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Emails Cast Unflattering Light On Internal Politics of Healthcare.gov Rollout
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 07:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's wanna-be-absolutely-clear department:
An anonymous reader writes with this report from The Verge linking to and excerpting from a newly released report created for a committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, including portions of eight "damning emails" that offer an unflattering look at the rollout of the Obamacare website.

The Government Office of Accountability released a report earlier this week detailing the security flaws in the site, but a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released yesterday is even more damning. Titled, "Behind the Curtain of the HealthCare.gov Rollout," the report fingers the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversaw the development of the site, and its parent Department of Health and Human Services. "Officials at CMS and HHS refused to admit to the public that the website was not on track to launch without significant functionality problems and substantial security risks," the report says. "There is also evidence that the Administration, to this day, is continuing its efforts to shield ongoing problems with the website from public view."

Writes the submitter: "The evidence includes emails that show Obamacare officials more interested in keeping their problems from leaking to the press than working to fix them. This is both both a coverup and incompetence."


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Researchers Report Largest DNA Origami To Date
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 04:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's never-date-origami-it-won't-respect-you department:
MTorrice (2611475) writes Bioengineers can harness DNA's remarkable ability to self-assemble to build two- and three-dimensional nanostructures through DNA origami. Until now, researchers using this approach have been limited to building structures that are tens of square nanometers in size. Now a team reports the largest individual DNA origami structures to date, which reach sizes of hundreds of square nanometers. What's more, they have developed a less expensive way to synthesize the DNA strands needed, overcoming a tremendous obstacle to scaling up the technology.

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Emails Cast Unflattering Light On Internal Politics of Obamacare Website Rollo
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 03:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's wanna-be-absolutely-clear department:
An anonymous reader writes with this report from The Verge linking to and excerpting from a newly released report created for a committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, including portions of eight "damning emails" that offer an unflattering look at the rollout of the Obamacare website.

The Government Office of Accountability released a report earlier this week detailing the security flaws in the site, but a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released yesterday is even more damning. Titled, "Behind the Curtain of the HealthCare.gov Rollout," the report fingers the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversaw the development of the site, and its parent Department of Health and Human Services. "Officials at CMS and HHS refused to admit to the public that the website was not on track to launch without significant functionality problems and substantial security risks," the report says. "There is also evidence that the Administration, to this day, is continuing its efforts to shield ongoing problems with the website from public view."

Writes the submitter: "The evidence includes emails that show Obamacare officials more interested in keeping their problems from leaking to the press than working to fix them. This is both both a coverup and incompetence."


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Washington DC To Return To Automatic Metro Trains
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 02:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's nothing-can-go-nothing-can-go-nothing-can-go-wrong department:
Bruce66423 (1678196) writes with news of interest to anyone with reason to ride mass transit in the U.S., specifically on the D.C. Metro system: After a crash some five years ago, automatic operation was abandoned. Now however replacement of 'faulty' modules means that moving the whole system on to automatic operation can happen. One quote is depressing: "And because trains regularly lurch to a halt a few feet short of where they should be at platforms, Metrorail riders have grown accustomed to hearing an announcement while they're waiting to board: 'Stand clear. Train moving forward.'" That never happens on the London underground with human operators? What's wrong with American drivers?

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New "Crescent Bay" VR Headset Revealed and Demo'd At Oculus Connect
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 01:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's as-the-ndas-fall department:
Oculus Rift revealed today its new 'Crescent Bay' prototype wearable display, at its inaugural Oculus Connect conference. (You can find more in the company's blog too.) From Gamasutra's coverage: The new headset has 360 degree tracking and integrated audio, as well as improved performance that allows better presence, says Iribe. It has higher resolution and a better refresh rate than even its recent DK2 headset. It's also much lighter than earlier prototypes.

The company has also licensed technology from RealSpace 3-D for improved 3D audio on Oculus moving forward. Audio is becoming a priority for the company, [CEO Brendan] ]Iribe said.


Road to VR has a gushing hands-on review: One of the stand-out demos put me in front of an alien on some sort of Moon-like world. The alien was looking at me and speaking in an unfamiliar tongue. When I moved my head, its gaze followed me. Its big and detailed eyes, combined with reaction to me as I moved, imbued it with a sense of living that was really cool. Spaceships flew over head and drew my gaze behind me, leading me to look at some incredibly detailed scenery.

