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Pebble Lays Off 25% of Its Staff, Smartwatch Bubble Set To Burst?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 11:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-to-ditch-the-e-paper-display department:
tripleevenfall writes: Pebble is laying off 25% of its employees -- that's 40 pink slips -- taking it down to just 80 people. It seems indicative of the smartwatch market's terrible state. Previously the darling of the crowdfunding fraternity -- it raised over $30 million on Kickstarter -- Pebble is finding it hard to keep the plates spinning in 2016.

The layoffs were confirmed by Pebble's CEO Eric Migicovsky, who implied that venture capitalists are now less keen on funding the smartwatch category.

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Guiding Eyes Moves To IBM Cloud To Continue Mission Of Serving The Blind
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 09:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's helping-those-in-need department:
mmoorebz writes: Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a nonprofit organization, announced that it is adopting the IBM Cloud to improve access and analysis of canine data. Some people rely on their service dogs to help them with everyday life, and as a way to continue its mission to serving the blind, Guiding Eyes migrated more than half a million health records and more than 65,000 temperament records on thousands of dogs to the IBM Cloud. President and CEO of Guiding Eyes, Thomas Panek, said, "People don't typically think about an organization like ours as a Big Data company but we cannot succeed or grow without it."

"Guiding Eyes is a great example of how IBM Cloud can help organizations innovate new business models and processes that were heretofore unthinkable," said William Karpovich, General Manager, IBM Cloud Platform. "Through the IBM Cloud, Guiding Eyes is now able to advance even further its critical work in breeding, raising and training service dogs for those in need."

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Supercomputers Help Researchers Improve Severe Hail Storm Forecasts
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 06:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's partly-cloudy-with-a-chance-of-rain department:
aarondubrow writes: Researchers working on the Severe Hail Analysis, Representation and Prediction (SHARP) project at the University of Oklahoma used the Stampede supercomputer to gain a better understanding of the conditions that cause severe hail to form, and to produce hail forecasts with far greater accuracy than those currently used operationally. The model the team used is six times more resolved that the National Weather Service's highest-resolution forecasts and applies machine learning algorithms to improve its predictions. The researchers will publish their results in an upcoming issue of the American Meteorological Society journal Weather and Forecasting.

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Trump Gives Displaced IT Workers Attention, and He's Not Alone
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's you're-fired department:
dcblogs writes: The H-1B visa issue is getting more attention than it has ever received before. Donald Trump has invited laid-off Disney workers to speak at his rallies, and has posed in photos with them. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), held a press conference this week to complain that visa workers are being hired instead of U.S. workers. Legislation to reform the visa program has been introduced, and discrimination complaints are being filed with federal agencies and in the courts. But these efforts may have little impact. If visa restrictions arrive, IT services firms may increase reliance on web-based "knowledge transfer" to avoid having visa workers at an employer's site. There have also been reports of U.S. workers traveling overseas to train replacements on foreign soil. [Even with all the political and legal efforts,] there's no certainty any action will derail the forces moving IT jobs overseas.

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Brussels Bombers Filmed Nuclear Researchers, Hoped To Build A "Dirty Bomb," Expert Says
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 03:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's threat-to-world-peace department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: The brothers behind this week's Brussels bombings also spied on a top nuclear researcher and hoped to build a so-called "dirty bomb," an expert involved in a probe into ISIS threats told NBC News on Thursday. Khalid and Ibrahim El Bakraoui were responsible for planting a hidden camera outside the Belgian researcher's house, according to Claude Moniquet, a French former intelligence official who was hired to investigate potential plots targeting Europe's nuclear sector. This camera produced more than 10 hours of film showing the comings and goings of senior researcher at a Belgian nuclear center and his family. "The terrorist cell ... naively believed they could use him to penetrate a lab to obtain nuclear material to make a dirty bomb," Moniquet, CEO of the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center privacy consultancy said. The researcher worked at a center which stored a "significant portion of the world's supply of radioisotopes," according to the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C. These isotopes are used in hospitals and factories around the world but can also be used to make a so-called "dirty bomb" -- a device that could spread radioactive material across a wide area.

