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SEC Chair On HFT: 'The Markets Are Not Rigged'
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '14 at 04:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's everyone's-equal-once-they-invest-a-billion-dollars department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Reuters reports that U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White told a U.S. House of Representatives panel that she flatly rejected claims that retail investors are being fleeced by high-frequency traders who can use their speed to jump ahead with buy and sell orders that fetch better prices. 'The markets are not rigged,' says White. 'The U.S. markets are the strongest and most reliable in the world.' White's comments to the House Financial Services Committee mark the first time she has directly responded to allegations in Michael Lewis' new book Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt. The book alleges that high-speed traders are engaged in a form of front-running, in which the firms are able to quickly identify an investor's desire to buy a stock, rush to buy it first and then sell it back at a higher price. The SEC has been reviewing equity market structure issues, particularly following the May 6, 2010 flash crash incident when the Dow Jones Industrial Average sharply plunged before quickly rebounding. Although staff at SEC are considering whether to launch some pilot studies to test different regulatory proposals, there are no immediate plans to issue rules to crack down on high-speed trading or trading in unlit markets. 'I want to be very clear that the market metrics suggest that the retail investor is very well-served by the current market structure.'"

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Virtual Reality: Purpose Beyond Gaming
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '14 at 02:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's advertisers-will-invade-soon department:
An anonymous reader writes "Virtual reality tech is getting a ton of attention for what it can do to video games. But the technology itself isn't limited to games — just as Kinect was hijacked and used for myriad other purposes, so will VR be broadly adapted. This article goes into some of the applications: 'An elderly woman in a retirement home recently used an Oculus to explore a garden and walk stairs again. This simple environment brought her to tears. Work is also being done to help PTSD sufferers deal with their trauma by replicating the scene within virtual reality and there is great interest in using a similar approach for other conditions like amnesia, Alzheimer's and dementia. ... An elderly woman in a retirement home recently used an Oculus to explore a garden and walk stairs again. This simple environment brought her to tears. Work is also being done to help PTSD sufferers deal with their trauma by replicating the scene within virtual reality and there is great interest in using a similar approach for other conditions like amnesia, Alzheimer's and dementia. ... It's now possible for museum spaces and schools to teleport students to specific moments in history, to allow them to experience being executed by a guillotine, take tours of space or even explore the depths of the ocean.' What other VR uses can you foresee?"

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Ask Slashdot: How To Back Up Physical Data?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '14 at 01:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can't-sync-your-stone-carvings-over-dropbox department:
An anonymous reader writes "After many years I now have a backup of all my digital data in (at least) two physical locations. But what do people recommend to back up my physical data? And then how to prove my identity? I call it the 'gas leak problem,' because a gas leak in my town caused an explosion that leveled a house. If it had been my house, it would have destroyed all my paperwork that proves who I am. If I'd come home from work and found my house was now a pile of rubble, how would I prove I lived there, knowing my key no longer fits the smoldering lock? If I'd left my wallet at home, my bank cards would have been destroyed so I couldn't withdraw money or book into a hotel. Or if I'd left my phone at the office, I wouldn't know anyone's number to call, or get anyone to vouch for me. What preventative steps can you take? Since having this nightmare, I've exported my phone's VCF file to an online repo, made online notes of all my bank account numbers and passport ID, I keep ICE numbers with me at all times (separate from phone/wallet), and I've hidden a spare mobile phone and house key in a box in a nearby field. But there must be more to do!"

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Mini Gaming PCs — Promising, But Not Ready
Posted by News Fetcher on April 29 '14 at 11:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's call-me-when-it-fits-inside-a-chromecast department:
An anonymous reader writes "Ars has reviewed an AMD-powered mini gaming rig made by Gigabyte. The box itself is small and solid, and it runs a pretty beefy video card for its size. The manufacturer even claims Linux support, though the device ships with Windows 8.1. Unfortunately, reality lags a bit behind their plans — Ubuntu boots OK, but driver support is a mess. SteamOS won't run at all. The box is also limited by a mediocre CPU, which is itself limited by heat and power constraints. The review says the machine was 'intriguing and frustrating in equal measure' because 'its ambition is rarely matched by its execution.' It concludes: 'With some time and some different components, a little desktop that can deliver a great gaming experience will surely follow.'"

