By EditorDavid from Slashdot's absentee-ballot-boxes department
The Open Source Election Technology Foundation is trying to move U.S. voting machines from "proprietary, vendor-owned systems to ones that are owned 'by the people of the United States.'" But in the meantime, Slashdot reader dcblogs brings this report from ComputerWorld:
One major election technology company, Dominion Voting Systems, develops its systems in the U.S. and Canada but also has an office in Belgrade, Serbia. It was recently advertising openings for four senior software developers in Belgrade... Dominion said it takes measures "to ensure the accuracy, integrity and security of the software we create for our products...."
Alan Paller, president and director of research at the Sans Technology Institute...said that "one shouldn't feel complacent about maintaining software development and manufacturing all within the United States because foreign agencies have successfully placed technically competent spies on the payroll of American technology companies." But Suzanne Mello-Stark, a forensic computer scientist at Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a focus on voting machines, wants software and hardware transparency in voting systems. "The systems are proprietary and we don't know what the code looks like," said Mello-Stark.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's teen-company,-old-people department
More trouble for tech giants and how they are dealing with people. Google suffered a setback in an age discrimination suit this week. A judge ruled that other software engineers over age 40 who interviewed with the company but didn't get hired can step forward and join the lawsuit. From a Business Insider report: The suit was brought by two job applicants, both over the age of 40, who interviewed but weren't offered jobs. Specifically, the judge has approved turning the suit into a "collective action" meaning that people who "interviewed in person with Google for a software engineer, site reliability engineer, or systems engineer position when they were 40 years old or older, and received notice on or after August 28, 2014, that they were refused employment, will have an opportunity to join in the collective action against Google," the ruling says. While this isn't good news for Google, the ruling was strictly focused on whether the suit could be broadened to include more people. It doesn't mean that Google will ultimately lose the case. Google says it's fighting the suit.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's jumpstarting-Jolix department
386BSD was last released back in 1994 with a series of articles in Dr. Dobb's Journal -- but then developers for this BSD-based operating system started migrating to both FreeBSD and NetBSD. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
The last known public release was version 0.1. Until Wednesday, when Lynne Jolitz, one of the co-authors of 386BSD, released the source code to version 1.0 as well as 2.0 on Github.
386BSD takes us back to the days when you could count every file in your Unix distribution and more importantly, read and understand all of your OS source code.
386BSD is also the missing link between BSD and Linux. One can find fragments of Linus Torvalds's math emulation code in the source code of 386BSD. To quote Linus: "If 386BSD had been available when I started on Linux, Linux would probably never had happened."
Though it was designed for Intel 80386 microprocessors, there's already instructions for launching it on the hosted hardware virtualization service Qemu.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's bastard-offspring department
Long-time Slashdot reader Qbertino brings news of a new text editor offering what he calls "a modern, hipster-compliant makeover" of both Emacs and Vim:
As a classic, perhaps the classic GNU project, Emacs has been marred by abysmal branding and marketing...that has improved slightly but might still leave some people unsatisfied [and] has also been engulfed in an eternal war with Vim, the editor of the beast. Mope no further, salvation is nigh! Spacemacs is a new Emacs distribution that aims to combine all the goodies of Emacs and Vim and then some...
Version .2 of Spacemacs was released this week "with more than 1700 commits since the last major version released in January 2016." With nearly 500 contributors on GItHub, Spacemacs plans to be "crowd-configured" with "curated packages tuned by power users," and is offering features like a real-time display of available key bindings, a simple query system for layers and packages, and of course, a clearly defined set of conventions.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's political-hacks department
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the Independent:
Wikileaks has dumped thousands of emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, which includes apparent excerpts from Ms Clinton's paid, closed-door speeches to Wall Street executives after leaving her position as Secretary of State. In the excerpts, flagged in a 25 January email, Ms Clinton apparently suggested that Wall Street insiders were best qualified to regulate the banking industry and also included her apparent admission of the need for money from banking executives for political fundraising...
"Earlier today, the US government removed any reasonable doubt that the Kremlin has weaponized WikiLeaks to meddle in our election and benefit Donald Trump's candidacy," said Clinton campaign spokesperson Glen Caplin. "We are not going to confirm the authenticity of stolen documents released by Julian Assange who has made no secret of his desire to damage Hillary Clinton."
