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Updated: 16 hours 35 min ago

Red Hat CEO Publishes Open Source Management Memoir

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 8:35am
ectoman writes: Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst has just published The Open Organization, a book that chronicles his tenure as leader of the world's largest open source company. The book aims to show other business leaders how open source principles like transparency, authenticity, access, and openness can enhance their organizations. It's also filled with information about daily life inside Red Hat. Whitehurst joined Red Hat in 2008 after leaving Delta Airlines, and he says his time working in open source has changed him. "I thought I knew what it took to manage people and get work done," he writes in The Open Organization. "But the techniques I had learned, the traditional beliefs I held for management and how people are taught to run companies and lead organizations, were to be challenged when I entered the world of Red Hat and open source." All proceeds from the book benefit the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Opensource.com is hosting free book club materials.

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Obama Asks Congress To Renew 'Patriot Act' Snooping

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 7:54am
mi writes: President Obama has asked the Senate to renew key Patriot Act provisions before their expiration on May 31. This includes surveillance powers that let the government collect Americans' phone records. Obama said, "It's necessary to keep the American people safe and secure." The call came despite recent revelations that the FBI is unable to name a single terror case in which the snooping provisions were of much help. "Obama noted that the controversial bulk phone collections program, which was exposed by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, is reformed in the House bill, which does away with it over six months and instead gives phone companies the responsibility of maintaining phone records that the government can search." Obama criticized the Senate for not acting on that legislation, saying they have necessitated a renewal of the Patriot Act provisions.

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Heat Wave Kills More Than 1,100 In India

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 7:12am
An anonymous reader sends word that a week-long heat wave in India has resulted in the deaths of more than 1,100 people. Temperatures reached 47C (117F) on Monday and are expected to stay dangerously high throughout the week. The heat and extreme dryness are being accompanied by strong westerly winds. "About one-third of the country's 1.2 billion people have access to electricity, meaning millions are enduring the blistering heat without relief." The local power grid has been struggling under high demand from fans and air conditioning. In some states, citizens are being advised to stay indoors during the middle of the day, when the sun is at its peak. Many hope the upcoming monsoons will return temperatues to less dangerous levels.

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Clinton Foundation: Kids' Lack of CS Savvy Threatens the US Economy

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 6:30am
theodp writes: As the press digs for details on Clinton Foundation donations, including a reported $26+ million from Microsoft and Bill Gates, it's probably worth noting the interest the Clintons have developed in computer science and the role they have played — and continue to play — in the national K-12 CS and tech immigration crisis that materialized after Microsoft proposed creating such a crisis to advance its 'two-pronged' National Talent Strategy, which aims to increase K-12 CS education and the number of H-1B visas. Next thing you know, Bill is the face of CS at the launch of Code.org. Then Hillary uses the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) conference to launch a Facebook, Microsoft, and Google initiative to boost the ranks of female and students of color in CS, and starts decrying woeful CS enrollment. Not to be left out, Chelsea keynotes the NCWIT Summit and launches Google's $50M girls-only Made With Code initiative with now-U.S. CTO Megan Smith. And last December, the Clinton Foundation touted its initiatives to engage middle school girls in CS, revamp the nation's AP CS program, and retrain out-of-work Americans as coders. At next month's CGI America 2015, the conference will kick off with a Beer Bust that CGI says "will also provide an opportunity to learn about Tech Girls Rock, a CGI Commitment to Action launched by CA Technologies in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America that helps girls discover an interest in tech-related educational opportunities and careers." On the following days, CGI sessions will discuss tech's need for a strong and diverse talent pipeline for computer and information technology jobs, which it says is threatened by "the persistent poor performance of American students in science, technology, engineering, and math," presenting "serious implications for the long-term competitiveness of the U.S. economy." So what's the long-term solution? Expanding CS education, of course!

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SpaceX Cleared For US Military Launches

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 5:37am
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Air Force has given private rocket company SpaceX clearance to launch military satellites into orbit. This disrupts the lock that Boeing and Lockheed Martin have had on military launches for almost a decade. SpaceX will get its first opportunity to bid for such launches in June, when the Air Force posts a contract to launch GPS satellites.

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A Text Message Can Crash An iPhone and Force It To Reboot

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 4:55am
DavidGilbert99 writes with news that a bug in iOS has made it so anyone can crash an iPhone by simply sending it a text message containing certain characters. "When the text message is displayed by a banner alert or notification on the lockscreen, the system attempts to abbreviate the text with an ellipsis. If the ellipsis is placed in the middle of a set of non-Latin script characters, including Arabic, Marathi and Chinese, it causes the system to crash and the phone to reboot." The text string is specific enough that it's unlikely to happen by accident, and users can disable text notification banners to protect themselves from being affected. However, if a user receives the crash-inducing text, they won't be able to access the Messages app without causing another crash. A similar bug crashed applications in OS X a few years ago.

