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Larry Ellison Says 'Amazon's Lead is Over' As Oracle Unveils New Cloud Infrastructure
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '16 at 12:37 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's shots-fired department:
Oracle has unveiled its second generation of cloud infrastructure for third-party developers to run their applications in Oracle data centers. What is interesting about the announcement is that Oracle co-founder and chief technology officer Larry Ellison claiming that "Amazon's lead is over. Amazon's going to have serious competition going forward." From a VentureBeat report: One particular instance, or virtual-machine (VM) type, that Oracle is making available in this second-generation offering -- the Dense IO Shape -- offers 28.8TB, 512GB, and 36 cores, at a price of $5.40 per hour. This product offers more than 10 times the input-output capacity of Amazon Web Services (AWS), specifically the i2.8xlarge instance, said Ellison. Currently, AWS leads the cloud infrastructure market, with Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and IBM trailing behind. Oracle's public cloud was not included in the most recent version of Gartner's highly regarded cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) Magic Quadrant, which was released last month. "Oracle also does not have enough market share to qualify for inclusion," the authors of the report wrote.

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Samsung's Latest Note 7 Battery Fix Violates Android Compatibility Docs
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '16 at 12:37 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's moral-dilemma department:
Over the past few days, we have extensively talked about the Galaxy Note 7 -- and its faulty battery. Amid announcements of a global recall, Samsung noted that it is rolling out a firmware update to let users know if their device is affected by the faulty battery. If the battery icon on the device turns green, it means the device is safe to use. The problem is that according to Google's Android Compatibility Definition Document, a set of guidelines that Google imposes on every OEM that opts for Google Mobile Services-enabled Android aren't supposed to tinker with things like battery icon. ArsTechnica reports:In the CDD, Google also defines some of the interface design -- usually the parts apps need to interact with, like the System UI and shared theme assets. This includes mandating the color of the status bar icons, which seems to throw a wrench in Samsung's publicized plans. The section titled "3.8.6. Themes" reads: "Android device implementations MUST use white for system status icons (such as signal strength and battery level) and notifications issued by the system, unless the icon is indicating a problematic status or an app requests a light status bar using the SYSTEM_UI_FLAG_LIGHT_STATUS_BAR flag." Google spells it out pretty clearly: status bar icons have to be white. They aren't allowed to be green, which is the color Samsung plans to use in a future update.

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iPhone 7 Plus Makes Hissing Sound Under Load, Some Users Complain
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '16 at 12:37 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's phone-on-steroid department:
Several commendable users are complaining that their iPhone 7 Plus handsets are making a "hissing" noise especially when they do some heavy weight work. Some users note that this issue extends to the iPhone 7 as well. BusinessInsider reports:Stephen Hackett, cofounder of podcast network Relay FM, tweeted that his iPhone 7 Plus "makes terrible noises when under load," and shared an audio clip of the noise. TechCrunch writer (and former Apple employee) Darrell Etherington responded that his "brand new, just-unboxed [device is] doing the same thing right now." It sounds like the problem isn't affecting all devices, and it's not immediately clear what's behind it. Hackett said on Twitter that Apple will be replacing his device with a new one, which suggests it's a defect rather than just an unexpected quirk of the new smartphone's design. There's some speculation out there as to what's causing it - but nothing concrete yet. Engadget's Jon Fingas suggests it could be "coil whine," a process where electronics make an unintended noise while working, for example.

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Cisco Scrambles To Patch Second Shadow Brokers Bug In Firewalls
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '16 at 12:37 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Trailrunner7 writes: Cisco is scrambling to patch another vulnerability in many of its products that was exposed as part of the Shadow Brokers dump last month. The latest vulnerability affects many different products, including all of the Cisco PIX firewalls. The latest weakness lies in the code that Cisco's IOS operating system uses to process IKEv1 packets. IKE is used in the IPSec protocol to help set up security associations, and Cisco uses it in a number of its products. The company said in an advisory that many versions of its IOS operating system are affected, including IOS XE and XR. Cisco does not have patches available for this vulnerability yet, and said there are no workarounds available to protect against attacks either. Many of the products affected by this flaw are older releases and are no longer supported, specifically the PIX firewalls, which haven't been supported since 2009.

