By EditorDavid from Slashdot's remembering-punch-cards department
In late April of 2019 Slashdot reader Adam Bradley and engineer Chris Blackburn were "sitting in a pub on a Monday night when Chris happened across a somewhat unusual eBay listing..."
They eventually submitted the winning bid for an IBM 360 Model 20 mainframe -- €3,710 (about $4,141 USD) -- and proceeded to pick it up from an abandoned building "in the backstreets of Nuremberg, Germany." (Where they tackled several issues with a tiny door that hadn't been opened since the 1970s.) By day Adam is a railway software engineer, but he's also been involved in computer history for over a decade at The National Museum of Computing in Bletchley, England.
Along with engineer Peter Vaughan, the three are now blogging "the saga that unfurled...and how we eventually tackled the problems we discovered." But after much beer, whisky, and Weiner Schnitzel, Adam assures us the story ends with a victory:
The machine will shortly be headed to the UK for a full restoration to working order. We're planning to blog the entire process and hope some of you might be interested in reading more about it.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's not-so-virtual-worlds department
'The global internet is disintegrating," argues BBC Future, calling Russia "one of a growing number of countries that has had enough of the Western-built, Western-controlled internet backbone...aided as much by advances in technology as by growing global misgivings about whether the open internet was ever such a good idea to start with."
"The new methods raise the possibility not only of countries pulling up their own drawbridges, but of alliances between like-minded countries building on these architectures to establish a parallel internet..."
It's DNS that Russia has been setting its sights on... The plan -- which was met with skepticism from much of the engineering community, if not dismissed outright -- was to create a Russia-only copy of the DNS servers (the internet's address book, currently headquartered in California) so that citizens' traffic would be exclusively directed to Russian sites, or Russian versions of external sites. It would send Russian internet users to Yandex if they typed in Google, or the social network VK instead of Facebook. To lay the groundwork for this, Russia spent years enacting laws that force international companies to store all Russian citizens' data inside the country -- leading some companies such as LinkedIn to be blocked when they refused to comply...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's no-one-behind-the-wheel department
The commercial rollout of Waymo's driver-less taxi service in Chandler, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix with a population of 260,000 people, has more than a thousand customers already signed up -- including the mayor, reports Forbes:
Each of the several hundred Waymo One vans in Chandler arrives with a safety driver at the wheel. But that may be more about public relations than technical necessity. During a recent trip, the human in the driver's seat didn't take her hands off her lap during a trip from the library to a shopping mall a few miles away in light, late morning traffic. "Part of it's just education and getting people really comfortable right out of the gate," a Waymo spokeswoman said. There's another piece of the Arizona program that's closer to Waymo's long-term plans of full autonomy. A few hundred people are getting rides in Pacificas with no safety driver through its Early Rider program, an earlier test rollout. Unlike Waymo One users, Early Riders have to sign nondisclosure agreements and aren't allowed to discuss the program.
Early Riders are also a way for the company to observe how people adapt to a robotic service and the options they want. Recently Waymo integrated Google Play music into the Waymo One app to let riders automatically listen to their preferred songs and artists. Video streaming, games and other in-vehicle options that leverage Google's many services are likely additions, though Waymo won't verify that... "Beyond the initial shock of not seeing a person in the vehicle, which we're getting used to, protocols are being established," says Chandler Police Chief Sean Duggan. "As a police officer, one of the first questions that gets asked is 'who gets the ticket? How do you contact whomever?'" There have been a "half a dozen" collisions involving a Waymo vehicle, Duggan says, but not ones where the Waymo vehicle was at fault. In fact, the department hasn't issued any citations to Waymo in the past couple of years...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's more-cheating-scandals department
An anonymous reader quotes ABC News:
The final result of Russia's version of the popular TV singing talent show, "The Voice Kids," has been cancelled after it was found that thousands of automated calls and text messages were used to rig voting in favor of its 10-year-old winner. Moscow-based cybersecurity firm Group-IB was brought in to examine the results after complaints were raised over the victory of Mikella Abramova, the daughter of well-known Russian popstar Alsou and millionaire Yan Abramov...
On Thursday, Group-IB's researchers said that, after analyzing the voting data, there had been "massive automated sending of SMS messages in favour of one participant." Sequential phone numbers were used to make more than 30,000 automated calls into the show's voting line for the contestant, IB Group wrote in a statement on its website. Another 300 telephone numbers were used to send 8,000 text messages, the statement said, noting that the automated calls and messages were made by so-called 'bots' -- software programs that can be directed to repeat tasks over and over.
