Government

Bernie Sanders, Presidential Candidate and H-1B Skeptic 320

Posted by timothy
from the never-eat-or-hire-or-grow-fruit-outside-your-zipcode dept.
Presto Vivace writes: The H-1B visa issue rarely surfaces during presidential races, and that's what makes the entrance by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) into the 2016 presidential race so interesting. ... ...Sanders is very skeptical of the H-1B program, and has lambasted tech firms for hiring visa workers at the same time they're cutting staff. He's especially critical of the visa's use in offshore outsourcing.
United States

Inside the Military-Police Center That Spies On Baltimore's Rioters 179

Posted by timothy
from the cynics-were-optimists dept.
Lasrick writes: Adam Weinstein on a program designed to catch terrorists attacking Baltimore that is now being used to spy on protesters: 'On Ambassador Road, just off I-695 around the corner from the FBI, nearly 100 employees sit in a high-tech suite and wait for terrorists to attack Baltimore. They've waited 11 years. But they still have plenty of work to do, like using the intel community's toys to target this week's street protests.' Great read.
Bug

Long Uptime Makes Boeing 787 Lose Electrical Power 224

Posted by timothy
from the have-you-tried-turning-off-and-then-on-again? dept.
jones_supa writes: A dangerous software glitch has been found in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. If the plane is left turned on for 248 days, it will enter a failsafe mode that will lead to the plane losing all of its power, according to a new directive from the US Federal Aviation Administration. If the bug is triggered, all the Generator Control Units will shut off, leaving the plane without power, and the control of the plane will be lost. Boeing is working on a software upgrade that will address the problems, the FAA says. The company is said to have found the problem during laboratory testing of the plane, and thankfully there are no reports of it being triggered on the field.
Graphics

Square Enix Witch Chapter Real-Time CG DX12 Demo Impresses At Microsoft BUILD 79

Posted by timothy
from the killer-graphics dept.
MojoKid writes: Computer generated graphics have come a long way in the past several years and are starting to blur the line between animation and real actors. One of the more difficult tasks for CG artists is to recreate human emotions, especially crying, though you wouldn't know it after watching a tech demo that Square Enix showed off at the Microsoft BUILD Developer Conference. The real-time tech demo is called Witch Chapter 0 [cry] and is part of a research project that studies various next generation technologies. For this particular demo, Square Enix put a lot of research into real-time CG technology utilizing DirectX 12 in collaboration with Microsoft and NVIDIA, the company said. It's an ongoing project that will help form Square Enix's Luminous Studio engine for future games. The short demo shows some pretty impressive graphics, with an amazing level of detail. As the camera zooms in, you can clearly see imperfections in the skin, along with glistening effects from areas where the face is wet with either tears or water
Earth

Seafloor Sensors Record Possible Eruption of Underwater Volcano 19

Posted by timothy
from the good-time-to-be-shoreside dept.
vinces99 writes: Thanks to high-tech instruments installed last summer by the University of Washington to bring the deep sea online, what appears to be an eruption of Axial Volcano on April 23 was observed in real time by scientists on shore. "It was an astonishing experience to see the changes taking place 300 miles away with no one anywhere nearby, and the data flowed back to land at the speed of light through the fiber-optic cable ... in milliseconds," said John Delaney, a UW professor of oceanography who led the installation of the instruments as part of a larger effort sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Delaney organized a workshop on campus in mid-April at which marine scientists discussed how this high-tech observatory would support their science. Then, just before midnight on April 23 until about noon the next day, the seismic activity went off the charts. The gradually increasing rumblings of the mountain were documented over recent weeks by William Wilcock, a UW marine geophysicist who studies such systems. During last week's event, the earthquakes increased from hundreds per day to thousands, and the center of the volcanic crater dropped by about 6 feet in 12 hours. "The only way that could have happened was to have the magma move from beneath the caldera to some other location," Delaney said.
Spam

Want 30 Job Offers a Month? It's Not As Great As You Think 212

Posted by timothy
from the zippy-the-pinhead-is-always-hiring dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Software engineers suffer from a problem that most other industries wish they had: too much demand. There's a great story at the Atlantic entitled Imagine Getting 30 Job Offers a Month (It Isn't as Awesome as You Might Think). This is a problem that many engineers deal with: place your resume on a job board and proceed to be spammed multiple times per day for jobs in places that you would never go to (URGENT REQUIREMENT IN DETROIT!!!!!, etc). Google "recruiter spam" and there are many tales of engineers being overwhelmed by this. One engineer, fed up by a lack of a recruiting spam blackhole, set up NoRecruitingSpam.com with directions on how to stop this modern tech scourge. Have you been the victim of recruiting spam?
Government