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The Ways Programming Is Hard
Posted by News Fetcher on April 29 '14 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's or-annoying-or-frustrating-or-etc department:
An anonymous reader writes "Those of us who spend our days sitting in front of a screen trying to make computers do our bidding know how difficult programming can be. But from an outside perspective, there's not much to indicate difficulty. Most of us have heard somebody compare our job to digging ditches, or some other manual labor, meant to contrast easy (sitting around and typing) versus hard (muscle-wearying work). Now, Peter Welch has written an amusing essay to help combat that point of view, titled Programming Sucks. He compares bridge building to a big software project. Here's a small part of it:

'You start by meeting Mary, project leader for a bridge in a major metropolitan area. Mary introduces you to Fred, after you get through the fifteen security checks installed by Dave because Dave had his sweater stolen off his desk once and Never Again. Fred only works with wood, so you ask why he's involved because this bridge is supposed to allow rush-hour traffic full of cars full of mortal humans to cross a 200-foot drop over rapids. Don't worry, says Mary, Fred's going to handle the walkways. What walkways? Well Fred made a good case for walkways and they're going to add to the bridge's appeal. Of course, they'll have to be built without railings, because there's a strict no railings rule enforced by Phil, who's not an engineer. ... Would you drive across this bridge? No. If it somehow got built, everybody involved would be executed. Yet some version of this dynamic wrote every single program you have ever used, banking software, websites, and a ubiquitously used program that was supposed to protect information on the internet but didn't.' Welch goes on to gripe about all the ways in which programming is almost awesome, but ends up being annoying."


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Microsoft Continues To Lose Money With Each Surface Tablet It Sells
Posted by News Fetcher on April 29 '14 at 08:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's when-temporary-strategies-become-permanent department:
DroidJason1 writes: "Revealed from a 10-Q filed by Microsoft with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Microsoft has been losing $300 million and counting for the Surface in the last nine months. Data from Strategy Analytics has also revealed that Microsoft's Windows-powered tablets now own a 6% global tablet share, in Q1 of 2014. Android, on the other hand, remains at the top with a 66% global share. Apple's iOS fell to 28%."

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Aerospace Merger: ATK Joins With Orbital Sciences Corp
Posted by News Fetcher on April 29 '14 at 07:46 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's drumming-up-competition-for-spacex department:
FullBandwidth writes: "Two Virginia aerospace players, Arlington-based Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and Dulles-based Orbital Sciences, are merging to create a $5 billion venture. The companies announced the merger in a joint announcement Tuesday. ATK is also spinning off its lucrative hunting gear segment into a separate company. 'The move is mutually beneficial, company executives said, as ATK looks to bolster its aerospace business and Orbital Sciences hopes to boost the scale of its existing operations as well as gain a foothold in the defense sector. ... Another beneficiary of the merger is NASA, a client of both companies.

Last year, Orbital successfully completed a supply run to the international space station using its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft. Orbital’s expansion after the merger will make it a bigger player in the commercial space sector as it competes with the likes of SpaceX, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s company, said Howard Rubel, an equity research analyst at Jefferies.'"


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Decommissioning Nuclear Plants Costing Far More Than Expected
Posted by News Fetcher on April 29 '14 at 06:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's have-you-tried-selling-them-to-evil-masterminds department:
Lasrick writes: "This article takes a look at cost estimates of nuclear power plant decommissioning from the 1980s, and how widely inaccurate they turned out to be. This is a pretty fascinating look at past articles in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that consistently downplayed the costs of decommissioning, for example: 'The Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Rowe, Massachusetts, took 15 years to decommission—or five times longer than was needed to build it. And decommissioning the plant—constructed early in the 1960s for $39 million—cost $608 million. The plant's spent fuel rods are still stored in a facility on-site, because there is no permanent disposal repository to put them in. To monitor them and make sure the material does not fall into the hands of terrorists or spill into the nearby river costs $8 million per year.'"

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How the USPS Killed Digital Mail
Posted by News Fetcher on April 29 '14 at 04:31 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's my-mailbox-might-as-well-be-a-recycling-bin department:
An anonymous reader writes "In 2013, a startup called Outbox drew a lot of attention for its ambitious goal: digitizing everybody's snail mail. It was a nice dream; no more walking down your driveway six days a week to clear out the useless junk it contained. But less than a year later, Outbox shut down. This article explains how the United States Postal Service swiftly crushed their plan to make mail better. The founders were summoned to a meeting with the Postmaster General, who told them. 'We have a misunderstanding. You disrupt my service and we will never work with you. You mentioned making the service better for our customers; but the American citizens aren't our customers—about 400 junk mailers are our customers. Your service hurts our ability to serve those customers.' The USPS's Chief of Digital Strategy said Outbox's business model 'will never work anyway. Digital is a fad.' The USPS wouldn't work with Outbox to forward customers' mail, and that eventually destroyed the business."