Slashdot reader schwit1 quotes the Daily Mail's article about what's coming up next:
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange promised to release information on subjects including the U.S. election and Google [and] warned that the so called 'October Surprise' will expose Google. Assange did not reveal what type of information would be leaked about the tech giant, but his 2014 book could provide a clue. In it, he wrote: "(Eric) Schmidt's tenure as CEO saw Google integrate with the shadiest of U.S. power structures..."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's changing-lives department
With the advent of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we are increasingly moving to a world where many decisions around us are shaped by calculations rather than traditional human judgement. The Guardian, citing many industry experts, reminds us that these technologies filter who and what counts, including "who is released from jail, and what kind of treatment you will get in hospital." A digital media professor said, these digital companies allow us to act, but in a very fine-grained, datafied, algorithm-ready way. "They put life to work, by rendering life in Taylorist data points that can be counted and measured" From the report (edited and condensed): Jose van Dijck, president of the Dutch Royal Academy and the conference's keynote speaker, expands further. Datification is the core logic of what she calls "the platform society," in which companies bypass traditional institutions, norms and codes by promising something better and more efficient -- appealing deceptively to public values, while obscuring private gain. Van Dijck and peers have nascent, urgent ideas. They commence with a pressing agenda for strong interdisciplinary research -- something Kate Crawford is spearheading at Microsoft Research, as are many other institutions, including the new Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence. There's the old theory to confront, that this is a conscious move on the part of consumers and, if so, there's always a theoretical opt-out. Yet even digital activists plot by Gmail, concedes Fieke Jansen of the Berlin-based advocacy organisation Tactical Tech. The Big Five tech companies, as well as the extremely concentrated sources of finance behind them, are at the vanguard of "a society of centralized power and wealth. "How did we let it get this far?" she asks. Crawford says there are very practical reasons why tech companies have become so powerful. "We're trying to put so much responsibility on to individuals to step away from the 'evil platforms,' whereas in reality, there are so many reasons why people can't. The opportunity costs to employment, to their friends, to their families, are so high" she says.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's hostile-climate department
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: The recently-ratified Paris Climate Accord calls on countries to keep the rise in average global temperatures under 2 degrees Celsius (a threshold which would bring extreme weather, water shortages and reduced agricultural production). But a recent article on Vox warns that "the world has to zero out net carbon emissions...for a good chance of avoiding 2 degrees, by around 2065. After that, emissions have to go negative... We are betting our species' future on our ability to bury carbon."
That's why everyone's watching the W.A. Parish Generating Station in Texas, which came online this week -- on schedule, and under budget. "The plant will use a newly installed system to capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide created during combustion."
Alas, Slashdot reader Dan Drollette brings bad news from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: To fight climate change with carbon capture and storage technology, we'd have to complete one new carbon capture facility every working day for the next 70 years. It's better to switch to a diet of energy conservation, efficiency, and renewables, rather than rely on this technology as a kind of emergency planetary liposuction.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's mighty-wind department
South Carolina was hit by Hurricane Matthew at 11 a.m. EST, after the hurricane killed at least 300 people in Haiti (with Reuters estimating Haiti's death toll over 800). But as the U.S. declares a state of emergency for Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, and with the power out for more than a million people, an anonymous Slashdot reader looks at the role tech companies are playing in responding to the storm system:
AirBNB "has been advertising free rooms in parts of Florida and South Carolina" reports Motherboard. AirBNB's Disaster Reponse Tool connects people needing shelter with volunteers who are offering their residences for free. Meanwhile, Uber promised to cap its "surge pricing" for the area, while Lyft promised its fares would rise no more than two times their normal rate.
But many escaped the path of the hurricane thanks to Shofur, a startup that books chartered buses and matches riders to low-cost tickets, according to the Daily Dot. "Through Thursday night and into the early morning hours of Friday, Shofur evacuated an estimated 10,000 Floridians and Georgians to areas such as Atlanta, Floridaâ(TM)s west coast, and the panhandle."