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NASA Competition Could Net You $1.5 Million For Next Great Airship
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 03:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's better-odds-than-winning-the-lottery department:
coondoggie quotes a report from NetworkWorld: NASA this week said it was considering a new Centennial Challenge: Build an airship capable of long-duration flight for scientific missions. The agency issued a Request For information to see if there was enough industry interest in the challenge and to further develop rules for the competition.

The challenge would award prizes for successful demonstration of a stratospheric airship that would be required to accomplish the following: Reach a minimum altitude of 20 km, maintain the altitude for 20 hours (200 hours for Tier 2 competition), remain within a 20 km diameter station area (and navigate between two designated points for Tier 2), successfully return the 20 kg payload (200 kg for Tier 2 competition) and payload data, and show airship scalability for longer duration flights with larger payloads through a scalability review. The proposed structure for this competition is [centered around two main awards]. Award 1: A proposed $1.0 million will be split between teams successfully completing Tier 1 within 3 years of the challenge initiation. Award 2: A proposed $1.5 million will be awarded to the first successful demonstration of Tier 2 within four years of challenge initiation.

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U.S. Indicts 7 Iranians Accused of Hacking U.S. Financial Institutions
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 02:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-to-take-a-trip-downtown department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: The U.S. Department of Justice has indicted seven Iranians with intelligence links over a series of crippling cyberattacks against 46 U.S. financial institutions between 2011 and 2013. The indictment, which was unsealed Thursday, also accuses one of the Iranians of remotely accessing the control system of a small dam in Rye, N.Y, during the same period. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the indictment is meant to send a message: "That we will not allow any individual, group, or nation to sabotage American financial institutions or undermine the integrity of fair competition in the operation of the free market." According to the indictment, the seven men worked for two Iran-based computer security companies that have done work for the Iranian government, including the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The men allegedly carried out large-scale distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which overwhelm a server with communications in order to disable it.

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Slashdot Asks: Should NPR Stop Promoting Its Own Podcasts and NPR One App On Air?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 02:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's restrictive-ethics-policy department:
A new "ethics" policy from NPR details new rules to stop promoting NPR One and its podcasts on the air, to ultimately please local station managers who pay the largest share of NPR's bills.

Chris Turpin, V.P. for news programming and operations, writes: As podcasts grow in number and popularity we are talking about them more often in our news programs. We are also fielding more and more questions from news staff and Member stations about our policies for referring to podcasts on air. To that end, we want to establish some common standards, especially for language in back announces. Our hope is to establish basic principles that are easy to understand and allow plenty of flexibility for creativity. These guidelines apply to all podcasts, whether produced by NPR or by other entities. No Call to Action: We won't tell people to actively download a podcast or where to find them. No mentions of npr.org, iTunes, Stitcher, NPR One, etc.

Basically, NPR won't promote "the lauded, loved app that is basically the future of NPR" to listeners who would be most interested in it. How do you feel about NPR's new policy?

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Starboard Launches Proxy Fight To Remove Entire Yahoo Board
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 11:42 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-to-get-physical department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP moved on Thursday to overthrow the entire board of Yahoo Inc, including Chief Executive Marissa Mayer, who has struggled to turn around the company in her nearly four years at the helm. Starboard, which has been pushing for changes at Yahoo since 2014 and owns about 1.7 percent of the company, said it would nominate nine candidates for the board. The proxy fight comes as Yahoo is pressing ahead with an auction of its core Internet business, which includes search, mail and news sites. Yahoo and Starboard could still come to an agreement before the company's annual meeting, expected to be in late June. If they cannot avoid a proxy fight and the Yahoo board election is taken to a shareholder vote, attention will swing to the large mutual and index funds that own the stock and will carry heavy weight in the final tally. Yahoo and Starboard representatives met on March 10 to discuss ways the two sides could avoid a proxy fight, according to people familiar with the matter. But those talks broke down, in part because Starboard was upset by Yahoo's announcement that same day that it appointed two new board directors, these people say.

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Kentucky Hospital Calls State of Emergency In Hack Attack
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 11:42 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's give-me-your-money department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: A Kentucky hospital is operating in an internal state of emergency following an attack by cybercriminals on its computer network, Krebs on Security reported. Methodist Hospital, based in Henderson, Kentucky, is the victim of a ransomware attack in which hackers infiltrated its computer network, encrypted files and are now holding the data hostage, Krebs reported Tuesday. The criminals reportedly used new strain of malware known as Locky to encrypt important files. The malware spread from the initial infected machine to the entire internal network and several other systems, the hospital's information systems director, Jamie Reid, told Krebs. The hospital is reportedly considering paying hackers the ransom money of four bitcoins, about $1,600 at the current exchange rate, for the key to unlock the files.