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Stanford Bioengineers Develop 'Neurocore' Chips 9,000 Times Faster Than a PC
Posted by News Fetcher on April 29 '14 at 03:46 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'll-order-a-dozen department:
kelk1 sends this article from the Stanford News Service:
"Stanford bioengineers have developed faster, more energy-efficient microchips based on the human brain – 9,000 times faster and using significantly less power than a typical PC (abstract). Kwabena Boahen and his team have developed Neurogrid, a circuit board consisting of 16 custom-designed 'Neurocore' chips. Together these 16 chips can simulate 1 million neurons and billions of synaptic connections. The team designed these chips with power efficiency in mind. Their strategy was to enable certain synapses to share hardware circuits. ... But much work lies ahead. Each of the current million-neuron Neurogrid circuit boards cost about $40,000. (...) Neurogrid is based on 16 Neurocores, each of which supports 65,536 neurons. Those chips were made using 15-year-old fabrication technologies. By switching to modern manufacturing processes and fabricating the chips in large volumes, he could cut a Neurocore's cost 100-fold – suggesting a million-neuron board for $400 a copy."

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Texas Sheriffs Crash $250k Drone They're Not Supposed To Be Flying
Posted by News Fetcher on April 29 '14 at 02:46 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's reportedly-called-the-experience-"wicked-sweet" department:
SpaceGhost writes: "The Houston Chronicle reveals that Friday morning a $250,000 drone was lost by the Sheriff's department in Lake Conroe (just north of Houston.) Divers have been searching for the drone. What's more, the drone is reportedly over the FAA's 25-pound weight limit, so they shouldn't have been flying it in the first place (the Chronicle says 49 pounds, the Montgomery County Police Reporter says 29 pounds — either way, it's too heavy). The MCPR article goes on to discuss the recently passed Texas Legislature House Bill 912 which restricts the use of drones to observe private property, likely influenced by the January 2012 discovery of illegal pig blood runoff and subsequent indictment."

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Heartbleed Turned Against Cyber Criminals
Posted by News Fetcher on April 29 '14 at 02:01 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bringing-balance-to-the-force department:
Rambo Tribble writes: "In a case of 'live by the sword, die by the sword,' researchers have used the now-infamous Heartlbeed bug in OpenSSL to gain access to black-hat forums. A French researcher named Steven K. is quoted as saying, 'The potential of this vulnerability affecting black-hat services is just enormous.' Reportedly, the criminal-minded sites Darkode and Damagelab have already been compromised."
In related news, U.S. Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel posted an article at Whitehouse.gov yesterday reaffirming that the U.S. government had no prior knowledge of Heartbleed. He said, 'We rely on the Internet and connected systems for much of our daily lives. Our economy would not function without them. Our ability to project power abroad would be crippled if we could not depend on them. For these reasons, disclosing vulnerabilities usually makes sense. We need these systems to be secure as much as, if not more so, than everyone else.'

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CISPA 3.0: the Senate's New Bill As Bad As Ever
Posted by News Fetcher on April 29 '14 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-blame-easter department:
Daniel_Stuckey writes: "CISPA is back for a third time—it has lost the 'P,' but it's just as bad for civil liberties as ever. The Senate Intelligence Committee is considering a new cybersecurity bill that contains many of the provisions that civil liberties groups hated about the Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). Most notably, under the proposed bill companies could not be sued for incorrectly sharing too much customer information with the federal government, and broad law enforcement sharing could allow for the creation of backdoor wiretaps. The bill, called the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014, was written by Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and is currently circulating around the committee right now but has not yet been introduced. Right now, the bill is only a 'discussion draft,' and the committee is still looking to make revisions to the bill before it is officially introduced."

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AOL Finally Admits They Were Hacked
Posted by News Fetcher on April 29 '14 at 12:46 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's change-the-password-on-your-coasters department:
pdclarry writes: "Anyone managing email servers or lists has suspected for several weeks a major hack of AOL's servers, based on a sudden spurt in spam ostensibly from AOL email addresses (but actually spoofed) and sent to the contact lists of those AOL accounts. Of course, there is a steady stream of such spam from hacked individual accounts on many services, but the magnitude and suddenness of the most recent spam attack argues against individual account invasions. Well, AOL has finally come clean. Apparently unknown individuals accessed AOL's servers and took screen names, account information including mailing addresses, contact lists, encrypted passwords and encrypted answers to security questions. And possibly credit card information. AOL claims that it affects 'only' 2% of their members, but recommends that everyone change their passwords and security questions."

