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QtCon Opens In Berlin
Posted by News Fetcher on September 03 '16 at 06:43 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Qt-community department:
Long-time Slashdot reader JRiddell writes: A unique coming together of open source communities is happening in Berlin over the next week. QtCon brings together KDE, Qt, VLC and FSF-E to discuss free software, open development, community management and proprietary coding. Live streams of many of the talks are available now. The opening keynote spoke of open data and collaborative coding freeing accessibility information. 13 tracks of talks cover Community, Web, Best practices, Automotive, Mobile and Embedded, Let's talk business, Tooling, QtQuick, Multithreading, OpenGL and 3D.

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Second Irregularly Dimming Star Found
Posted by News Fetcher on September 03 '16 at 05:21 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's star-search department:
Long-time Slashdot reader RockDoctor writes: Remember the screaming and welcoming of our Dyson-Sphere-Dwelling 1500 LY distant Overlords that accompanied the news that star KIC 8462852 was irregularly dimming on both short and longer timescales? A second star with a similar light curve has been discovered and reported on ARXIV. With the euphonious names "EPIC 204278916" and "2MASS J16020757-2257467", the star is a young M1 (red) star, traveling as part of a group of stars which haven't had time to disperse from their place of formation. The age is estimated at 5 — 11 million years. Analysis of 70+ days of data from the K2 mission epoch shows a rotation of 3.6 days, but a period of 25 days near the start of the observation epoch showed dips in intensity of up to 60% lasting for up to about a day each. Details are in the Arxiv paper linked to above, particularly figures 1 and 4.
If confirmed, this discovery changes the situation with interpreting the so-called "Tabby's Star". Firstly with a second object in the class, the odds of it representing a class of naturally occurring objects compared to a unique, unusual object is greatly increased. Secondly, the different celestial mechanical situations around the different stars allows a better estimate of plausible formation mechanisms. One potentially important point is that clumps of debris that could produce these dimmings seem to be quite large. "It is also important to note that the resulting size for the transiting and occulting clump would be quite large at with the clump being in the order of 1.5 times the radius of the Sun. Sadly, this appears to be a new class of "dirty young planetary system." no alien Overlords, no screaming in the streets. Just business-like astronomy.

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Apple May Bring Back Billions In Profits To The U.S.
Posted by News Fetcher on September 03 '16 at 03:53 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's thinking-different department:
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from the San Jose Mercury News:
Apple CEO Tim Cook says the company plans to bring back billions of dollars in profit to the U.S. next year. Cook's statement, made during an interview with RTE radio Thursday, contradicts his previous public statements on the issue: He has said for years that U.S. corporate taxes are too high, and that the Silicon Valley company wouldn't be repatriating profit until its home country changed its tax code.

"Right now I would forecast that we repatriate next year"Cook said, saying that the company has "provisioned several billion" for that purpose.
An interesting side-note: Apple accounts for 40% of Silicon Valley's profits.

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Not Just Samsung? The Increasing Frequency Of Battery Fires
Posted by News Fetcher on September 03 '16 at 02:32 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's feeling-the-burn department:
Dozens of aircraft fires have been caused by lithium batteries, and after 2013 Tesla even strengthened their battery shields after several of their cars caught on fire. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the AP:

Samsung's Note 7 isn't the only gadget to catch fire thanks to lithium-battery problems, which have afflicted everything from iPhones to Tesla cars to Boeing jetliners. Blame chemistry and the fact that the batteries we rely on for everyday life are prone to leaking and even bursting into flame if damaged, defective or exposed to excessive heat...

Still, lithium batteries are so ubiquitous that ordinary users of phones and computers shouldn't worry. Research suggests that you're more likely to get hurt by a kitchen grease fire or a drunk driver than the battery powering your iPhone, Kindle or laptop. "It's not like we live in a world where people's smartphones spontaneously combust," said Ramon Llamas, research manager of research firm IDC's mobile phones team. He said owners of Galaxy Note 7s should err on the side of caution and contact Samsung for a replacement that doesn't run the same risk.

The article also reports that hoverboards were linked to at least 99 electrical fires in America that were presumably caused by battery problems. "Amazon, Best Buy and other retailers dumped the products after videos of burning hoverboards went viral."