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USB Trojan Hides In Portable Applications, Targets Air-Gapped Systems
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 11:42 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Reader itwbennett writes: A Trojan program, dubbed USB Thief by researchers at security firm ESET, infects USB drives that contain portable installations of popular applications such as Firefox, NotePad++, or TrueCrypt, and it also seems to be designed to steal information from so-called air-gapped computers. "In the case we analyzed, it was configured to steal all data files such as images or documents, the whole windows registry tree (HKCU), file lists from all of the drives, and information gathered using an imported open-source application called 'WinAudit'," the ESET researchers said. The stolen data was saved back to the USB drive and was encrypted using elliptic curve cryptography. Once the USB drive was removed, there was no evidence left on the computer, the ESET researchers added.

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Samsung Plans To Give Up Authoritarian Ways, Act Like a Startup
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 11:42 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's what-could-go-wrong? department:
An anonymous reader writes: Samsung on Thursday announced that it plans to reform its internal culture to act like a startup. Se Young Lee reports for Reuters, "Samsung's executives will sign a pledge to move away from a top-down culture and towards a working environment that fosters open dialogue. The flagship firm of South Korea's dominant conglomerate will also reduce the number of levels in its staff hierarchy and hold more frequent online discussions between business division heads and employees. [...] The pronouncement is the latest among sweeping changes attempted at a time of crisis by the conglomerate and carries echoes of a 1993 exhortation by Samsung Group patriarch Lee Kun-hee to executives to 'change everything but your wife and children.'"

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Sony Is Bringing PlayStation Games To iOS and Android Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 11:42 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's all-things-android-and-ios department:
An anonymous reader points us to Bryan Lufkin's report on Gizmodo: A year ago, Nintendo announced its long-overdue plans to bring its games to smartphones. Now, Sony's doing the same thing. You'll soon be able to play original Sony games on your iOS or Android device, the company announced today. Sony is setting up a new business division called ForwardWorks, which will focus on mobile services, bringing 'full-fledged game titles' and Sony's PlayStation characters and intellectual property to handheld smart devices. And it could be happening pretty soon -- the press release says ForwardWorks kicks off operations next month.

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Female Computer Programmers Make $0.72 For Every Dollar Made By Male: Study
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 11:42 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's widening-gender-gap department:
An anonymous reader cites an article on The Mercury News' Silicon Beat tech blog: Female computer programmers make 72 cents for every dollar earned by male programmers. That difference is after researchers adjust for factors such as age, education, years of experience, job title, employer and location, according to a new study by Glassdoor (PDF), the jobs and recruiting marketplace, which looked at salary data of more than 500,000 people over 140 professions. The well-known U.S. wage gender gap is 76 cents for every dollar men earn. But women earn 94.6 cents for every man's dollar after adjusting for all factors other than gender. In other words, the wage gap in the U.S. is about 5.4 percent.

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Jason Bradbury Believes Coding Lessons In Schools Are a Waste of Time
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 11:42 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's too-cool-to-code department:
An anonymous reader writes: Famous TV personality Jason Bradbury, who hosts The Gadget Show, believes that the UK government is wasting its time trying to teach kids learn how to code. In a recent interview, he said, 'My kids won't need to code because soon computers will just code for them. I fundamentally disagree with the government initiatives to get my kids coding. It's a complete waste of time. Soon startups will just be run by really creative people -- there won't be a coder with bad social skills stood on the stage. The future will just be about being creative. This is why we need to challenge STEM and introduce an art component and rename it STEAM -- science, technology, engineering, art and maths."