The findings prompted Channel 1 to announce that it was annulling the results, saying the investigation had confirmed there was "an outside influence" that had affected the outcome. In a statement on its website, the channel said it would now organize a new "special show" in which all the contestants would compete again on May 24.
One of show's hosts warned their audience not to take the reality competition too seriously. "Let's not forget that it is only a jolly game of 'who sings best.'"Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's everywhere-store department
"It's easy to think of Amazon executives going home every night and bathing in their cynicism," writes Inc. columnist Chris Matyszczyk:
It's often contended that Amazon has put an enormous amount of pressure on shopping malls. So much so that many of those malls are shutting their doors. Yet, as the Wall Street Journal reports, Amazon is now moving into precisely those derelict malls. Why? To use the space for its vast and, some might say heartless, fulfillment centers...
It's the perfect way to ramp up Amazon's promise to make one-day delivery the norm. The malls were specifically built to give access to large urban swathes. To make that even easier, they were built with good access to highways. Amazon's avowed intention to offer free one-day delivery for Prime members involves creating the reverse flow. Where hordes once flowed toward the malls, now convoys of vans carrying packages will flow from the malls to the malls' former customers... Meanwhile, we sit back, mourn the death of malls and can't wait to get our new underwear delivered just that little bit more quickly.
The article concludes that Amazon's move "would delight the most Machiavellian of cynics with its sheer beautiful gall."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's magic-internet-money department
A week ago bitcoin was trading at $6,000. Today Forbes reports bitcoin "which has been swinging wildly throughout this week, has suddenly rallied back to over $8,000 per bitcoin, somewhat putting to rest investor and trader fears the recent bitcoin bull run may have already ended":
The bitcoin price has risen around 50% over the last 30 days, pulling many other major cryptocurrencies with it, including ethereum, Ripple's XRP, bitcoin cash, litecoin, EOS and binance coin... The total bitcoin and cryptocurrency market capitalization, which lost some $30 billion in a matter of minutes on Friday morning, has now recovered almost all of that value and is back around $250 billion, according to data from CoinMarketCap which tracks most major cryptocurrencies...
The bitcoin and cryptocurrency sector has been celebrating a raft of positive news all this week, from retail adoption [at Starbucks, Nordstrom And Whole Foods] to legendary investor support. Bitcoin and cryptocurrency technical data is also showing the bitcoin price could be heading higher, with well-known bitcoin trader Eric Choe saying he expects the digital token to reach $22,600 sometime in 2020, which would be a fresh bitcoin all-time.
Mark Mobius, the investor cofounder of Mobius Capital Partners who once branded bitcoin a "real fraud", now says instead that in the future bitcoin will be "alive and well."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's fine-and-Tandy department
Fast Company's technology editor Harry McCracken is also Slashdot reader #1,641,347. He contacted us Thursday with a story about Radio Shack's Model 100 -- and a rare training film from 36 years ago:
Radio Shack's Model 100 wasn't the first laptop -- but it was the first popular one, and an innovative machine on multiple fronts. It was also the last computer to ship with Microsoft software personally coded by Bill Gates.
I recently came across an internal training film intended to help Radio Shack staffers explain the Model 100's benefits to potential customers. I've shared it -- and some thoughts on the system's importance -- over at Fast Company.
The article calls it "an even more important computer than it generally gets credit for," noting portable computers at the time weighed a whopping 24 pounds -- and required a wall outlet to run. So a four-pound PC that ran off batteries and could fit in a briefcase "introduced people to mind-bending ideas such as using a PC on an airplane" -- even if it only had 8K of memory.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's don't-be-evil department
Google employees "want a say in and control over the products they build," reports Fortune, in an article headlined "Inside Google's Civil War":
As the so-called techlash has cast a pall over the entire sector, organized employee pushback is slowly becoming part of the landscape: Amazon workers are demanding more action from the company on battling climate change; at Microsoft, employees say they don't want to build technology for warfare; at Salesforce, a group has lobbied management to end its work with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency... But nowhere has the furor been as loud, as public, and as insistent as it has been at Google. That's no surprise to Silicon Valley insiders, who say Google was purpose-built to amplify employee voices.