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Valve Bans Developer From Steam After It Sues Customers Over Bad Reviews
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '16 at 12:37 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's justice-league department:
From an ArsTechnica report: A game developer has been banned from Steam after users claimed that it had attempted to sue 100 users of the platform for $18 million -- for the crime of leaving bad reviews. Digital Homicide, which has released dozens of small games mostly available for a couple of quid each, had its titles removed from Valve's popular digital distribution platform on Friday night. Its boss, James Romine, was granted a subpoena by a court in Arizona apparently allowing him to demand the release of "identification and associated data" of anonymous Steam users. The lawsuit listed in turn the misdemeanours of dozens of John/Jane Does, which include counts of "harassment," "stalking," and "cyber-bullying." In a brief e-mail sent to Vice's Motherboard at the end of last week, Valve's marketing veep Doug Lombardi confirmed that "Valve has stopped doing business with Digital Homicide for being hostile to Steam customers."

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Google Chrome Beta For Android Now Lets You Play YouTube In the Background
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '16 at 12:37 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's good-changes department:
The recently released version of Chrome on Android -- v54 (albeit in beta) -- finally brings a feature that users have been requesting for years: it lets them play YouTube songs in the background. Much like some of you, there are many out there who prefer listening to songs on YouTube instead of getting a subscription or otherwise downloading a music-streaming service. From a TechTimes report: With version 54, Google introduced a handful of updates to Chrome Beta. The new version introduces a handful of features that include background video and playback and a redesigned new tab page, among others. Among the features that are packed in the said beta version, background video playback is perhaps the most significant. In older iterations of Chrome, including version 53, videos will get paused once a new app is opened or after switching to the home screen. In version 54 beta, the videos will still get paused automatically but Android users are provided with an option to resume them via a media notification. Audio from the video will continuously be heard while using other apps.

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Lyft Says Robots Will Drive Most Of Its Cars in Five Years
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '16 at 12:37 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's autonomous-future department:
A week after its rival Uber began rolling out self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, Lyft has said it also expects to roll out its self-driving by next year. Its president John Zimmer outlined a "three-phase" plan for the company, noting that self-driving cars will be made available to Lyft users in the first phase. But in this phase, it only plans to roll out self-driving cars that can "drive along fixed routes" and that the "technology is guaranteed to be able to navigate." Recode adds: In the second phase, the self-driving cars in the fleet will navigate more than just the fixed routes, but will only drive up to 25 miles per hour. As the technology matures and the software encounters more complex environments, Zimmer wrote, cars will get faster. The third phase, expected to happen sometime in 2021 or 2022, will be when all Lyft rides will be completed by a fully autonomous car. Shortly after that phase begins, car ownership will see a steep drop-off, according to Zimmer. Zimmer, who has long been a vocal proponent of ending car ownership, set a date for the death of the personally owned car in major U.S. cities: 2025.

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Abu Dhabi To Introduce New Regulations For Ride-Hailing Apps
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '16 at 12:37 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's need-for-regulations department:
Ride-hailing services such as Uber and others will have to register their apps and heed new regulations to operate in Abu Dhabi, a top official at the Gulf emirate's taxi regulator said on Monday, Reuters reports. From the article: U.S.-based Uber and regional rival Careem suspended services in the capital of the United Arab Emirates on Aug. 27 after many of their drivers were stopped by authorities over violations of regulations, sources told Reuters at the time. Careem has since resumed services in Abu Dhabi, although Uber has yet to do so as it awaits clarification on some issues. The new regulations are coming "very soon" and will include a provision requiring ride-hailing apps to register with The Centre for Regulation of Transport by Hire Cars (Transad), its general manager Mohamed Darwish al-Qamzi said. "This will help us to control the market easier by blocking any unregulated application with us," he told Reuters. Currently, ride-hailing services are not regulated in the UAE.

