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Businesses

Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers 441

Posted by Soulskill
from the right-in-the-pride dept.
theodp writes Following up on news that the White House met with big biz on immigration earlier this month, Bloomberg sat down with Joe Green, the head of Mark Zuckerberg's Fwd.US PAC, to discuss possible executive actions President Obama might take on high tech immigration (video) in September. "Hey, Joe," asked interviewer Alix Steel. "All we keep hearing about this earnings season though from big tech is how they're actually cutting jobs. If you look at Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, why do the tech companies then need more tech visas?" Green explained why tech may not want to settle for laid-off U.S. talent when the world is its oyster. "The difference between someone who's truly great and just sort of okay is really huge," Green said. "Culture in tech is a very meritocratic culture," he added. "The vast, vast majority of tech engineers that I talked to who are from the United States are very supportive of bringing in people from other countries because they want to work with the very best."
Spam

Couchsurfing Hacked, Sends Airbnb Prank Spam 44

Posted by timothy
from the or-we'll-shoot-this-dog dept.
Slashdot regular (and Couchsurfing.org volunteer) Bennett Haselton writes with a report that an anonymous prankster hacked the Couchsurfing.org website and sent spam to about 1 million members, snarkily advertising their commercial arch-rival Airbnb as "the new Couchsurfing." (Read on below for more on the breach.) As of now, the spam's been caught, but not the spammer.
Security

Researchers Find Security Flaws In Backscatter X-ray Scanners 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the raise-your-hand-if-you're-surprised dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from UC San Diego, University of Michigan, and Johns Hopkins say they've found security vulnerabilities in full-body backscatter X-ray machines deployed to U.S. airports between 2009 and 2013. In lab tests, the researchers were able to conceal firearms and plastic explosive simulants from the Rapiscan Secure 1000 scanner, plus modify the scanner software so it presents an "all-clear" image to the operator even when contraband was detected. "Frankly, we were shocked by what we found," said lead researcher J. Alex Halderman. "A clever attacker can smuggle contraband past the machines using surprisingly low-tech techniques."
Businesses

Comcast Training Materials Leaked 251

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-to-be-a-jerk-in-3-easy-steps dept.
WheezyJoe writes: The Verge reports on leaked training manuals from Comcast, which show how selling services is a required part of the job, even for employees doing tech support. The so-called "4S training material" explicitly states that 20 percent of a call center employee's rating for a given call is dependent on effectively selling the customer new Comcast services. "There are pages of materials on 'probing' customers to ferret out upsell opportunities, as well as on batting aside customer objections to being told they need to buy something. 'We can certainly look at other options, but you would lose which you mentioned was important to you,' the guide suggests clumsily saying to an angry customer who doesn't want to buy any more Comcast services." Images of the leaked documents are available on the Verge, making for fun reading.
Announcements

Introducing Slashdot's New Build Section 34

Posted by timothy
from the show-us-your-basement dept.
Along with the rest of the mix that makes this site work, Slashdot has nearly two decades now of spotting and showing off interesting projects, inventions, technologies, and hobbies. Some of them are strictly personal, some are frankly commercial, and some are the fruits of ambitious organizations (or tiny teams) motivated by curiosity and passion (or even politics, or just plain fun). As outlined earlier, we've been gathering a lot of these into our new Build section; read on to learn a bit more about what that includes. (And watch out later today for the first part of our conversation with technology-inspiring Rennaisance Man Tim O'Reilly, and later in the week for answers to the questions you asked Bunnie Huang.)
Earth