With its "Don't be evil" mantra, Google was a central player in creating the rosy optimism of the tech boom. "It has very consciously cultivated this image," says Terry Winograd, a professor emeritus of computer science at Stanford who was Google cofounder Larry Page's grad school adviser and would go on to serve on the company's technical advisory board. "It makes them much more prone to this kind of uprising." Page, now 46, and cofounder Sergey Brin, 45, intentionally created a culture that encouraged the questioning of authority and the status quo, famously writing in their 2004 IPO letter that Google was not a conventional company and did not intend to become one... Now Google finds itself in the awkward position of trying to temper the radical culture that it spent the past 20 years stoking.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's making-Dreams-come-true department
dryriver explains the new buzz around "Dreams" for PS4 (now in open access). Created by the studio that made PS4's Big Little World, Dreams "is not a game. It is more of an end to end, create-your-own-3D-game toolkit that happens to run on PS4 rather than a PC... essentially an easy to use game-engine a la Unity or UnrealEngine."
Dreams lets you 3D model/sculpt, texture, animate and create game logic, allowing complete 3D games to be authored from scratch. Here is a Youtube video showing someone 3D modeling a fairly sophisticated game character and environment in Dreams. Everything from platformers to FPS games to puzzle, RPG and Minecraft type games can be created.
What is interesting about Dreams is that everything anybody creates with it becomes available and downloadable in the DreamVerse and playable by other Dreams users -- so Dreams is also a distribution tool like Steam, in that you can share your creations with others.
While PC users have long had access to 3D modeling and game authoring tools, Dreams has for the first time opened up creating console games from scratch to PS4 owners, and appears to have made the processs quicker, easier and more intuitive than, say, learning 3D Studio Max and Unity on a PC. Dreams comes with hours of tutorial walkthroughs for beginners, so in a sense it is a game engine that also teaches how to make games in the first place.
Back in January Push Square gushed that "There's simply nothing like this that's ever been done before... This is one of the most innovative, extraordinary pieces of software that we've seen on a console in quite some time..."
"And it can be browsed for hours and hours and hours. It's like when you fall into a YouTube hole, and you're clicking from recommended video to recommended video -- except here, you're jumping from minigames involving llamas to models of crustaceans to covers of The King of Wishful Thinking..."
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's warez-are-they-now department
Jason Koebler shares Vice's analysis of demoparties -- "gatherings where programmers showcase artistic audiovisual works, known as demos, after a day- or days-long coding marathon that is part bacchanal and part competition" -- starting with a visit to New York's Synchrony.
I had arrived just in time to catch the end of a set by the electronic musician Melody Loveless, who was at a folding table near the front of the room writing code that generated the music. These sorts of live coding performances have been a staple of demoparties -- gatherings organized by and for the creative computing underground -- for decades... Demos are often made by teams of programmers and are almost always rendered in real time (as opposed to, say, an animated movie, which is a pre-rendered recording). Demoparty competitions, or compos, are generally divided into categories where demo submissions must adhere to certain restrictions. For example, some compos only allow demos that were made on a Commodore 64 computer or demos that were created using under 4,000 bytes of data. In every case, however, the point of the competition is to push computing hardware to its limits in the service of digital art...
Given the abundance of digital art institutions in New York -- Eyebeam, Rhizome, LiveCode.NYC, and the School for Poetic Computation -- the lack of demoparties is conspicuous and in stark contrast to the European demoscene, which boasts dozens of annual demoparties, some of which attract thousands of participants. With this discrepancy in mind, I tagged along with the Synchrony crew this year in pursuit of an answer to a deceptively simple question -- who killed the American demoscene...?
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's oops department
Friday Salesforce "was forced to shut down large chunks of its infrastructure," ZDNet reports, calling it one of the company's biggest outages ever:
At the heart of the outage was a change the company made to its production environment that broke access permission settings across organizations and gave employees access to all of their company's files. According to reports on Reddit, users didn't just get read access, but they also received write permissions, making it easy for malicious employees to steal or tamper with a company's data...
Salesforce said the script only impacted customers of Salesforce Pardot -- a business-to-business (B2B) marketing-focused CRM. However, out of an abundance of caution, the company decided to take down all other Salesforce services, for both current and former Pardot customers. "As a result, customers who were not affected may have also experienced service disruption, including customers using Marketing Cloud integrations," Salesforce said.