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Is Google's Non-Tax Based Public School Funding Cause For Celebration?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 12:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's more-the-merrier department:
theodp (442580) writes "Google's "flash-funding" of teachers' projects via DonorsChoose continues to draw kudos from grateful mayors of the nation's largest cities. The latest comes from Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (fresh from a Google-paid stay at the Google Zeitgeist resort), who joined Google officials at Taylor Allderdice HS, where Google announced it was 'flash funding' all Pittsburgh area teachers' crowd-funding campaigns on DonorsChoose.org. DonorsChoose reports that Google spent $64,657 to fund projects for 10,924 Pittsburgh kids. While the not-quite-$6-a-student is nice, it does pale by comparison to the $56,742 Google is ponying up to send one L.A. teacher's 34 students to London and Paris and the $35,858 it's spending to take another L.A. teacher's 52 kids to NYC, Gettysburg, and DC. So, is Google's non-tax based public school funding — which includes gender-based funding as well as "begfunding" — cause for celebration?"

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Ask Slashdot: Alternate Software For Use On Smartboards?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 11:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's if-they're-smart-they-can-write-it-themselves department:
SmarterThanMe (1679358) writes Teacher here, you can call me Mr. SmarterThanMe. I have a fancy smartboard installed in my room. Smartboards allow me to show students a whole range of other stuff other than just whatever I'm writing. I can prepare instructions and activities before the lesson and just move through the boards. I can pull up some students' work and display it through the projector. I can bring up some stimulus for use in a writing task. So much better than blackboards. Except the software that comes bundled with this particular brand of smartboard is ridiculously clunky. Without naming this particular piece of software, and highlighting its shortfalls, has anyone got any suggestions on alternatives (open source or otherwise)? The main features that I'd like are:

Handwriting recognition

The ability to make and use templates

Grids or guides or *something* to be able to teach measurement I have gold star stickers for any good suggestions.

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Video Released, Crowdfunding Underway For Axiom Open Source Cinema Camera
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 10:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's for-just-a-few-euros-more department:
New submitter atagunov writes "Video
clips
have been released as crowdfunding
starts for the world first open source cinematic videocam. "I am a filmmaker myself ... I would like to have powerful
tools that I know to have full control over and that I can tune and tweak," says
Sebastian Pichelhofer
of Apertus. He is working on
the Axiom Beta,
the 2nd generation Apertus videocam, fully
open
sourced under
GPL and OHL.


It's not cheap compared to consumer-grade cameras, but being not-cheap hasn't stopped people from snapping up Joel Rubenstein's Digital Bolex.

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Why You Can't Manufacture Like Apple
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-just-haven't-earned-it-yet-baby department:
HughPickens.com writes Medium reports that although many startups want to design something that mimics the fit and finish of an Apple product, it's a good way to go out of business. "What happened when Apple wanted to CNC machine a million MacBook bodies a year? They bought 10k CNC machines to do it. How about when they wanted to laser drill holes in MacBook Pros for the sleep light but only one company made a machine that could drill those 20 m holes in aluminum? It bought the company that made the machines and took all the inventory. And that time when they needed batteries to fit into a tiny machined housing but no manufacturer was willing to make batteries so thin? Apple made their own battery cells. From scratch." Other things that Apple often does that can cause problems for a startup include white plastic (which is the most difficult color to mold), CNC machining at scale (too expensive), Laser drilled holes (far more difficult than it may seem), molded plastic packaging (recycled cardboard is your friend), and 4-color, double-walled, matte boxes + HD foam inserts (It's not unusual for them to cost upwards of $12/unit at scale. And then they get thrown away.). "If you see a feature on an Apple device you want to copy, try to find it on another company's product. If you do, it's probably okay to design into your product. Otherwise, lower your expectations. I assure you it'll be better for your startup."

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Star Wars Producers Want a 'DroneShield' To Prevent Leaks On Set
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's from-here-they-look-like-ants department:
Jason Koebler writes Over the last couple of weeks, people have been flying drones over Pinewood Studios, where Star Wars Episode VII is being filmed. That made waves last week, but, perhaps most interestingly, the studio ordered a "DroneShield" back in June anticipating the drone problem. According to the company, a DroneShield can provide email and SMS warnings if it detects a helicopters or drone. In any case, the folks over at DroneShield say that Pinewood Studios never actually got the product: The State Department keeps close tabs on products like these that are shipped overseas, and the company's export application still hasn't gone through.