Iceland's Seismic Activity: A Repeat Show for Atmospheric Ash? 69

Posted by timothy
from the orange-is-the-new-ash dept.
In 2010, ash spewed into the atmosphere by the volcano beneath Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull glacier grounded European air traffic for days (and, partially, for weeks). As reported by The Guardian, a series of similarly situated earthquakes may herald a similar ash-ejecting erruption, and the country has raised its volcano risk to its second-most-severe rating (orange). From the article: Iceland met office seismologist Martin Hensch said the risk of any disruptive ash cloud similar to the one in 2010 would depend on how high any ash would be thrown, how much there would be and how fine-grained it would be. Bardarbunga is Iceland's largest volcanic system, located under the ice cap of the Vatnajokull glacier in the southeast of Iceland. It is in a different range to Eyjafjallajokull. The met office said in a statement it measured the strongest earthquake in the region since 1996 early on Monday and it now had strong indications of ongoing magma movement. "As evidence of magma movement shallower than 10km implies increased potential of a volcanic eruption, the Bardarbunga aviation colour code has been changed to orange," it said. "Presently there are no signs of eruption, but it cannot be excluded that the current activity will result in an explosive subglacial eruption, leading to an outburst flood and ash emission." ... Hensch said the biggest risk in Iceland itself was from flood waves from any eruption under the glacier. He said the area of Iceland mainly at risk of flooding was mostly uninhabited but that roads in the area had been closed.
Technology

Delaware Enacts Law Allowing Heirs To Access Digital Assets of Deceased 82

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the facebook-after-death dept.
An anonymous reader writes Ars reports: "Delaware has become the first state in the U.S .to enact a law that ensures families' rights to access the digital assets of loved ones during incapacitation or after death." In other states, the social media accounts and email of people who die also die with them since the companies hosting those accounts are not obligated to transfer access even to the heirs of the deceased. In Delaware, however, this is no longer the case. The article notes that even if the deceased was a resident of another state, if his/her will is governed by Delaware law, his/her heirs will be allowed to avail of the new law and gain access to all digital assets of the deceased.
Data Storage

The Data Dome: A Server Farm In a Geodesic Dome 62

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-it-cool dept.
1sockchuck writes In a unique approach to data center design, the new high-performance computing center in Oregon is housed in a geodesic dome. The new facility at the Oregon Health and Science University requires no mechanical air conditioning, using outside air to racks of servers reaching densities of 25kW per cabinet. The design uses an aisle containment system to separate hot and cold air, and can recirculate server exhaust heat to adjust cold aisle temperatures in the winter. It's a very cool integration of many recent advances in data center design, combining elements of the Yahoo Chicken Coop and server silo in Quebec. The school has posted a virtual tour that provides a deep technical dive.
The Internet

Ask Slashdot: Would You Pay For Websites Without Trolls? 382

Posted by samzenpus
from the play-nice dept.
First time accepted submitter carbon_tet writes I read two articles this week that made me wonder: "Would anyone actually pay for a website without trolls?" The first, was about web trolls and civility on the internet, and the second about the ad-based internet. It seems that public comments unavoidably have trolls, or they degrade very quickly until someone makes a reference to Hitler. So, is it impossible to have a substantive discussion online without trolls? Would you put your money where your mouth is to have a serious online conversation without them? Are there any topics that you would talk about (or prefer to see talked about) on a website where trolls were paywalled out?
Crime

Feds: Red Light Camera Firm Paid For Chicago Official's Car, Condo 115

Posted by samzenpus
from the red-light-red-light dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The former CEO of Redflex, a major red light camera vendor, and John Bills, former Managing Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Transportation, have been indicted on federal corruption charges stemming from a contract with the City of Chicago. According to the indictment, a friend of Bills was hired as a contractor and paid $2 million. Much of that money was then kicked back to Bills, who also got a Mercedes and a condominium via Redflex employees. The defendants are facing 23 counts including: mail fraud, wire fraud, and bribery. Each fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years."
Science

Researchers Discover New Plant "Language" 70

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-does-the-ficus-say? dept.
An anonymous reader writes A Virginia Tech scientist has discovered a potentially new form of plant communication, that allows them to share genetic information with one another. Jim Westwood, a professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science, found evidence of this new communication mode by investigating the relationship between dodder, a parasitic plant, and the flowering plant Arabidopsis and tomato plants to which it attaches and sucks out nutrients with an appendage called a haustorium. Westwood examined the plants' mRNA, the molecule in cells that instructs organisms how to code certain proteins that are key to functioning. MRNA helps to regulate plant development and can control when plants eventually flowers. He found that the parasitic and the host plants were exchanging thousands of mRNA molecules between each other, thus creating a conversation.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: What Recliner For a Software Developer? 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the twelve-foot-diameter-bean-bag dept.
Taxilian writes We've talked about office chairs before, but I'm one of those coders who tends to relax by doing more coding. Particularly when I'm short on time for a project, I like to move my work to where I am still around my wife and children so that I can still interact with them and be with my family, but still hit my deadlines. I have used various recliners and found that programming in them (at least in evenings) can be quite comfortable, but haven't felt like I really found the 'ideal chair' for relaxing and working on my Macbook.