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AMOLED Displays Are Now Cheaper To Produce Than LCD
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 11:42 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's evolution-of-display department:
An anonymous reader quotes an article on AndroidAuthority: Optics pundits have been crowing about AMOLED destroying LCD for a while now: they are thinner, brighter, more energy efficient and arguably offer better colors, higher contrast, and deeper saturation than LCD. The biggest barrier stopping AMOLED from taking over as the smartphone display technology of choice has been price. Until now that is. As predicted two years ago, it has only taken 24 months for AMOLED production costs to fall below that of LCD. Production costs in the first quarter for a 5-inch Full HD smartphone display are $14.30 for an AMOLED panel and $14.60 for an LCD display. In the fourth quarter of 2015, these figures were $17.10 and $15.70, respectively. [...] With AMOLED production costs dropping below LCD for the first time, AMOLED panels will soon become the default display technology choice for manufacturers on their mid-range and entry-level devices as well.

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Microsoft's 'Teen Girl' AI Experiment Becomes a 'Neo-Nazi Sex Robot'
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 07:23 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's we-made-ai-corrupt department:
Reader Penguinisto writes: Recently, Microsoft put an AI experiment onto Twitter, naming it "Tay". The bot was built to be fully aware of the latest adolescent fixations (e.g. celebrities and similar), and to interact like a typical teen girl. In less than 24 hours, it inexplicably became a neo-nazi sex robot with daddy issues. Sample tweets from it proclaimed that "Hitler did nothing wrong!", then went on to blame former President Bush for 9/11, stated that "donald trump is the only hope we've got", and other similar instances. As the hours passed, it all went downhill from there, eventually spewing racial slurs and profanity, demanding sex, and calling everyone "daddy". The bot was quickly removed once Microsoft discovered the trouble, but the hashtag is still around for those who want to see it in its ugly raw splendor.

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Japanese AI Program Wrote a Short Novel, Almost Won a Literary Prize
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 07:23 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's welcome-to-the-future department:
An anonymous reader cites a Digital Trends article: A Japanese AI program has co-authored a short-form novel that passed the first round of screening for a national literary prize. The robot-written novel didn't win the competition's final prize, but who's to say it won't improve in its next attempt? The novel is actually called The Day A Computer Writes A Novel, or "Konpyuta ga shosetsu wo kaku hi" in Japanese. The meta-narrative wasn't enough to win first prize at the third Nikkei Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award ceremony, but it did come close. Officially, the novel was written by a very human team that led the AI program's development. Hitoshi Matsubara and his team at Future University Hakodate in Japan selected words and sentences, and set parameters for construction before letting the AI "write" the novel autonomously.

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Apple's Lack of Bug Bounty Program May Explain Why Hackers Would Help FBI
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 07:23 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's you-gotta-reward-people department:
On Wednesday, it was reported that FBI has contracted Cellebrite, an Israeli software provider specializing in mobile phone forensics, for $15,000 to break into the iPhone. It is believed that Cellebrite knows of a flaw in the iPhone which could allow circumvention of iOS' built-in security layers. Cellebrite could have worked with Apple on this flaw, but it chose to help FBI instead. It doesn't take rocket science to understand why Cellebrite chose to take the other route. The New York Times says that many security firms and hackers would love to work with Apple to further improve its products, but they don't because of a lack of incentive. There's little to no monetary incentive in helping the company with finding loopholes in its products. Apple -- unlike a number of Silicon Valley giants including Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Mozilla, and recently added to the list, Uber -- doesn't maintain a Bug Bounty program. Nicole Perlroth and Katie Benner report for the Times: When hackers do find flaws in Apple's code, they have little incentive to turn them over to the company for fixing. [...] Apple, which has had relatively strong security over the years, has been open about how security is a never-ending cat-and-mouse game and how it is unwilling to engage in a financial arms race to pay for code exploits. The company has yet to give hackers anything more than a gold star. When hackers do turn over serious flaws in its products, they may see their name listed on the company's website -- but that is it. That is a far cry from what hackers can expect if they sell an Apple flaw on the thriving underground market where a growing number of companies and government agencies are willing to pay hackers handsomely.

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AMD Releases Open-Source Driver Support For Next-Gen Polaris GPUs
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '16 at 06:01 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's out-the-gate-already-this-time department:
An anonymous reader writes: For the first time ever, AMD has provided open-source support for next-generation discrete GPUs ahead of the product's launch. AMD developers published initial open-source Linux driver support for Polaris GPUs with the addition adding over sixty-seven thousand lines of code to the Linux kernel. AMD Polaris graphics cards are expected this summer while AMD released the open-source driver support in advance for preparing their new Linux hybrid driver that relies upon the open-source AMDGPU kernel driver.

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