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Volvo Self-Parking Car Hits People Because Owner Didn't Pay For Extra Feature

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 4:13am
schwit1 writes: A video that recently went viral shows a demonstration of a Volvo XC60's self-parking feature. It reverses itself, waits, and then confidently drives into a group of people at a non-negligible speed. (Two were hit, and while both were bruised, they were otherwise OK.) The situation was presumed to have resulted from a malfunction with the car — but the car might not have had the ability to recognize a human at all. A Volvo representative said the car was not equipped with the "Pedestrian detection" feature. That feature is sold as a separate package.

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Insurer Won't Pay Out For Security Breach Because of Lax Security

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 1:15am
chicksdaddy writes: In what may become a trend, an insurance company is denying a claim from a California healthcare provider following the leak of data on more than 32,000 patients. The insurer, Columbia Casualty, charges that Cottage Health System did an inadequate job of protecting patient data. In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in California, Columbia alleges that the breach occurred because Cottage and a third party vendor, INSYNC Computer Solution, Inc. failed to follow "minimum required practices," as spelled out in the policy. Among other things, Cottage "stored medical records on a system that was fully accessible to the internet but failed to install encryption or take other security measures to protect patient information from becoming available to anyone who 'surfed' the Internet," the complaint alleges. Disputes like this may become more common, as insurers anxious to get into a cyber insurance market that's growing by about 40% annually use liberally written exclusions to hedge against "known unknowns" like lax IT practices, pre-existing conditions (like compromises) and so on.

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Ask Slashdot: Will Technology Disrupt the Song?

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 10:10pm
An anonymous reader writes: The music industry has gone through dramatic changes over the past thirty years. Virtually everything is different except the structure of the songs we listen to. Distribution methods have long influenced songwriting habits, from records to CDs to radio airplay. So will streaming services, through their business models, incentivize a change to song form itself? Many pop music sensations are already manufactured carefully by the studios, and the shift to digital is providing them with ever more data about what people like to listen to. And don't forget that technology is a now a central part of how such music is created, from auto-tune and electronic beats to the massive amount of processing that goes into getting the exact sound a studio wants.

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How To Die On Mars

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 8:05pm
An anonymous reader writes: Many space-related projects are currently focusing on Mars. SpaceX wants to build a colony there, NASA is looking into base design, and Mars One is supposedly picking astronauts for a mission. Because of this, we've been reading a lot about how we could live on Mars. An article at Popular Science reminds us of all the easy ways to die there. "Barring any complications with the spacecraft's hardware or any unintended run-ins with space debris, there's still a big killer lurking out in space that can't be easily avoided: radiation. ... [And] with so little atmosphere surrounding Mars, gently landing a large amount of weight on the planet will be tough. Heavy objects will pick up too much speed during the descent, making for one deep impact. ... Mars One's plan is to grow crops indoors under artificial lighting. According to the project's website, 80 square meters of space will be dedicated to plant growth within the habitat; the vegetation will be sustained using suspected water in Mars' soil, as well as carbon dioxide produced by the initial four-member crew. However, analysis conducted by MIT researchers last year (PDF) shows that those numbers just don't add up."

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Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Patent Troll

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 6:01pm
An anonymous reader writes: The Supreme Court ruled today (PDF) that Cisco Systems can't skip out of a patent suit against them from patent troll Commil USA. The case reached the Supreme Court because Cisco argued it had a "good faith belief" that the patent they were infringing was invalid. The justices voted 6-2 that such a belief didn't matter if they were indeed infringing. The Supreme Court's opinion is that a company must know of the patent it's infringing, and that their product infringes upon the patent — which, at least, is more than what Commil was pushing. The case isn't completely over — a $63.7 million verdict in Commil's favor was overturned by an Appeals Court, and now the Supreme Court has sent it back down for re-evaluation after it clarified the rules of infringement. The Appeals Court could still overturn the judgment for some other reason. The good news is that the Supreme Court dedicated a page in their opinion to telling lower courts how to sanction patent trolls and keep them from clogging the courts with ridiculous claims. "[I]t is still necessary and proper to stress that district courts have the authority and responsibility to ensure frivolous cases are dissuaded."

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Creationists Manipulating Search Results

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 3:59pm
reallocate writes: It looks like some Creationists are manipulating search results to ensure websites pushing religion are appearing in response to queries about science. Ask Google "What happened to the dinosaurs?" and you'll see links to Creationist sites right at the top. (And, right now, several hits to sites taking note of it.) Google has a feedback link waiting for you to use it.