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Elon Musk Scales Up His Ambitions, Considering Going 'Well Beyond' Mars
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '16 at 12:37 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's audacious-plans department:
An anonymous reader writes: For most of its 14-year existence, SpaceX has focused on designing and developing the hardware that will lead to its ultimate goal: colonizing Mars. These plans have remained largely secret from the general public, as company founder Elon Musk has dropped only the barest of hints. But that is expected to change on Sept. 27, during a session at the International Astronautical Congress, when Musk details some of these plans for the first time in a public forum. However, on the eve of the meeting, Musk dropped a surprise on Twitter. The workhorse spacecraft that will carry approximately 100 tons of cargo or 100 people to the surface of Mars, which until now has been popularly known as the Mars Colonial Transporter, can't be called that, Musk said. "Turns out MCT can go well beyond Mars, so will need a new name..." he tweeted on Friday evening. By Saturday evening he had a new name dubbing the spacecraft the "Interplanetary Transport System," or ITS. Mars, it turns out, isn't the solar system's only marginally habitable world for would-be new world colonists. The Moon, Venus, the asteroid Ceres, and outer Solar System moons Titan and Callisto all have some advantages that could allow for colonies to subsist. However, Mars has generally been the preferred destination -- due to its relative proximity to Earth, a thin atmosphere, and sources of water ice. Musk now seems to be suggesting that some of these more distant destinations, especially moons around Jupiter and Saturn, might be reachable with the Interplanetary Transport System.

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Netflix Releases 'Meridian' Test Footage To All Including Competitors, Open Sources Some Tools
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '16 at 12:37 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's affinity-for-open-source department:
Netflix has released 'Meridian' to not just all its 83 million subscribers, but to everyone. The company produced the title as test footage to evaluate anything from the performance of video codecs to the way Netflix streams look like on 4K TVs. But the company decided to make it to open to all -- be it hardware manufacturers, codec developers, or even competitors like Amazon and Hulu. From a report on Variety:Netflix is using a Creative Commons license for the release of "Meridian," which is new for an industry that isn't used to sharing a lot of resources. "They are in the business of exploiting content, not of giving it away," Chris Fetner, the company's director for content partner operations said. But for Netflix, it's just par of the course. Thanks to its Silicon Valley DNA, Netflix has long collaborated with other companies on cloud computing-focused open source projects. Now, it wants to nudge Hollywood to do the same -- and "Meridian" is only the beginning. This week, Netflix is also open-sourcing a set of tools tackling a common problem for studios and video services.

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GoDaddy Proposes New DNS Configuration Standard
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '16 at 12:37 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's defining-the-domain department:
GoDaddy has announced "an open set of APIs for DNS providers and web service providers," called Domain Connect. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:

"Once enabled, customers can quickly configure their domain to point to the web service of their choice with push button simplicity," according to the announcement, "streamlining and simplifying the process of connecting websites and domain names registered on different platforms." GoDaddy's submitted it for consideration as an IETF standard, where they have the support of Microsoft and Squarespace, as well as the other two largest registries, eNome and Name.com. But in the meantime, they told ProgrammableWeb, the specificaion is "out there in the public, open for feedback and adjustment."

"GoDaddy is seeking to take all the friction out of the process," the site reports, "by offering service providers like Squarepace, Wix, Google, Microsoft, Wordpress and others a registrar-agnostic API that they can use to programmatically configure all the necessary DNS entries... in lieu of making end users laboriously crawl through a bunch of forms and then praying that they've done it all correctly." Different access levels will be available based on the service being provided, and for GoDaddy's implementation of the API their senior VP of Domains Engineering "said that the program will not be open to public developers and that any service providers wanting access will have to be approved by his team at GoDaddy."

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Google's New Angular 2.0 Isn't Compatible With Angular 1
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '16 at 12:37 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's speaking-of-incompatibility department:
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes TechCrunch:

When Google announced Angular 2 in 2014, it created quite a stir in the web development community because this new version wasn't just an update, but instead a complete rewrite that wasn't compatible with the older version... "Angular 1 first solved the problem of how to develop for an emerging web," the company writes... "Six years later, the challenges faced by today's application developers, and the sophistication of the devices that applications must support, have both changed immensely."

Announcing the final release version of Angular 2 last week, Google thanked the open source community, saying "We are grateful to the large number of contributors who dedicated time to submitting pull requests, issues, and repro cases, who discussed and debated design decisions, and validated (and pushed back on) our RCs." TechCrunch writes that Google's Angular team "now also recommends that developers use TypeScript to write their apps...a Microsoft-developed superset of JavaScript that adds features like static typing and class-based object-oriented programming."