A status update at Salesforce.com reports that the final duration of the service disruption was 15 hours and 8 minutes.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Apple-versus-algorithms department
Apple CEO Tim Cook challenged Gen Z to clean up the messes Baby Boomers have left behind. "In some important ways, my generation has failed you," Cook said Saturday in his commencement speech at Tulane University in New Orleans, La., at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
He emphasized climate change, according to the article -- though he also shared a memory about how Steve Jobs had convinced him to leave Compaq in 1998 "to join a company that was on the verge of bankruptcy." Cook gave some advice while remembering all the hard work that followed:
"There is a saying that if you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life," Cook said Saturday in his commencement speech at Tulane University in New Orleans, La., at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. "At Apple, I learned that is a total crock," Cook said. Rather, when you find a job you are passionate about, you will work hard, but you won't mind doing so, Cook says. "You will work harder than you ever thought possible, but the tools will feel light in your hands," Cook says.
Cook also emphasized the importance of listening to other opinions, according to Business Insider:
In what could have been a reference to Facebook, which has been under scrutiny in recent years over how it chooses the information displayed in its News Feed, the Apple CEO urged students to open their eyes. "Today, certain algorithms pull you toward the things you already know, believe, or like, and they push away everything else," he said. "Push back. It shouldn't be this way. But in 2019 opening your eyes and seeing things in a new way can be a revolutionary act...." Apple has notably pursued human curation for its Apple News app.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's whose-line-of-code-is-it-anyway? department
Northeastern University requires all of its computer science majors to take improv -- a class in theatre and improvisation, taught by professors in the drama department. The Wall Street Journal says it "forces students to come out of their shells and exercise creative play" before they can get their diplomas. (Although when the class was made mandatory in 2016, "We saw a lot of hysterics and crying," says Carla E. Brodley, dean of the computer science department.)
So what happens to the computer science majors at Northeastern?
The course requires public speaking, lecturing on such nontechnical topics as family recipes. Students also learn to speak gibberish -- 'butuga dubuka manala phuthusa,' for instance... One class had students stare into a classmate's eyes for 60 seconds. If someone laughed, you had to try again...
The class is a way to 'robot-proof' computer-science majors, helping them sharpen uniquely human skills, said Joseph E. Aoun, the university president. Empathy, creativity and teamwork help students exercise their competitive advantage over machines in the era of artificial intelligence, according to Mr. Aoun, who wrote a book about it... Other professionals agree that improv can teach the teamwork and communication required of working with others. Many software applications now are built in small teams, a collaboration of engineers, writers and designers.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's wake-up-and-smell-the-Java department
An anonymous reader shares an article titled "Does IT Run on Java 8?"
"After more than ten years in tech, in a range of different environments, from Fortune 500 companies, to startups, I've finally come to realize that most businesss and developers simply don't revolve around whatever's trending on Hacker News," argues one Python/R/Spark data scientist:
Most developers -- and companies -- are part of what [programmer] Scott Hanselman dubbed a while ago as the 99%... "They don't read a lot of blogs, they never write blogs, they don't go to user groups, they don't tweet or facebook, and you don't often see them at large conferences. Lots of technologies don't iterate at this speed, nor should they.
"Embedded developers are still doing their thing in C and C++. Both are deeply mature and well understood languages that don't require a lot of churn or panic on the social networks. Where are the dark matter developers? Probably getting work done. Maybe using ASP.NET 1.1 at a local municipality or small office. Maybe working at a bottling plant in Mexico in VB6. Perhaps they are writing PHP calendar applications at a large chip manufacturer."
While some companies are using Spark and Druid and Airflow, some are still using Coldfusion... Or telnet... Or Microsoft TFS... There are reasons updates are not made. In some cases, it's a matter of national security (like at NASA). In others, people get used to what they know. In some cases, the old tech is better... In some cases, it's both a matter of security, AND IT is not a priority. This is the reason many government agencies return data in PDF formats, or in XML... For all of this variety of reasons and more, the majority of companies that are at the pinnacle of succes in America are quietly running Windows Server 2012 behind the scenes.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's mining-the-moon department
An anonymous reader quotes the Guardian:
Great swathes of the solar system should be preserved as official "space wilderness" to protect planets, moons and other heavenly bodies from rampant mining and other forms of industrial exploitation, scientists say. The proposal calls for more than 85% of the solar system to be placed off-limits to human development, leaving little more than an eighth for space firms to mine for precious metals, minerals and other valuable materials.