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World Map Shows Countries Requiring Open Source Software
Posted by News Fetcher on September 03 '16 at 01:12 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's it's-the-law department:
"Europe and South America are the biggest hotspots for open-source use in government," reports Network World, while Bulgaria requires all software written for the government to be FOSS. Slashdot reader alphadogg quotes their report: It's become increasingly common over the past decade or so to see laws being passed to either mandate the use of open-source software or, at the very least, encourage people in government who make procurement decisions to do so. Here's a map of the status of open-source laws around the world.

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US Would Be 28th In 'Hacking Olympics', China Would Take The Gold
Posted by News Fetcher on September 03 '16 at 11:55 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's coding-competitions department:
After analyzing 1.4 million scores on HackerRank's tests for coding accuracy and speed, Chinese programmers "outscored all other countries in mathematics, functional programming, and data structures challenges". Long-time Slashdot reader DirkDaring quotes a report from InfoWorld:
While the United States and India may have lots of programmers, China and Russia have the most talented developers according to a study by HackerRank... "If we held a hacking Olympics today, our data suggests that China would win the gold, Russia would take home a silver, and Poland would nab the bronze. Though they certainly deserve credit for making a showing, the United States and India have some work ahead of them before they make it into the top 25."

While the majority of scores came from America and India, the two countries ranked 28th and 31st, respectively. "Poland was tops in Java testing, France led in C++, Hong Kong in Python, Japan in artificial intelligence, and Switzerland in databases," reports InfoWorld. Ukrainian programmers had the top scores in security, while Finland showed the highest scores for Ruby.

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Celebrating The 19th Anniversary of Nmap
Posted by News Fetcher on September 03 '16 at 11:55 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's ghost-of-Phrack department:
Long-time Slashdot reader collinl writes: Nmap was released 19 years ago on September 1... Seems like it has been around for ever. Was there a port scanner before Nmap?

Good question. Nmap first appeared in an article in Phrack magazine back in 1997 (which included its complete source code), although over the years its output options have expanded to include a humorous "script kiddie" format. And by 2007 the Nmap Scripting Engine was released, which in 2010 was used to generate a cool visualization showing the popularity of the top million favicons.

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Penetration-Testing Distro Kali Linux 2016.2 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on September 03 '16 at 10:31 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Offensive-Security department:
prisoninmate writes: What's Kali Linux 2016.2? Well, it's an updated Live ISO image of the popular GNU/Linux distribution designed for ethical hackers and security professionals who want to harden the security of their networks, which contains the latest software versions and enhancements for those who want to deploy the OS on new systems. It's been quite some time since the last update to the official Kali Linux Live ISOs and new software releases are announced each day, which means that the packages included in the previous Kali Linux images are very old, and bugs and improvements are always implemented in the most recent versions of the respective security tools. Best of all, the new Kali Linux 2016.2 release comes in KDE, MATE, Xfce, LXDE, and Enlightenment E17 flavors. Their blog also points out that Kali recently appeared in an episode of Mr. Robot.

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Climate Deal: US and China Join Paris Climate Accords
Posted by News Fetcher on September 03 '16 at 09:13 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's hot-news department:
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the BBC:
The US and China -- together responsible for 40% of the world's carbon emissions -- have both formally joined the Paris global climate agreement... It will only come into force legally after it is ratified by at least 55 countries, which between them produce 55% of global carbon emissions. Before China made its announcement, the 23 nations that had so far ratified the agreement accounted for just over 1% of emissions. This will put pressure on G20 nations over the weekend to move faster with their pledge to phase out subsidies to fossil fuels...

There's a G20 summit starting on Sunday, and the BBC's environmental analyst reports that the accord "will just need the EU and a couple of other major polluters to cross the threshold." Its ultimate goal is to stop global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius -- "well above the aspirational 1.5C heating that the UN accepts should really be the limit" -- though U.K. researchers report that already 2016 temperatures may be rising 1.1C above pre-industrial levels.

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Brain-Zapping Gadgets Need Regulation, Say Scientists
Posted by News Fetcher on September 03 '16 at 07:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's body-electric department:
the_newsbeagle writes: You can now buy gadgets online that send electric current through your scalp to stimulate your brain. Why would you want to do that? Because the easy technique, called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), is being investigated as a treatment for depression, a rehab aid for stroke patients, a learning enhancer for healthy people, and for many other neuropsychiatric applications. However, the technique is so new that companies selling brain-zapping gadgets aren't bound by any regulations, and experts are worried that consumers will end up buying devices that aren't safe or simply aren't effective. So scientists and some manufacturers recently got together to discuss the scope of the problem, and what can be done about it. Earlier IEEE reported that "Professional basketball, baseball, and American football teams are also experimenting with it," adding that some Olympic athletes, including sprinters and swimmers, even used a premarket version of one brain-zapping device to prepare for the Olympics in Rio.