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Apple Releases Swift 3.0, 'Not Source-Compatibile With Swift 2.3'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '16 at 12:37 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's think-different department:
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes InfoWorld:

"Move fast and break things," the saying goes. Apple does both with the 3.0 version of its Swift programming language...its first full point revision since it became an open source project... In a blog post detailing the full body of changes for Swift 3.0, Apple singled out the two biggest breaking changes. The first is better translation of Objective-C APIs into Swift, meaning that code imported from Objective-C and translated into Swift will be more readable and Swift-like. The bad news is any code previously imported from Objective-C into Swift will not work in Swift 3; it will need to be re-imported.

The other major change... Most every item referenced in the standard library has been renamed to be less wordy. But again, this brings bad news for anyone with an existing Swift codebase: Apple says "the proposed changes are massively source-breaking for Swift code, and will require a migrator to translate Swift 2 code into Swift 3 code."

Apple will provide migration tools in version 8.0 of their XCode IDE, "but such tools go only so far," notes the article, questioning what will happen to the Linux and Windows ports of Swift.

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'Unpatent' Begins Crowdfunding Challenges To Bad Patents
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '16 at 12:37 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's trials-for-trolls department:
"Unpatent is a crowdfunding platform that eliminates bad patents," reads their web site. "We do that by crowdsourcing the prior art -- that is all the evidence that makes clear that a patent was not novel -- and filing reexamination requests to the patent office." An anonymous Slashdot reader reports:

"Everyone in the world can back the crowdfunding campaign against the patent," explains their site, which includes a special section with "Featured stupid patents". The first $16,000 raised covers the lawyers and fees at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and "The rest is distributed to those who find valid prior art...any evidence that a patent is not novel. We review all the prior art pieces and reward those that may invalidate a claim... Then, we file an ex partes reexamination to the USPTO."

Their team includes Lee Cheng, the legal officer at Newegg, "worldwide renowned as the patent trolls' nightmare," as well as Lus Cuende, who created his own Linux distro when he was 15 and is now CTO of Stampery, a company using the Bitcoin blockchain to notarize data.

They're currently targeting the infamous US8738435 covering "personalized content relating to offered products and services," which in February the EFF featured as their "stupid patent of the month." Its page on Unpatent.co argues that "Taking something so obvious such as personalizing content and offers...and writing the word online everywhere shouldn't grant you a monopoly over it."
Unpatent's slogan? "We invalidate patents that shouldn't exist."

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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Build Your Own Vacuum Tubes?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '16 at 12:37 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's transitioning-from-transistors department:
Could you beat wireless headphones by creating your own DIY home audio system? Two weeks ago one Slashdot commenter argued, "to have good audio that is truly yours and something to be proud of, you need to make your own vacuum tube amplifier and then use it to power real electrostatic headphones over a wire." And now long-time Slashdot reader mallyn is stepping up to the challenge:

I want to try to make my own vacuum tubes. Is there anyone here who has tried DIY vacuum tubes (or valves, to you Europeans)? I need help getting started -- how to put together the vacuum plumbing system; how to make a glass lathe; what metals to use for the elements (grid, plate, etc). If this is not the correct forum, can anyone please gently shove me into the correct direction? It needs to be online as my physical location (Bellingham, Washington) is too far away from the university labs where this type of work is likely to be done.

Slashdot's covered the "tubes vs. transistors" debate before, but has anyone actually tried to homebrew their own?
Leave your best answers in the comments. How do you build your own vacuum tubes?

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Uber Accused of Cashing In On Bomb Explosion By Jacking Rates
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '16 at 11:41 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's angry-at-algorithms department:
After a bomb exploded in Manhattan, leaving 29 injured, people leaving the scene discovered Uber had doubled their fares. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes The Sun:
Traumatized families caught up in the New York bomb blast have accused Uber of cashing in on the tragedy by charging almost double to take them home. Furious passengers have taken to social media to slam the taxi firm in the wake of the blast... Uber reportedly charged between 1.4 and 3 times the standard fare with one city worker saying he had to pay twice as much as usual. Mortgage broker Nick Lalli said: "Just trying to get home from the city and Uber f****** doubled the surge price."