While the limit would protect pristine worlds from the worst excesses of human activity, its primary goal is to ensure that humanity avoids a catastrophic future in which all of the resources within its reach are permanently used up. "If we don't think about this now, we will go ahead as we always have, and in a few hundred years we will face an extreme crisis, much worse than we have on Earth now," said Martin Elvis, a senior astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "Once you've exploited the solar system, there's nowhere left to go..."
Working with Tony Milligan, a philosopher at King's College London, Elvis analysed how soon humans might use up the solar system's most accessible resources should space mining take off. They found that an annual growth rate of 3.5% would use up an eighth of the solar system's realistic resources in 400 years. At that point, humanity would have only 60 years to apply the brakes and avoid exhausting the supply completely.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's fin-tech department
Here's what dryriver wondered after hearing that the oldest Porsche T64 in the world -- built in 1939 -- was going to be auctioned:
What stands out about this nearly 80 year old car is how curved and aerodynamically shaped it is. If you then Google 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s car images, you find that they are nowhere near as aerodynamic in shape. It took a while before production cars started to appear en masse that had a nicely-curved aerodynamic body, and before Bezier curves were invented, which allowed early CAD software to produce precisely curved designs.
Why did it take so long for cars to become more curved if aircraft of that time already had aerodynamic curves and the benefits of an aerodynamically shaped land vehicle were also known? Was it an issue with actually manufacturing curved cars in great numbers below a certain cost level, or did the automotive industry simply not care about the aerodynamics of their vehicles for a long time?
Long-time Slashdot reader MightyYar blames cheap gas, arguing that "When gas was nearly free, there was little incentive to make vehicles aerodynamic." (He also complains that "When they did go aerodynamic, they all started to look the same -- as there is an optimal aerodynamic design for a box on wheels so every designer with the same cost constraints and design tools will converge on that.") Z00L00K adds that "Until the 1930's aerodynamic drag wasn't really an issue for vehicles because the top speed wasn't that high and the roads didn't really permit high speeds either."
Long-time Slashdot reader Martin S. believes "Styling for public tastes beat aerodynamics except for outright race cars. Fuel efficiency has only become the primary driver with the rising number of cars, pollution levels in our cities and climate change." But are there other pieces to the story?
Share your own thoughts in the comments. Why did it take so long for cars to become aerodynamically shaped?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's (R)eliable-(D)atagram-(S)ockets department
jwhyche (Slashdot reader #6,192) shared this article from Sophos:
Linux systems running kernels prior to 5.0.8 require patching after news emerged of a high-severity flaw that could be remotely exploited.
According to the NIST advisory, CVE-2019-1181 is a race condition affecting the kernel's rds_tcp_kill_sock in net/rds/tcp.c "leading to a use-after-free, related to net namespace cleanup." The RDS bit refers to systems running the Reliable Datagram Sockets (RDS) for the TCP module, which means only systems that run applications using this are affected.
The attention-grabbing part is that this opens unpatched systems to remote compromise and denial of service without the need for system privileges or user interaction. On the other hand, the attack complexity is described as 'high', and any such attack would need to be launched from the local network.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's social-network-effect department
An anonymous reader quotes Fierce Wireless:
Earlier this week, the New York Times published a story with the headline "Your 5G Phone Won't Hurt You. But Russia Wants You to Think Otherwise." [Non-paywalled MSN version here.] The story outlined how RT, the Russia-backed and U.S.-based television network, has been peddling 5G cancer fear-mongering stories, making claims that 5G causes brain cancer, infertility, autism, Alzheimer's and other health disorders.
The Times reports RT has run seven such programs this year, including pieces entitled "5G Apocalypse" and "Experiment on Humanity." The Times article claims that disinformation in these news segments has spread across Facebook, YouTube and TV news channels, and that news outlets almost never mention RT's Russian origins. Anna Belkina, RT's head of communications in Moscow, told the Times in an email, "Unlike many other media, we show the breadth of debate." But, U.S. officials have accused RT of being the Kremlin's principal international propaganda outlet.
VentureBeat adds that the New York Times "has accused Russian broadcaster RT America of stoking health-related 5G disinformation in an effort to delay other countries while Russia prepares to belatedly launch the new technology," adding that at least one of the programs told its viewers in America that 5G "might kill you...."
"Meanwhile, efforts to launch 5G networks are underway within Russia itself, and the New York Times reports that Russians have embraced even more extreme views on the high-frequency wireless signals: It's believed that they can be used to heal wounds, fight hair loss, rejuvenate skin, and treat cancer."Read Replies (0)