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The Almighty Buck

Apple Has Too Much Money 570

Hugh Pickens writes "AP reports that last week during a question-and-answer session at the company's annual shareholders' meeting CEO Tim Cook said he believes Apple has more money than it needs and his next challenge is to figure out whether Apple should break from the cash-hoarding ways of his predecessor, the late Steve Jobs, and dip into its $98 billion bank account to pay shareholders a dividend this year. 'Frankly speaking, it's more than we need to run the company.' The question of how to handle Apple's cash stockpile is a touchy one, partly because company co-founder Jobs had steadfastly brushed aside suggestions that the company restore its quarterly dividend which Jobs suspended in 1995 when it was in such deep trouble that it needed to hold on to every cent to keep from going bankrupt. Marketwatch analyst Mark Hulbert writes that a compelling case can be made that a huge cash hoard actually represents grave danger for Apple. That's because too much cash often burns a hole in managers' pockets, and they end up doing a poor job of investing that cash—engaging instead in foolish pursuits like empire building. Hulbert adds that a good strategy for ensuring that Apple remains a hungry, growth-oriented entrepreneurial company might be for it to distribute much of its cash to shareholders."

Pakistan Looking For Homegrown URL Blocking System 97

chicksdaddy writes "Tech-enabled filtering and blocking of Web sites and Internet addresses that are deemed hostile to repressive regimes has been a major political and human rights issue in the last year, as popular protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria erupted. Now it looks as if Pakistan's government is looking for a way to strengthen its hand against online content it considers undesirable. According to a request for proposals from the National ICT (Information and Communications and Technologies) R&D Fund, the Pakistani government is struggling to keep a lid on growing Internet and Web use and is looking for a way to filter out undesirable Web sites. The 'indigenous' filtering system would be 'deployed at IP backbones in major cities, i.e., Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad,' the RFP reads (PDF). It would be 'centrally managed by a small and efficient team stationed at POPs of backbone providers,' and must be capable of supporting 100Gbps interfaces and filtering Web traffic against a block list of up to 50 million URLs without latency of more than 1 millisecond."

North Korea's High-Tech Counterfeit $100 Bills 528

ESRB writes "North Korea is apparently able to produce high-quality counterfeits of U.S. dollars — specifically $100 and $50 bills. It's suspected that they possess similar printing technologies as the U.S. and buy ink from the same Swedish firm. 'Since the superdollars were first detected about a decade ago, the regime has been pocketing an estimated $15 to $25 million a year from them. (Other estimates are much higher — up to several hundred million dollars' worth.)' The article also advocates a move to all-digital payment/transfers by pointing out both forms are only representations of value and noting it would cripple criminal operations such as drug cartels, human traffickers, and so forth."

Last Day To Tell Google To Forget You 238

itwbennett writes "Google's new privacy policy will consolidate all your data at — unless you erase it first. And today is your last day to do it. The change goes into effect tomorrow. Which is why the helpful folks at EFF have posted some simple instructions showing how to delete your web history at Google."

DHS Budget Includes No New Airport Body Scanners 70

OverTheGeicoE writes "The Electronic Privacy Information Center has been examining the White House's proposed budget for Department of Homeland Security for 2013, and they point out that it doesn't include any money for additional airport body scanners for TSA. Did the recent scandal involving TSA workers targeting women for scans make the White House realize that TSA is a national embarrassment? Does the executive branch finally understand the questionable safety and effectiveness of these devices? Or does DHS just think it has enough scanners once TSA installs the 250 new scanners in this year's budget?"

Tech Billionaire-Backed Charter School Under Fire In Chicago 326

theodp writes "'As a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm,' boasts the billionaire-backed NewSchools Venture Fund, 'we raise philanthropic capital from both individual and institutional investors, and then use those funds to support education entrepreneurs who are transforming public education.' One recipient of the NewSchools' largesse is The Noble Network of Charter Schools, which received a $5,300,000 NewSchools 'investment', as well as a $1,425,000 grant from NewSchools donor Bill Gates. One way that Noble Street College Prep has been transforming education, reports the Chicago Tribune, is by making students pay the price — literally — for breaking the smallest of rules (sample infractions). Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel defended Noble after a FOIA filing revealed the charter collected almost $190,000 in discipline 'fees' — not 'fines' — last year from its mostly low-income students, saying the ironically exempt-from-most-district-rules charter school gets 'incredible' results and parents don't have to send their children there. Beyond the Noble case, some are asking a bigger question: Should billionaires rule our schools?"
Open Source

Hackers In Space: Designing A Ground Station 95

An anonymous reader writes with some new information on the happenings of the Hacker Space Program. From the article: "At the Chaos Communication Camp 2011 Jens Ohlig, Lars Weiler, and Nick Farr proposed a daunting task: to land a hacker on the Moon by 2034. The plan calls for three separate phases: Establishing an open, free, and globally accessible satellite communication network, put a human into orbit, and land on the Moon. Interestingly enough, there is already considerable work being done on the second phase of this plan by the Copenhagen Suborbitals, and Google's own Lunar X Prize is trying to spur development of robotic missions to the Moon. But what about the first phase? Answering the call is the 'Shackspace,' a hackerspace from Stuttgart, Germany, who've begun work on an ambitious project they're calling the 'Hackerspace Global Grid.'"