I have found references to failed chairs (like La-Z-Boy Explorer, the so-called "E-cliner") that were intended for tech and failed, but are there any existing and useful options? I'd really like something that provides some sort of lap desk (to keep the heat from the laptop away from me) and reasonable power arrangements while still being comfortable and not looking ridiculous in a normal family room.
Sci-Fi

Where are the Flying Cars? (Video; Part Two of Two) 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the fly-me-to-the-moon dept.
Yesterday we ran Part One of this two-part video. This is part two. To recap yesterday's text introduction: Detroit recently hosted the North American Science Fiction Convention, drawing thousands of SF fans to see and hear a variety of talks on all sorts of topics. One of the biggest panels featured a discussion on perhaps the greatest technological disappointment of the past fifty years: Where are our d@%& flying cars? Panelists included author and database consultant Jonathan Stars, expert in Aeronautical Management and 20-year veteran of the Air Force Douglas Johnson, author and founder of the Artemis Project Ian Randal Strock, novelist Cindy A. Matthews, Fermilab physicist Bill Higgins, general manager of a nanotechnology company Dr. Charles Dezelah, and astrobiology expert Dr. Nicolle Zellner. As it turns out, the reality of situation is far less enticing than the dream -- but new technologies offer a glimmer of hope. (Alternate Video Link)
Books

Why the Public Library Beats Amazon 165

Posted by Soulskill
from the where-do-i-sign-up-for-library-Prime dept.
Nate the greatest writes: The launch of Kindle Unlimited last month has many questioning the value of public libraries, with one pundit on Forbes even going so far as to proclaim that the U.K. could save money by shuttering all its libraries and replacing them with Kindle Unlimited subscriptions. Luckily for libraries, they're safe for now because they still beat Kindle Unlimited and its competitors in at least one category: content you want to read. As several reviewers have noted, Kindle Unlimited is stocked almost entirely with indie titles, with a handful of major titles thrown in. Even Scribd and Oyster only have ebooks from two of the five major U.S. publishers, while U.S. public libraries can offer titles from all five. They might be expensive and you might have to get on a waiting list, but as the Wall Street Journal points out, public libraries are safe because they can still offer a better selection. That is true, but I think the WSJ missed a key point: public libraries beat Amazon because they offer services Amazon cannot, including in-person tech support, internet access, and other basic assistance. The fact of the matter is, you can't use KU, Scribd, or Oyster if you don't know how to use your device, and your local public library is the best place to learn.
The Military

Snowden: NSA Working On Autonomous Cyberwarfare Bot 194

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the bad-movie-plot dept.
WIRED published a long piece on Edward Snowden today (worth a read on its own), and simultaneously broke news of "MonsterMind," an NSA program to monitor all network traffic and detect attacks, responding with a counterattack automatically. From the article: Although details of the program are scant, Snowden tells WIRED in an extensive interview with James Bamford that algorithms would scour massive repositories of metadata and analyze it to differentiate normal network traffic from anomalous or malicious traffic. Armed with this knowledge, the NSA could instantly and autonomously identify, and block, a foreign threat. More than this, though, Snowden suggests MonsterMind could one day be designed to return fire — automatically, without human intervention... Snowden raised two issues with the program: the source of an attack could be spoofed to trick the U.S. into attacking an innocent third party, and the violation of the fourth amendment since the NSA would effectively need to monitor all domestic network traffic for the program to work. Also in Bamford's interview are allegations that the NSA knocked Syria offline in 2012 after an attempt to install intercept software on an edge router ended with the router being bricked.
Android