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Legendary 747 Designer Joe Sutter Dies Age 95
Posted by News Fetcher on September 03 '16 at 07:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's crafting-an-aircraft department:
Slashdot reader schwit1 writes: Joe Sutter, Boeing's lead designer for the design and construction of the 747, has passed away at 95. This documentary of the 747 and Joe Sutter is excellent: Jumbo Revolution.
Sutter and his engineers "initially played second fiddle to the more glamorous Boeing development project at the time, the Supersonic Transport (SST)," according to Stuff.co.nz. "But the US government ultimately killed funding for the SST, and the 747 turned into the icon of international long-haul flying that established Boeing's supremacy in commercial aviation for more than two decades after it entered service in January 1970."

Sutter's team completed the roll-out of the 747 in just 29 months -- a record -- and in 1986 Sutter also served on the team investigating the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger. "Appalled that NASA's safety standards were lower than those in his commercial airplane world, Sutter was typically vocal in his criticism and pushed a key recommendation of the committee to implement a new safety management system."

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Facebook Engineers Crash Data Centers In Real-World Stress Test
Posted by News Fetcher on September 03 '16 at 06:31 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's we're-doing-this-live department:
An anonymous reader writes: In a report via IEEE Spectrum, Facebook's VP of Engineering Jay Parikh described the company's "Project Storm" -- regular takedowns of Facebook's data center intended to stress test the company's disaster recovery efforts. The first few didn't go so well, he reports. (Perhaps doing a test during a World Cup final was not such a good idea). Months and months of planning went into the initial effort, though up until the actual moment, other Facebook leaders didn't think he'd actually take out an active data center. "In 2014, Parikh decided Project Storm was ready for a real-world test: The team would take down an actual data center during a normal working day and see if they could orchestrate the traffic shift smoothly," reports IEEE Spectrum. Parikh recalls: "I was having coffee with a colleague just before the first drill. He said, 'You're not going to go through with it; you've done all the prep work, so you're done, right?' I told him, 'There's only one way to find out'" if it works. (Parikh made the remarks at this week's @Scale conference in San Jose.) Parikh says there never seemed to be a good time to perform the live takedowns. "Something always ended up happening in the world or the company. One was during the World Cup final, another during a major product launch." The report adds, "The live takedowns continue today, with the Project Storm team members coming up with crazier and crazier ambitions for just what to take offline, Parikh says.

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SpaceX Is Building a Hyperloop Test Track Near Los Angeles
Posted by News Fetcher on September 03 '16 at 02:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's testing-one-two-three department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via TechCrunch: SpaceX appears to be hard at work building its Hyperloop test track through Hawthorne, a city in southwestern Los Angeles County, California. TechCrunch reports: "SpaceX is hosting a Hyperloop Pod Design Competition for student and engineering teams, and 23 winners were selected earlier this year to build their pod prototypes and race them on the test track, a 1-mile tube capable of achieving 99.8 percent vacuum. Said track was photographed by reddit user 42finder this week (via Electrek). Pod testing would be a big step for Hyperloop technology. The two main companies competing to build the first operational Hyperloop systems, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and Hyperloop One, have yet to create pod tests. HyperloopOne has begun construction on its own test track in the Nevada desert, of course, but the SpaceX project looks considerably further along. Back when SpaceX first announced the competition, the timing of the final round which includes the actual test of final prototype pods was set for Summer 2016, but in July SpaceX announced that would slip to January of next year."

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NASA Releases First-Ever Close-Up Images of Jupiter's North Pole
Posted by News Fetcher on September 02 '16 at 11:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pinch-and-zoom department:
NASA has released the first close-up images of Jupiter's north pole captured by the Juno spacecraft, taken during the probe's first flyby of the planet with its instruments switched on. "The images show storm systems and weather activity unlike anything previously seen on any of our solar system's gas-giant planets," writes Tony Greicius via NASA. NPR reports: "NASA also released an image of Jupiter's southern aurora, a unique view that could be captured only by a spacecraft close to Jupiter. The aurora occurs when energized particles from the sun interact with Jupiter's atmosphere near the planet's poles. The space agency also released audio of what the aurora sounds like if you convert it to a frequency the human ear can hear. The pictures and data were collected Aug. 27, when June made the first of some three dozen scheduled close encounters with Jupiter. At its closest approach, the spacecraft was a mere 2,500 miles above the planet's cloud tops." The images can be found here. You can also listen to Jupiter's auroras via YouTube. Spoiler: they sound like a dial-up modem.