NSA Reform Bill Backed By Both Parties Set To Pass House of Representatives 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-stop-yelling dept.
HughPickens.com writes: The NY Times reports that after more than a decade of wrenching national debate over the intrusiveness of government intelligence agencies, a bipartisan wave of support has gathered to sharply limit the federal government's sweeps of phone and Internet records. A bill that would overhaul the Patriot Act and curtail the metadata surveillance exposed by Edward Snowden overwhelmingly passed the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of a 25-2, and is heading to almost certain passage in the House of Representatives. An identical bill in the Senate — introduced with the support of five Republicans — is gaining support over the objection of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is facing the prospect of his first policy defeat since ascending this year to majority leader. "The bill ends bulk collection, it ends secret law," says Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the original author of the Patriot Act who has now helped author the Freedom Act. "It increases the transparency of our intelligence community and it does all this without compromising national security."

The Patriot Act is up for its first reauthorization since the revelations about bulk data collection. The impending June 1 deadline for reauthorization, coupled with an increase of support among members of both parties, pressure from technology companies and a push from the White House, have combined to make changes to the provisions more likely. The Snowden disclosures, along with data breaches at Sony Pictures, Target and the insurance giant Anthem, have unsettled voters and empowered those in Congress arguing for greater civil liberties protection — who a few years ago "could have met in a couple of phone booths," says Senator Ron Wyden. The Freedom Act very nearly passed both chambers of Congress last year, but it failed to garner the 60 votes to break a filibuster in the Senate. It fell short by two votes.

However some say the bill doesn't go far enough. The bill leaves intact surveillance programs conducted by the Drug Enforcement Agency and levies high penalties against those offering "material support" to terrorists. It also renews the expiring parts of the Patriot Act through 2019. "This bill would make only incremental improvements, and at least one provision – the material-support provision – would represent a significant step backwards," says American Civil Liberties Union Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer. "The disclosures of the last two years make clear that we need wholesale reform."
Open Source

How an Open Standard API Could Revolutionize Banking 72

Posted by samzenpus
from the cheap-money dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Open bank data will give us the freedom to access all banks in real time and from a single view, automatically calculating the best deals in complete transparency, which will be a significant step forward for social good and give people more control over their finances. Meanwhile, financial tech incubators, accelerators, and startups are creating a more experienced talent pool of developers ready to act upon these newly available assets. From the article: "The United Kingdom government has commissioned a study of the feasibility of UK banks giving customers the ability to share their transactional data with third parties via an open standard API. First mentioned alongside the autumn statement back in December, the chancellor has now outlined plans for a mandatory open banking API standard during the recent budget in March."
Security

Once a Forgotten Child, OpenSSL's Future Now Looks Bright 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the shot-in-the-arm dept.
Trailrunner7 writes: Rarely does anything have a defined turning point in its history, a single day where people can point and say that was the day everything changed. For OpenSSL, that day was April 7, 2014, the day that Heartbleed became part of the security lexicon. Heartbleed was a critical vulnerability in the venerable crypto library. OpenSSL is everywhere, in tens of thousands of commercial and homespun software projects. And so too, as of last April, was Heartbleed, an Internet-wide bug that leaked enough memory that a determined hacker could piece together anything from credentials to encryption keys.

"Two years ago, it was a night-and-day difference. Two years ago, aside from our loyal user community, we were invisible. No one knew we existed," says Steve Marquess, cofounder, president and business manager of the OpenSSL Foundation, the corporate entity that handles commercial contracting for OpenSSL. "OpenSSL is used everywhere: hundreds, thousands of vendors use it; every smartphone uses it. Everyone took that for granted; most companies have no clue they even used it." To say OpenSSL has been flipped on its head—in a good way—is an understatement.

Heartbleed made the tech world realize that the status quo wasn't healthy to the security and privacy of ecommerce transactions and communication worldwide. Shortly after Heartbleed, the Core Infrastructure Initiative was created, uniting The Linux Foundation, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Dell, Google and other large technology companies in funding various open source projects. OpenSSL was the first beneficiary, getting enough money to hire Dr. Steve Henson and Andy Polyakov as its first full-timers. Henson, who did not return a request to be interviewed for this article, is universally known as the one steady hand that kept OpenSSL together, an unsung hero of the project who along with other volunteers handled bug reports, code reviews and changes.
The Internet