Android Motorcycle Helmet/HUD Gains Funding 126

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the 80s-future-realized dept.
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes Skully Systems has achieved Indiegogo funding for a high-tech Android 4.4 based motorcycle helmet with a head-up display (HUD), GPS navigation, and a 180-degree rearview camera. The Skully AR-1 helmet launched on Indiegogo on Aug. 10 and quickly blasted past its $250,000 flexible funding goal and has already surpassed $900,000 in funding. The helmet runs a heavily modified version of Android 4.4, with both screen size and safety in mind, according to Skully's Tow. 'You should not think of it as being Android as seen in a phone; it doesn't run the same skin,' wrote Tow on the Skully forum page. 'You instead should think of it as a variant of Linux, not Android per se. What counts is the device drivers, graphics rendering for our turn by turn directions and vehicle telemetry, etc. More nerdy things like communication over the I2C bus to the image processing module.' Helmets are available starting at $1,399, with shipments due in May 2015.
Businesses

Apple's Diversity Numbers: 70% Male, 55% White 561

Posted by Soulskill
from the one-button-issue dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Apple has released a diversity report on the genders and races of its employees. As is common in the tech industry, the majority of Apple's workforce is male — only three out of 10 employees around the globe are female. Broken down, males compose 65 percent of non-tech workers, 80 percent of tech workers, and 72 percent of Apple's leadership.

According to CEO Tim Cook, he's unhappy with Apple's diversity numbers and says Apple is working to improve them: "Apple is committed to transparency, which is why we are publishing statistics about the race and gender makeup of our company. Let me say up front: As CEO, I'm not satisfied with the numbers on this page. They're not new to us, and we've been working hard for quite some time to improve them. We are making progress, and we're committed to being as innovative in advancing diversity as we are in developing our products."
Communications

Gmail Now Rejects Emails With Misleading Combinations of Unicode Characters 79

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-look-forward-to-being-caught-in-your-new-web dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Google today announced it is implementing a new effort to thwart spammers and scammers: the open standard known as Unicode Consortium's "Highly Restricted" specification. In short, Gmail now rejects emails from domains that use what the Unicode community has identified as potentially misleading combinations of letters. The news today follows Google's announcement last week that Gmail has gained support for accented and non-Latin characters. The company is clearly okay with international domains, as long as they aren't abused to trick its users.
Businesses

The Fiercest Rivalry In Tech: Uber vs. Lyft 125

Posted by timothy
from the follow-that-car-driver dept.
onehitwonder (1118559) writes WSJ looks at the cantankerous rivalry between two popular ride-sharing companies, Uber and Lyft, and the dirty tactics each employs to weaken its opponent. Lyft, for example, alleges that representatives from Uber frequently order short rides from Lyft just to slow down Lyft's service and to try to poach its drivers. WSJ points out that the rivalry is more than just a made-for-TV competition: "It's a battle for a key role in the future of urban transportation." Lyft certainly isn't Uber's only rival, though, even setting aside conventional taxis and car services, even those two names are big in U.S. cities: its clash with Gett has reportedly involved tricks at least as dirty. Another way to look at the rivalry, too, is that the biggest clash is not between Uber and any other particular company, but rather between the various ride-calling / ride-sharing services taken together against the existing, regulated taxi and car-service companies they threaten.
Hardware Hacking

Microsoft Research Brings Kinect-Style Depth Perception to Ordinary Cameras 31

Posted by timothy
from the how-far-away-you-are dept.
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "Microsoft has been working on ways to make any regular 2D camera capture depth, meaning it could do some of the same things a Kinect does. As you can see in the video below the team managed to pull this off and we might see this tech all around in the near future. What's really impressive is that this works with many types of cameras. The research team used a smartphone as well as a regular webcam and both managed to achieve some impressive results, the cameras have to be slightly modified but that's only to permit more IR light to hit the sensor." The video is impressive, but note that so are several of the other projects that Microsoft has created for this year's SIGGRAPH, in particular one that makes first-person sports-cam footage more watchable.

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