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FDA Bans 19 Chemicals Used In Antibacterial Soaps
Posted by News Fetcher on September 02 '16 at 08:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rinse-and-repeat department:
The Food and Drug Administration has ordered "antibacterial" ingredients to be removed from consumer soaps, citing a lack of evidence that they are effective in making soap work any better and that the industry has failed to prove they're safe. The banned chemicals include triclosan, triclocarban and 17 others (PDF) typically found in hand and body soaps. Companies have until late next year to remove the ingredients from their products, the FDA said. "Companies will no longer be able to market antibacterial washes with these ingredients because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections," the FDA said in a statement. NBC News reports: "In 2013 FDA gave soapmakers a year to show that adding antibacterial chemicals did anything at all to help them kill germs. It made the rule final Friday. The FDA started asking about triclosan in 1978. Environmental groups and some members of Congress have been calling for limits on the use of triclosan. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sued and the FDA agreed to do something about triclosan by 2016. There's no proof that triclosan is dangerous to people, but some animal studies suggest high doses can affect the way hormones work in the body. The proposed rule only affects hand soaps and body washes. Triclosan is often used in toothpaste and it's been shown to help kill germs that cause gum disease."

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Walmart Is Cutting 7,000 Jobs Due To Automation
Posted by News Fetcher on September 02 '16 at 07:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's Ok-Google department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Yahoo: The clairvoyant folks over at the World Economic Forum warned of a "Fourth Industrial Revolution" involving the rise of the machine in the workforce, and the latest company to lend credence to that claim is none other than Walmart, which is planning on cutting 7,000 jobs on account of automation. But the Walmart decision may be a bit more alarming for those in the workforce. As the Wall Street Journal reports (Warning: may be paywalled), the most concerning aspect of America's largest private employer might be that the eliminated positions are largely in the accounting and invoicing sectors of the company. These jobs are typically held by some of the longest tenured employees, who also happen to take home higher hourly wages. Now, those coveted positions are being automated. The Journal reports that beginning in 2017, much of this work will be addressed by "a central office or new money-counting 'cash recycler' machines in stores." Earlier this year, the company tested this change across some 500 locations. "We've seen many make smooth transitions during the pilot," said Deisha Barnett, a Walmart spokeswoman.

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Feds Spend Nearly $500K To 'Combat Online Trolling'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 02 '16 at 05:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's flamebait department:
mi writes: Washington Free Beacon reports: "The National Science Foundation is spending roughly half a million dollars to combat 'online trolling.' A joint project by Northwestern and Northeastern universities is examining how to create 'trolling-free environments' on the internet. The researchers define online trolls as those who try to influence public opinion by boosting 'misleading' and 'inauthentic comments.'" Just how can the "misleading" and "inauthentic" speech be eliminated by the government without violating the First Amendment? "Today almost every browser click that users make is collected by numerous trackers associated with a variety of online services (e.g., advertising networks, online social networks, e-commerce platforms)," a grant for the project states. "Users have often expressed concern about the lack of privacy and control over their personal data. Nonetheless, despite a substantial effort to expose and control this prevalent behavior, the reality is that users keep accepting updated online privacy policies, which in turn grant the gathering of more personal data. This project explores re-using this extensive tracking infrastructure for the benefits of both the users themselves and web services, with a goal of preventing online trolling (scenarios in which various groups deploy tactics to influence public opinion on the internet, by leaving biased, false, misleading, and inauthentic comments, and then artificially amplifying their ratings). The project aims to show how the tracking infrastructure can be re-used as a user 'fingerprint,' allowing a lightweight and privacy-preserving form of identification for third-party web sites." The lead researchers on the project, Aleksander Kuzmanovic from Northwestern University, and Alan Mislove from Northeastern University, said: "Public opinion is of paramount importance in any society. It is thus not a surprise that many governments, political parties, and various other groups deploy tactics to influence public opinion on the internet, a practice commonly referred to as trolling." They say their work could help combat "troll armies" used by Russia and China.