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FCC Proposes $48,000 Fine To Man Jamming Cellphones On Florida Interstate
Posted by News Fetcher on April 29 '14 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can-you-hear-me-now department:
New submitter freddieb writes: "An individual who had been jamming cellphone traffic on interstate 4 in Florida was located by FCC agents with the assistance of Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputies. The individual had reportedly been jamming cellphone traffic on I-4 for two years. The FCC is now proposing a $48,000 fine for his actions. They say the jamming 'could and may have had disastrous consequences by precluding the use of cell phones to reach life-saving 9-1-1 services provided by police, ambulance, and fire departments.'"

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Star Wars: Episode VII Cast Officially Announced
Posted by News Fetcher on April 29 '14 at 11:31 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's starring department:
eldavojohn writes: "Word was leaking this week of some familiar faces in London hanging out together. Finally today an official cast listing for Star Wars Episode VII was handed down from on high to us mere mortals (Google Cache and Onion AV recap available). From the short release, 'Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film.' Let's not bicker and argue about who shot first but instead come to an agreement on expected levels of almost certain disappointment. No, this will not feature the Expanded Universe (EU) — you can now refer to those tales as 'Legends' which are not part of Star Wars canon. Instead prepare yourself for what will likely be the mother of all retcon films."

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New Zero-Day Flash Bug Affects Windows, OS X, and Linux Computers
Posted by News Fetcher on April 29 '14 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-can-count-on-flash department:
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the Kaspersky Lab have uncovered a zero-day Adobe Flash vulnerability that affects Windows, OS X, and Linux. 'While the exploit Kaspersky observed attacked only computers running Microsoft Windows, the underlying flaw, which is formally categorized as CVE-2014-1776 and resides in a Flash component known as the Pixel Bender, is present in the Adobe application built for OS X and Linux machines as well.' Adobe has reportedly patched the bug for all platforms. Researchers first detected the bug from attacks performed on seven Syrian computers. The attacks seem to have been hosted on the Syrian Ministry of Justice website, which has led to speculation that these are state-sponsored vulnerability exploits. This speculation is further supported by evidence that one of the exploits was 'designed to target computers that have the Cisco Systems MeetingPlace Express Add-In version 5x0 installed. The app is used to view documents and images during Web conferences.'"

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Ask Slashdot: Intelligently Moving From IT Into Management?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 29 '14 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's no-snarking-about-impossibility department:
MightyMartian (840721) writes "I've been working for an organization now for over seven years, my best run yet. A couple of years ago, the company went through some major changes and I bought in as an owner and as a managing director; my responsibilities encompassing administration, finance and IT. It's a small (20 employee or so, plus nearly that many with subcontracting companies) organization so needless to say I retained my direct IT responsibilities.

My fellow board members have decided that I need to detach myself from the day to day IT operations and take over more management duties; in particular in the finance and budgeting end of things. Right now I'm in the process of interviewing a new IT system administrator who will, over time, take on most of my IT roles. However, since this has been a one-man shop for seven years; namely my shop, I confess some reservations about handing over the keys and moving permanently up to the top floor.

Does anybody have any suggestions on the level of permissions for servers, networks and infrastructure I should start with? Do I, for the moment, retain some of the critical functionality; like superuser passwords, and slowly move the new system administrator into his or her role, or do I move more quickly, give him the basics and then let him fly on his own?"


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After a Long wait, GNU Screen Gets Refreshed
Posted by News Fetcher on April 29 '14 at 09:46 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's s-in-gnu's-not-unix-stands-for department:
New submitter jostber (304257) writes "It's been a long wait, but now GNU Screen, the most useful CLI windows manager around, is available. Version 4.2.1 was released a couple of days ago and the maintainer's release news is here." There are fewer commits than you might expect for software that's had six years since its last major update, but that could be because the developers have had 23 years to knock out the major bugs.

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Firefox 29: Redesign
Posted by News Fetcher on April 29 '14 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's take-cover,-mozilla department:
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla today officially launched Firefox 29 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. This is a massive release: Firefox Sync has been revamped and is now powered by Firefox Accounts, there's a new customization mode, and the company's major user interface overhaul Australis has finally arrived. 'The tabs are sleek and smooth to help you navigate the Web faster. It’s easy to see what tab you’re currently visiting and the other tabs fade into the background to be less of a distraction when you’re not using them. The Firefox menu has moved to the right corner of the toolbar and puts all your browser controls in one place. The menu includes a “Customize” tool that transforms Firefox into a powerful customization mode where you can add or move any feature, service or add-on.' Here are the full release notes and a demo video."

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