."

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Wireless Car Charger Test Starts In London
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's premium-hamster-wheel-technology department:
judgecorp writes "A test of wireless chargers for electric vehicles has started in London. The Halo system owned by Qualcomm is one of several competing technologies designed to deliver power to charge car batteries without having to plug the vehicles in. At this stage, Qualcomm is apparently worried about frying cats."

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Samsung Galaxy S3 Stripped of Local Search
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it's-not-a-feature-it's-a-bug department:
DavidGilbert99 writes "Ahead of a legal battle with Apple, Samsung has begun disabling the local Google search functionality on the international version of the Galaxy S3. This mean S3 owners will no longer be able to search contacts, messages, or other content stored locally on their phones using the in-built Google app. The interesting thing is that Apple has yet to sue Samsung over this feature in the EU or the UK and so it seems as if Samsung is being ultra cautious ahead of the the companies' big court date on Monday next."

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Reverse-Engineered Irises Fool Eye-Scanners
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's now-you-eyes-are-slightly-safer department:
Maximum Prophet writes "If you've ever had your eyes scanned, be sure to install new ones every 90 days. Wired reports on research being released at Black Hat: 'The replica images, they say, can trick commercial iris-recognition systems into believing they’re real images and could help someone thwart identification at border crossings or gain entry to secure facilities protected by biometric systems. The work goes a step beyond previous work on iris-recognition systems. Previously, researchers have been able to create wholly synthetic iris images that had all of the characteristics of real iris images — but weren’t connected to real people. The images were able to trick iris-recognition systems into thinking they were real irises, though they couldn’t be used to impersonate a real person. But this is the first time anyone has essentially reverse-engineered iris codes to create iris images that closely match the eye images of real subjects, creating the possibility of stealing someone’s identity through their iris.'"

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OS X Mountain Lion Review
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-got-your-mobile-OS-in-my-desktop-OS department:
John Siracusa at Ars Technica has published a lengthy and detailed review of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. (Lengthy enough that the review garnered a review of its own.) Siracusa methodically goes through all of the changes in the new version, covering everything from the minor new features to the overarching goals. Quoting:
"Despite the oft-cited prediction that Mac will eventually be subsumed by iOS, that's not what's happening here. Apple is determined to bring the benefits of iOS to the Mac, but it's equally determined to do so in a way that preserves the strengths of the Mac platform. Where we Mac nerds go wrong is in mistaking traditions for strengths. Loss aversion is alive and well in the Mac community; with each 'feature' removed and each decision point eliminated from our favorite OS, our tendency is to focus heavily on what's been lost, sometimes blinding ourselves to the gains. But the larger problem is that losses and gains are context-dependent. A person who never uses a feature will not miss it when it's gone. We all pay lip service to the idea that most users never change the default settings in software, but we rarely follow this through to its logical conclusion. The fact is, we are not the center of the market, and haven't been for a long time. Three decades ago, the personal computer industry was built on the backs of technology enthusiasts. Every product, every ad was created to please us. No longer. Technology must now work for everyone, not just 'computing enthusiasts.'"
< article continued at Slashdot >

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Leaked IFPI Report Details Anti-Piracy Strategy
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 09:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's filter-or-it-gets-the-hose-again department:
hypnosec writes "IFPI has inadvertently made available its own confidential internal report, penned by none other than IFPI's chief anti-piracy officer, which details its strategy against online piracy for major recording labels across the globe. The document, 30-pages long, talks about file sharing sites, torrents, cyberlockers, phishing attacks, expectations from Internet service providers, mp3 sites and a lot more. The document is a global view representation of IFPI's 'problems,' 'current and future threats,' and the industry's responses to them."

A few tactics: shutting down music services, requiring file lockers filter uploads or be shut down (interesting, since the DMCA's one good provision is the safe harbor, and proactive filtering could mean losing that protection), lobbying for DNS blocking legislation, pressuring ISPs into extra-legally enforcing their will, disrupting payment processing for pirate sites through blacklists, and providing "training built around 'real world' experiences and challenges rather than focusing on theory" on copyright law to judges and legal bodies.

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