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Verizon Now Offers 'Unlimited' Data On All Plans, Without $5 Fee
Posted by News Fetcher on September 02 '16 at 05:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's better-late-than-never department:
In July, Verizon announced some big changes coming to its data plans that will make them more expensive, but will add more data. They include some new features like "Carryover Data," which is Verizon slang for rollover data, and "Safety mode," which eliminates the prospect of an overage fee and reduces the speed of the service until the end of the month. Originally, the "feature" was $5 per month for some shared data plans and was included free for Verizon's XL and XXL plan customers. However, this week Verizon announced it's now including safety mode for "free" on all plans, according to DSL Reports. "Responding to ATT's own new plans and renewed pressure from T-Mobile, Verizon will no longer be charging users the $5 'safety mode' fee starting September 6th. Instead, you'll just be throttled to 128 kbps for the remainder of your billing cycle, unless you're willing to pay $15 per each additional gigabyte at LTE speeds. That's good news for users on the S (2GB), M (4GB) and L (8GB) who were shelling out an extra $5 per month, though it doesn't really help make Verizon's new plans any more interesting overall."

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Clinton's First Email Server Was a Power Mac Tower
Posted by News Fetcher on September 02 '16 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's data-capturing-devices department:
An anonymous reader shares with us an excerpt from a report via Ars Technica: As she was being confirmed as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton contacted Colin Powell to ask him about his use of a Blackberry while in the same role. According to a Federal Bureau of Investigations memorandum published today (PDF), Powell warned Clinton that if it became public that she was using a Blackberry to "do business," her e-mails would be treated as "official" record and be subject to the law. "Be very careful," Powell said according to the FBI. "I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data." Perhaps Clinton's troubles began when she switched from a Blackberry-hosted e-mail account to an account on her Clintonemail.com domain -- a domain hosted on an Apple Power Mac "G4 or G5" tower running in the Clintons' Chappaqua, New York residence. The switch to the Power Mac as a server occurred the same month she exchanged messages with Powell. The Power Mac, originally purchased in 2007 by former President Clinton's aide Justin Cooper, had acted as the server for presidentclinton.com and wjcoffice.com. Cooper managed most of the technology support for Bill Clinton and took charge of setting up Hillary Clinton's new personal mail system on the Power Mac, which sat alongside a firewall and network switching hardware in the basement of the Clintons' home. But the Power Mac was having difficulty handling the additional load created by Blackberry usage from Secretary Clinton and her staff, so a decision was made quickly to upgrade the server hardware. Secretary Clinton's deputy chief of staff at the State Department, Huma Abedin, connected Cooper with Brian Pagliano, who had worked in IT for the secretary's 2008 presidential campaign. Cooper inquired with Pagliano about getting some of the campaign's computer hardware as a replacement for the Power Mac, and Pagliano was in the process of selling the equipment off.

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NASA's Impossible Propulsion EmDrive Is Heading to Space
Posted by News Fetcher on September 02 '16 at 04:31 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's third-law department:
An anonymous reader writes:The EmDrive, a hypothetical miracle propulsion system for outer space, has been sparking heated arguments for years. Now, Guido Fetta plans to settle the argument about reactionless space drives for once and for all by sending one into space to prove that it really generates thrust without exhaust. Even if mainstream scientists say this is impossible. Fetta is CEO of Cannae Inc, and inventor of the Cannae Drive. His creation is related to the EmDrive first demonstrated by British engineer Roger Shawyer in 2003. Both are closed systems filled with microwaves with no exhaust, yet which the inventors claim do produce thrust. There is no accepted theory of how this might work. Shawyer claims that relativistic effects produce different radiation pressures at the two ends of the drive, leading to a net force. Fetta pursues a similar idea involving Lorentz (electromagnetic) forces. NASA researchers have suggested that the drive is actually pushing against "quantum vacuum virtual plasma" of particles that shift in and out of existence. Most physicists believe these far-out systems cannot work and that their potential benefits, such as getting to Mars in ten weeks, are illusory. After all, the law of conservation of momentum says that a rocket cannot accelerate forward without some form of exhaust ejected backwards. Yet the drumbeat goes on. Just last month, Jose Rodal claimed on the NASA Spaceflight forum that a NASA paper, "Measurement of Impulsive Thrust from a Closed Radio Frequency Cavity in Vacuum" has finally been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, but this cannot be confirmed yet.

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