Comcast Brings Fiber To City That It Sued 7 Years Ago To Stop Fiber Rollout 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery dept.
An anonymous reader writes with the latest update in Comcast's "if you can't beat them, join them" fiber plan. In April 2008, Comcast sued the Chattanooga Electric Power Board (EPB) to prevent it from building a fiber network to serve residents who were getting slow speeds from the incumbent cable provider. Comcast claimed that EPB illegally subsidized the buildout with ratepayer funds, but it quickly lost in court, and EPB built its fiber network and began offering Internet, TV, and phone service. After EPB launched in 2009, incumbents Comcast and AT&T finally started upgrading their services, EPB officials told Ars when we interviewed them in 2013. But not until this year has Comcast had an Internet offering that can match or beat EPB's $70 gigabit service. Comcast announced its 2Gbps fiber-to-the-home service on April 2, launching first in Atlanta, then in cities in Florida and California, and now in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
United States

US Senate Targets Patent Trolls 56

Posted by timothy
from the crimes-of-opportunity dept.
New submitter jeffkoch writes: Last year, the United States Senate failed to pass bipartisan legislation to combat patent trolls when it was killed by then-Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Congressional-insider newspaper Roll Call reports today that, "Knowing Reid would no longer control the Senate's legislative schedule in 2015, staff for John Cornyn, (a Republican from Texas), and Charles E. Schumer, (a Democrat from New York)", began work in February to assemble a new bill and to build support among fellow members of the Senate. Patent law is usually not a partisan issue, and President Barack Obama has called for getting an overhaul to his desk on several occasions including in his 2014 State of the Union speech. The last overhaul of United States patent law, the America Invents Act, took several years to be developed. The U.S. Congress is likely to act on the proposed legislation before they recess in August. "Patent trolls are taking a system meant to drive innovation and instead using it to stifle job-creating businesses around the country. Main Street stores, tech startups and more are being smothered by the abuse that is all too common in our patent system, and it's time for that to end," Schumer said in a statement. "This bipartisan bill shifts the legal burden back onto those who would abuse the patent system in order to make a quick buck at the expense of businesses that are playing by the rules."
Government

Tech Credited With Reducing Nigerian Election Death Toll 58

Posted by timothy
from the pat-answers dept.
jfruh writes: Dozens died in the runup to Nigeria's most recent election — a shocking statistic to many Westerners, but a relief in comparison to the much more serious violence that plagued earlier elections. Observers are crediting technology with making the election safer: the use of biometric IDs gave voters more confidence in the results, and social media gave people a chance to blow of anger that might've otherwise results in street brawls.
IBM

IBM CIO Thinks Agile Development Might Save Company 208

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-laid-plans dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: A new Wall Street Journal article details how IBM CIO Jeff Smith is trying to make Big Blue, which is going through some turbulent times as it attempts to transition from a hardware-dependent business to one that more fully embraces the cloud and services, operate more like a startup instead of a century-old colossus. His solution centers on having developers work in smaller teams, each of which embraces Agile methodology, as opposed to working in huge divisions on multi-year projects. In order to unite employees who might be geographically dispersed, IBM also has its groups leave open a Skype channel throughout the workday. Smith hopes, of course, that his plan will accelerate IBM's internal development, and make it more competitive against not only its tech-giant competition, but also the host of startups working in common fields such as artificial intelligence.
Transportation

Crashing iPad App Grounds Dozens of American Airline Flights 262

Posted by Soulskill
from the have-you-tried-pushing-the-button dept.
infolation writes: American Airlines was forced to delay multiple flights on Tuesday night after the iPad app used by pilots crashed. Introduced in 2013, the cockpit iPads are used as an "electronic flight bag," replacing 16kg (35lb) of paper manuals which pilots are typically required to carry on flights. In some cases, the flights had to return to the gate to access Wi-Fi to fix the issue.
Medicine

Who Owns Pre-Embryos? 368

Posted by Soulskill
from the faceless-corporations-of-course dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Scientifically and legally, frozen embryos are not the same as a living child. Nevertheless, they can inspire legal battles that resemble custody disputes. This article follows a case between a couple who had been dating for five months when the woman received a cancer diagnosis. Before beginning chemotherapy, she and her boyfriend of five months decided to harvest and set aside some fertilized eggs, just in case. (If the treatment saved her but destroyed her ability to have kids, and the couple stayed together and decided they wanted kids, the pre-embryos would preserve that option.) She survived, but their relationship didn't. With no explicit contract in place, the disposition/custody of the pre-embryos is now hotly contested. "[R]eading over the case, one gets the sense that there's a fundamental lack of language to describe what's at stake. There may be an emerging field of law and legal precedent, but the terms at hand don't adequately capture the nature of the dispute."