Google Seeks To Plant Antenna Farm In Iowa 98

1sockchuck writes "Google is seeking permission to place satellite antennas on land near its data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The 4.5 meter antennas could be used to receive content feeds from broadcast networks that could be bundled with a high-speed fiber service. The FCC filings were made by Google Fiber, which is currently laying fiber for a high-speed network in Kansas City that will provide Internet connectivity 'at speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have today.'"

Georgia Tech iPhone App Could Help Blind Users Text 60

MojoKid writes "Researchers at Georgia Tech university have built a prototype app for touch-screen mobile devices that is vying to be a complete solution for texting without the need to look at a mobile gadget's screen. In theory, it should greatly help the blind interact with mobile phones, but it could help just about anyone looking for a more efficient way to interact. Research has shown that gesture-based texting is a viable solution for eyes-free written communication in the future, making obsolete the need for users to look at their devices while inputting text. The free open-source app, called BrailleTouch, incorporates the Braille writing system used by the visually impaired. Early studies with visually impaired participants proficient in Braille typing have demonstrated that users can input up to 32 words per minute with 92 percent accuracy with the prototype app for the iPhone."

Intel Gets Serious With Solar-powered CPU Tech 74

angry tapir writes "Intel's experimental solar-powered processor may have started off as a fun project, but the chip maker is now looking to extend the technology to hardware such as graphics processors, memory and floating point units. Intel last year showed the low-power processor — charged only by the light from a reading lamp — running Windows and Linux PCs. Intel is expected to share further details about the processor, which is code-named Claremont, at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco. The company is also expected to reveal information about efforts to integrate wireless capabilities into Atom chips for mobile devices."

Flash Memory, Not Networks, Hamper Smartphones Most 121

Lucas123 writes "New research shows that far more than wireless network or CPUs, the NAND flash memory in cell phones, and in particular smartphones, affects the device's performance when it comes to loading apps, surfing the web and loading and reading documents. In tests with top-selling 16GB smartphones, NAND flash memory slowed mobile app performance from two to three times with one exception, Kingston's embedded memory card; that card slowed app performance 20X. At the bottom of the bottleneck is the fact that while network and CPUs speeds have kept pace with mobile app development, flash throughput hasn't. The researchers from Georgia Tech and NEC Corp. are working on methods to improve flash performance (PDF), including using a PRAM buffer to stage writes or be used as the final location for the SQLite databases."

Ask Slashdot: Life After Software Development? 416

An anonymous reader writes "I've been writing database apps for various industries as the senior developer or tech lead on a given project for most of the past 20 years. The last few years have become particularly taxing as I struggle to reiterate basic concepts to the same technically illiterate managers and stakeholders who keep turning up in charge. While most are knowledgeable about the industries our software is targeting, they just don't get the mechanics of what we do and never will. After so many years, I'm tired of repeating myself. I need a break. I need to walk away from it, and want to look at doing something that doesn't focus heavily on the IT industry day in, day out. Unfortunately, I'm locked to a regional city and I've just spent the majority of my adult life coding, with no other major skills to fall back on. While I'm not keen on remaining in front of a screen, I wouldn't be averse to becoming a tech user and consumer, rather than a creator. Are there similar Slashdotters out there who have made the leap of faith away from tech jobs and into something different? If so, where did you end up? Is there a life after IT for people who are geeks at heart? Apart from staying in my current job, is there any advice for someone who can't really risk the mortgage and kid's education on a whim?"
Open Source

Ford and Bug Labs Shipping OpenXC Beta Kits 58

MojoKid writes "OpenXC is an open source connectivity platform developed in tandem by Ford and open source hardware maker Bug Labs. Announced this fall, the platform is designed to allow developers the ability to use Android- and Arduino-based modules to interact with a vehicle's in-car tech, such as vehicle sensors and GPS units. The OpenXC website succinctly describes the platform as 'an API to your car.' Ford announced that OpenXC beta test kits are now shipping to developers worldwide, including U.S. institutions such as MIT and Standford as well as India's HCL Technologies."

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