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Why PowerPoint Should Be Banned

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 3:14pm
An anonymous reader writes: An editorial at the Washington Post argues that Microsoft PowerPoint is being relied upon by too many to do too much, and we should start working to get rid of it. "Its slides are oversimplified, and bullet points omit the complexities of nearly any issue. The slides are designed to skip the learning process, which — when it works — involves dialogue, eye-to-eye contact and discussions. Of course PowerPoint has merits — it can help businesses with their sales pitches or let teachers introduce technology into the classroom. But instead of being used as a means for a dynamic engagement, it has become a poor substitute for longer, well-thought-out briefings and technical reports. It has become a crutch."

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Mandriva Goes Out of Business

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 2:30pm
An anonymous reader writes: After struggling for the past several years, Mandriva has finally gone out of business, and is in the process of being liquidated. The company was responsible for Mandriva Linux, itself a combination of Mandrake Linux and Conectiva Linux. When Mandriva fell upon hard times, many of the distro's developers migrated to Mageia Linux, which is still going strong and just putting the final touches on its next major version (5).

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Russian Space Agency Misused $1.8 Billion, May Be Replaced

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 1:45pm
An anonymous reader writes: After a pair of high profile launch failures in the past few months, Russian space agency Roscosmos is making headlines again: this time for corruption. A public spending watchdog reported that the organization had misused 92 billion rubles ($1.8 billion) in 2014 alone. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said their space efforts have been undermined by rampant corruption. "We have uncovered acts of fraud, abuse of authority (and) document forgery. With such a level of moral decay, one should not be surprised at the high accident rate." He also said Roscosmos is to be "abolished," and replaced by a state corporation of the same name by the end of the year. "In its new, corporate identity, Roscosmos will be responsible not only for setting mission goals but managing wages for space industry workers and modernizing production facilities."

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IRS: Personal Info of 100,000 Taxpayers Accessed Illegally

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 1:03pm
An anonymous reader writes: The Associated Press reports that an online service provided by the IRS was used to gather the personal information of more than 100,000 taxpayers. Criminals were able to scrape the "Get Transcript" system to acquire tax return information. They already had a significant amount of information about these taxpayers, though — the system required a security check that included knowledge of a person's social security number, date of birth, and filing status. The system has been shut down while the IRS investigates and implements better security, and they're notifying the taxpayers whose information was accessed.

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Amtrak Installing Cameras To Watch Train Engineers

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 12:20pm
An anonymous reader writes: In the aftermath of the derailment of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia a couple weeks ago, the company has caved to demands that it install video cameras to monitor and record the actions of the engineers driving their trains. The National Transportation Safety Board has been recommending such cameras for the past five years. Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman says the cameras will improve train safety, though the engineers' union disagrees. In 2013, the union's president said, "Installation of cameras will provide the public nothing more than a false sense of security. More than a century of research establishes that monitoring workers actually reduces the ability to perform complex tasks, such as operating a train, because of the distractive effect."

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Microsoft Bringing Cortana To iOS, Android

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 11:37am
An anonymous reader writes: While many big tech companies have their own personal assistant software these days, few of them are available on a broad variety of devices. Microsoft has now announced that it's becoming one of those few: Cortana will be available for iOS and Android devices later this year. It's part of an initiative by the company to ensure Windows 10 plays well with all sorts of devices, even phones made by the other major manufacturers. Microsoft said, "Regardless of the operating systems you choose across your devices – everything important to you should roam across the products you already own – including your phone." This led them to develop a "Phone Companion app," built into Windows 10, that's designed to help sync a user's PC with his phone.

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Linux/Moose Worm Targets Routers, Modems, and Embedded Systems

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 10:54am
An anonymous reader writes: Security firm ESET has published a report on new malware that targets Linux-based communication devices (modems, routers, and other internet-connected systems) to create a giant proxy network for manipulating social media. It's also capable of hijacking DNS settings. The people controlling the system use it for selling "follows," "likes," and so forth on social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Facebook, and Google+. Affected router manufacturers include: Actiontec, Hik Vision, Netgear, Synology, TP-Link, ZyXEL, and Zhone. The researchers found that even some medical devices were vulnerable to the worm, though it wasn't designed specifically to work with them.

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Building Hospitable Open Source Communities (Video)

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 10:10am
This is an 11 minute excerpt from an hour-long video, contributed by long-time Slashdot user Erik Möller. This video is the moving picture equivalent of the typical Slashdot summary of a text article, complete with a link to the main article, which in this case is a video (over an hour long) at PassionateVoices.org. Erik's interviewee, Sumana Harihareswara, is also a long-time Slashdot reader who claims (admits?) that she met her husband through a Slashdot link, albeit indirectly. She's spent most of the past decade working with open source, much of it as a community leader. If you are in a leadership role in an open source community or plan to lead one someday, you may want to listen to the complete interview. Sumana has many useful things to say about how open source communities should -- and shouldn't -- be run.

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