"Demand is off the charts!" the app informed its users, adding "Fares have increased to get more Ubers on the road." Uber soon tweeted that they'd deactivated their surge pricing algorithm for the affected area in Chelsea, "but passengers in other areas of Manhattan said they were still being charged higher than normal fares." One of the affected passengers was Michael Cohen, who is Donald Trump's lawyer, who tweeted that Uber was "taking total advantage of chaos and surcharging passengers 1.4 to 1.8 times." And another Uber user tweeted "I'm disgusted. People are trying to get home safe. Shame on you #DeleteApp."

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Oldest-Ever Proteins Extracted From 3.8-Million-Year-Old Ostrich Shells
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '16 at 11:41 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's ancient-eggs department:
Slashdot reader sciencehabit writes: Scientists have smashed through another time barrier in their search for ancient proteins from fossilized teeth and bones, adding to growing excitement about the promise of using proteins to study extinct animals and humans that lived more than 1 million years ago. Until now, the oldest sequenced proteins are largely acknowledged to come from a 700,000-year-old horse in Canada's Yukon territory, despite claims of extraction from much older dinosaurs. Now geneticists report that they have extracted proteins from 3.8-million-year-old ostrich egg shells in Laetoli, Tanzania, and from the 1.7-million-year-old tooth enamel of several extinct animals in Dmanisi, Georgia...extinct horses, rhinos, and deer,
This raises the inevitable question. If we ever could clone a prehistoric species...should we?

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Vim 8.0 Released!
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '16 at 10:11 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's speaking-of-text-editors department:
Long-time Slashdot reader MrKaos writes: The venerable and essential vim has had it's first major release in 10 years. Lots of new and interesting features including, vim script improvements, JSON support, messages exchange with background processes, a test framework and a bunch of Windows DirectX compatibility improvements. A package manager has been added to handle the ever-growing plug-in library, start-up changes and support for a lot of old platforms has been dropped. Many Vimprovements!

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Emacs 25.1 Released With Tons Of New Features
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '16 at 10:11 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's church-of-Emacs department:
After four years of development there's a major new release of Emacs, the 40-year-old libre text editor with over 2,000 built-in commands. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:

Emacs 25.1 now lets you embed GTK+ user interface widgets, including WebKitGTK+, "a full-featured WebKit port that can allow you to browse the internet and watch YouTube inside Emacs." And it can also load shared/dynamic modules, meaning it can import the extra functionality seen in Emacs Lisp programs. This version also includes enhanced the network security, experimental support for Cairo drawing, and a new "switch-to-buffer-in-dedicated-window" mode.

Emacs 25.1 is available at the GNU FTP server, and since it's the 40th anniversary of Emacs, maybe it's a good time for a discussion about text editors in general. So leave your best tips in the comments -- along with your favorite stories about Emacs, Vim, or the text editor of your choice. What comes to your mind on the 40th anniversary of Emacs?

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Oregon Settles $6 Billion Lawsuit Over Oracle's Botched Healthcare Website
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '16 at 08:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's settled-with-software department:
"While the crippled website eventually worked, Oregon failed to enroll a single person online [and] had to resort to hiring 400 people to process paper applications." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the AP:

The state paid Oracle $240 million to create its Cover Oregon website but ultimately abandoned the site and joined the federal exchange to comply with the Affordable Care Act... The state initially asked for more than $6 billion in punitive damages when it filed the lawsuit in 2014 against the Redwood City company, but Oregon ultimately accepted a package that included $35 million in cash payments and software licensing agreements and technical support with an estimated upfront worth of $60 million...

Six years of unlimited Oracle software and technical support included in the deal will save the state hundreds of millions of dollars in years to come and ends a bitter legal battle that has damaged Oregon's "collective psyche," Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a statement. "The beauty of the deal is that if we choose to take full advantage of the free (software), we are uniquely situated to modernize our statewide IT systems over the next six years -- something we could not otherwise afford to do," she said.

"Oracle has insisted the website worked but former Gov. John Kitzhaber chose not to use it for political reasons."

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