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NVIDIA Launches Maxwell-Based GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970 GPUs
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's upgrade-treadmill department:
MojoKid (1002251) writes NVIDIA has launched two new high-end graphics cards based on their latest Maxwell architecture. The GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 are based on Maxwell and replace NVIDIA's current high-end offerings, the GeForce GTX 780 Ti, GTX 780, and GTX 770. NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 are somewhat similar as the cards share the same 4GB frame buffer and GM204 GPU, but the GTX 970's GPU is clocked a bit lower and features fewer active Streaming Multiprocessors and CUDA cores. The GeForce GTX 980's GM204 GPU has all of its functional blocks enabled. The fully-loaded GeForce GTX 980 GM204 GPU has a base clock of 1126MHz and a Boost clock of 1216MHz. The GTX 970 clocks in with a base clock of 1050MHz and Boost clock of 1178MHz. The 4GB of video memory on both cards is clocked at a blisteringly-fast 7GHz (effective GDDR5 data rate). NVIDIA was able to optimize the GM204's power efficiency, however, by tweaking virtually every part of the GPU. NVIDIA claims that Maxwell SMs (Streaming Multiprocessors) offer double the performance of GK104 and double the perf per watt as well. NVIDIA has also added support for new features, namely Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR), Multi-Frame Sampled Anti-Aliasing (MFAA), and Voxel Global Illumination (VXGI). Performance-wise, the GeForce GTX 980 is the fastest single-GPU powered graphics card ever tested. The GeForce GTX 970 isn't as dominant overall, but its performance was impressive nonetheless. The GeForce GTX 970 typically performed about on par with a GeForce GTX Titan and traded blows with the Radeon R9 290X.

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Why the iPhone 6 Has the Same Base Memory As the iPhone 5
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's enough-is-enough-for-anybody department:
Lucas123 writes When the iPhone 5 was launched two years ago, the base $199 (with wireless plan) model came with 16GB of flash memory. Fast forward to this week when the iPhone 6 was launched with the same capacity. Now consider that the cost of 16GB of NAND flash has dropped by more than 13% over the past two years. So why would Apple increase capacity on its $299 model iPhone 6 to 64GB (eliminating the 32GB model), but but keep the 16GB in the $199 model? The answer may lie in the fact that the 16GB iPhone is, and has been, by far the best selling model. IHS analyst Fang Zhang believes Apple is using that to push users to its iCloud storage service. Others believe restricting storage capacity allows Apple to afford the new features, like NFC and biometrics.

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Proposed Law Would Limit US Search Warrants For Data Stored Abroad
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 05:47 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's step-in-the-right-direction department:
An anonymous reader writes On Thursday, a bipartisan law was introduced in the Senate that would limit US law enforcement's ability to obtain user data from US companies with servers physically located abroad. Law enforcement would still be able to gain access to those servers with a US warrant, but the warrant would be limited to data belonging to US citizens. This bill, called the LEADS Act (PDF), addresses concerns by the likes of Microsoft and other tech giants that worry about the impact law enforcement over-reach will have on their global businesses. Critics remain skeptical: "we are concerned about how the provision authorizing long-arm warrants for the accounts of US persons would be administered, and whether we could reasonably expect reciprocity from other nations on such an approach."

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KDE's UI To Bend Toward Simplicity
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 04:46 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's bringing-the-good-stuff-to-the-surface department:
sfcrazy (1542989) writes "KDE Software is often criticized for being too complicated for an average user to use. Try setting up Kmail and you would know what I mean. The KDE developers are aware of it and now they are working on making KDE UI simpler. KDE usability team lead Thomas Pfeiffer Thomas prefers a layered feature exposure so that users can enjoy certain advanced features at a later stage after they get accustomed to the basic functionality of the application. He quotes the earlier (pre-Plasma era) vision of KDE 4 – "Anything that makes Linux interesting for technical users (shells, compilation, drivers, minute user settings) will be available; not as the default way of doing things, but at the user's discretion."

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Boeing To Take Space Tourists On Its CST-100 Spacecraft To the ISS
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 03:31 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's it's-a-free-world-baby department:
MarkWhittington (1084047) writes "According to a Thursday story in Investment Business Daily, Boeing, whose CST-100 spacecraft was one of the two winners of NASA's commercial crew competition, will reserve one seat per flight for a paying tourist. For a price comparable to what space tourists now pay for trips on the Russian Soyuz, anyone will be able to take a jaunt to the International Space Station. The move places Boeing in direct competition with the Russians, who are working through a company called Space Adventures for their tourist space jaunts."