NASA is also flying a huge 15,000-pound drone over the area to collect real-time weather data, while Verizon is deploying a 17-foot drone to provide LTE mobile connectivity to first responders. A Verizon spokesperson says drone-enabled connectivity has "set the stage" for connecting drones to their IoT platform next year.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's peekaboo-I-see-you department
Long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike quotes the Wall Street Journal:
Federal agents have persuaded police officers to scan license plates to gather information about gun-show customers, government emails show, raising questions about how officials monitor constitutionally protected activity. Emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show agents with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency crafted a plan in 2010 to use license-plate readers -- devices that record the plate numbers of all passing cars -- at gun shows in Southern California, including one in Del Mar, not far from the Mexican border. Agents then compared that information to cars that crossed the border, hoping to find gun smugglers, according to the documents and interviews with law-enforcement officials with knowledge of the operation...
[T]he officials didn't rule out that such surveillance may have happened elsewhere. The agency has no written policy on its use of license-plate readers and could engage in similar surveillance in the future, they said. Jay Stanley, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the gun-show surveillance "highlights the problem with mass collection of data." He said law enforcement can take two entirely legal activities, like buying guns and crossing the border, "and because those two activities in concert fit somebody's idea of a crime, a person becomes inherently suspicious."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's mutinies-for-a-bounty department
Long-time Slashdot reader chicksdaddy quotes Security Ledger:
MITRE Corporation, the non-profit corporation that helps tackle some of the trickiest technical and security challenges out there, is dangling a $50,000 prize for anyone who can develop a solution for spotting rogue devices within an Internet of Things network...saying that it's looking for ground breaking new approaches to securing diverse Internet of Things networks like those in connected homes.
"Network administrators need to know exactly what is in the environment, or the network -- including when an adversary has switched out one device for another. In other words, is the smart thermostat we see today the same one that was there yesterday? We are looking for a unique identifier or fingerprint to enable administrators to enumerate the IoT devices while passively observing the network... "
Their registration form will be open through October, and the challenge will end after four weeks in November, or "whenever someone wins."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's harder-better-faster-stronger department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: The teenage brain has been characterized as a risk-taking machine, looking for quick rewards and thrills instead of acting responsibly. But these behaviors could actually make teens better than adults at certain kinds of learning. "In neuroscience, we tend to think that if healthy brains act in a certain way, there should be a reason for it," says Juliet Davidow, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University in the Affective Neuroscience and Development Lab and the lead author of the study, which was published Wednesday in the journal Neuron. But scientists and the public often focus on the negatives of teen behavior, so she and her colleagues set out to test the hypothesis that teenagers' drive for rewards, and the risk-taking that comes from it, exist for a reason. When it comes to what drives reward-seeking in teens, fingers have always been pointed at the striatum, a lobster-claw-shape structure in the brain. When something surprising and good happens -- say, you find $20 on the street -- your body produces the pleasure-related hormone dopamine, and the striatum responds. But the striatum isn't just involved in reward-seeking. It's also involved in learning from rewards, explains Daphna Shohamy, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute at Columbia University who worked on the study. She wanted to see if teenagers would be better at this type of learning than adults would. To test this, Shohamy and her colleagues used an fMRI scanner to watch brain activity in a group of adults and teenagers. They were looking at the striatum, but also in a different part of the brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus (which looks like, and is named after, a seahorse) helps people remember things like dates and times: the who, what, when and where. As the adults and teens had their brains scanned, they played a game that rewarded players for guessing correctly. Between questions, participants saw random pictures of neutral objects. As expected, the reward-hungry teenagers figured out the game faster than the adults did. Surprisingly, the striatum was equally active in both teenagers and adults. But in teens, it also worked closely with their hippocampus.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's stick-figures department
Microsoft is redesigning the Paint app with Windows 10 in mind. As mentioned in the leaked video posted by Twitter user WalkingCat, the "ability to create in 3D" is one of the biggest new features in the works. The Verge reports: A launch video notes that the new "Paint Preview" app includes all the familiar features of the regular version of Paint, but Microsoft is adding in 3D object support. Paint Preview users will be able to create 3D objects, and annotate them freely. Microsoft has a range of markers and art tools to help artists create objects, and brushes that can be used directly on 3D objects. All of the tools appear to be pen- and touch-friendly, with an interface that mixes 3D models, 2D images, stickers, and community tools for 3D content. Microsoft appears to be testing early "alpha" versions of the Paint app, and the videos indicate it could be ready to be released publicly soon. The timing of the Paint videos come just hours after Microsoft revealed it's planning to hold a special event in New York City later this month. Microsoft is widely expected to unveil a new Surface device at the event, with rumors suggesting it will be an all-in-one desktop PC.Read Replies (0)