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Android Apps Now Unofficially Able To Run On Any Major Desktop OS
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '14 at 12:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's crash-early-and-often department:
An anonymous reader writes A developer who goes by the handle Vladikoff has tweaked Google's App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) to allow any Android app to run on any major desktop operating system, not just the handful announced last week which were also limited to Chrome OS. His tweaked version of ARC is re-packaged as ARChon. The install isn't very straightforward, and you have to be in developer mode on Chrome. But there's a support forum on reddit. The extension will work on any OS running the desktop version of Chrome 37 and up as long as the user also installs chromeos-apk, which converts raw Android app packages (APKs) to a Chrome extension. Ars Technica reports that apps run this way are buggy, fast, and crash often but expresses optimism for when Google officially "opens the floodgates on the Play Store, putting 1.3 million Android apps onto nearly every platform."

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Data Archiving Standards Need To Be Future-Proofed
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '14 at 10:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's nothing-is-totally-future-proof department:
storagedude writes Imagine in the not-too-distant future, your entire genome is on archival storage and accessed by your doctors for critical medical decisions. You'd want that data to be safe from hackers and data corruption, wouldn't you? Oh, and it would need to be error-free and accessible for about a hundred years too. The problem is, we currently don't have the data integrity, security and format migration standards to ensure that, according to Henry Newman at Enterprise Storage Forum. Newman calls for standards groups to add new features like collision-proof hash to archive interfaces and software.

'It will not be long until your genome is tracked from birth to death. I am sure we do not want to have genome objects hacked or changed via silent corruption, yet this data will need to be kept maybe a hundred or more years through a huge number of technology changes. The big problem with archiving data today is not really the media, though that too is a problem. The big problem is the software that is needed and the standards that do not yet exist to manage and control long-term data,' writes Newman.


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Why a Chinese Company Is the Biggest IPO Ever In the US
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '14 at 07:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's visible-from-space department:
An anonymous reader writes The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has made headlines lately in US financial news. At the closing of its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on Friday, it had raised $21.8 billion on the New York Stock Exchange, larger even than Visa's ($17.9 billion), Facebook's ($16 billion), and General Motors ($15.8 billion) IPOs. Some critics do say that Alibaba's share price will plummet from its current value of $93.60 in the same way that Facebook's and Twitter's plummeted dramatically after initial offerings. Before we speculate, however, we should take note of what Alibaba is exactly. Beyond the likes of Amazon and eBay, Alibaba apparently links average consumers directly to manufacturers, which is handy for an economy ripe for change. Approximately half of Alibaba's shares "were sold to 25 investment firms", and "most of the shares went to US investors."

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Microsoft Kills Off Its Trustworthy Computing Group
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '14 at 04:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-you-can-totally-trust-it department:
An anonymous reader writes Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Group is headed for the axe, and its responsibilities will be taken over either by the company's Cloud & Enterprise Division or its Legal & Corporate Affairs group. Microsoft's disbanding of the group represents a punctuation mark in the industry's decades-long conversation around trusted computing as a concept. The security center of gravity is moving away from enterprise desktops to cloud and mobile and 'things,' so it makes sense for this security leadership role to shift as well. According to a company spokesman, an unspecified number of jobs from the group will be cut. Also today, Microsoft has announced the closure of its Silicon Valley lab. Its research labs in Redmond, New York, and Cambridge (in Massachusetts) will pick up some of the closed lab's operations.

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Google's Doubleclick Ad Servers Exposed Millions of Computers To Malware
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '14 at 03:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-zedo-is-awesome department:
wabrandsma (2551008) writes with this excerpt from The Verge:
Last night, researchers at Malwarebytes noticed strange behavior on sites like Last.fm, The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post. Ads on the sites were being unusually aggressive, setting off anti-virus warnings and raising flags in a number of Malwarebytes systems. After some digging, researcher Jerome Segura realized the problem was coming from Google's DoubleClick ad servers and the popular Zedo ad agency. Together, they were serving up malicious ads designed to spread the recently identified Zemot malware. A Google representative has confirmed the breach, saying "our team is aware of this and has taken steps to shut this down."

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