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Uber Finally Accepts Cash -- For Autorickshaws In Delhi

Slashdot - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 20:57
An anonymous reader writes Car-hailing giant Uber has launched a new service called UberAUTO in Delhi, which will not only make no charge for hailing an autorickshaw, but will permit customers to pay cash for the first time in the company's history. As there seems to be no specific reason why the three-wheeled carriers should be exempt from Uber's online-only payment policy, the move invites speculation that the $40 billion firm is experimentig with unlocking another revenue stream.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

FTC Creates Office Dedicated To "Algorithmic Transparency"

Slashdot - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 20:20
jfruh writes When Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm filters a meme you posted out of your friends' feed, you might find that annoying. When your bank's algorithm denies you a mortgage, that has a serious effect on your life. But both kinds of algorithms are generally opaque to customers and regulators, and the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection has set up an office dedicated to figuring out these algorithms affect our lives and intersect with the law. Perhaps they can start with how the IRS selects people to audit, and whether constantly shifting TSA policies make sense.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Reason: How To Break the Internet (in a Bad Way)

Slashdot - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 19:39
Widespread public sentiment favors the FCC's move to impose rules intended to establish "net neutrality"; an anonymous reader writes with a skeptical viewpoint: "No decent person," write Geoffrey Manne and Ben Sperry in a special issue of Reason, "should be *for* net neutrality." Across the board, the authors write, letting the FCC dictate ISP business practices will result in everything they say they're trying to avoid. For instance, one of the best ways to route around a big firm's brand recognition is to buy special treatment in the form of promotions, product placement and the like (payola, after all, is how rock and roll circumvented major label contempt for the genre). That will almost certainly be forbidden under the FCC's version of neutrality.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

French TV Network TV5Monde Targeted In 'Pro-ISIS' Cyberattack

Slashdot - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 19:00
An anonymous reader writes French broadcaster TV5Monde [was] today working to regain control of its 11 television channels and online platforms after hackers claiming ties with the Islamic State hijacked its network on Wednesday evening, forcing the media group to show only pre-recorded content. The television network was able to return in part to its planned schedule by 1:00am (23:00 GMT) last night, after the hacking group had suspended its broadcast services for three hours. Yves Bigot, the Parisian company's director general, said that the network had been "severely damaged" by an "unprecedented attack" which would have taken weeks to prepare. The hacking group posted threats and shared a collection of files across TV5Monde's Facebook page which it claimed were copies of ID cards and CVs of relatives of French soldiers involved in anti-IS operations. More coverage at The Independent, which says the attack "revealed personal details of French soldiers."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Senate Draft of No Child Left Behind Act Draft Makes CS a 'Core' Subject

Slashdot - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 18:17
theodp (442580) writes "If at first you don't succeed, lobby, lobby again. That's a lesson to be learned from Microsoft and Google, who in 2010 launched advocacy coalition Computing in the Core, which aimed "to strengthen K-12 computer science education and ensure that computer science is one of the core academic subjects that prepares students for jobs in our digital society." In 2013, Computing in the Core "merged" with Code.org, a new nonprofit led by the next door neighbor of Microsoft's General Counsel and funded by wealthy tech execs and their companies. When Code.org 'taught President Obama to code' in a widely-publicized White House event last December, visitor records indicate that Google, Microsoft, and Code.org execs had a sitdown immediately afterwards with the head of the NSF, and a Microsoft lobbyist in attendance returned to the White House the next day with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and General Counsel Brad Smith (who also sits on Code.org's Board) in tow. Looks like all of that hard work may finally pay off. Education Week reports that computer science has been quietly added to the list of disciplines defined as 'core academic subjects' in the Senate draft of the rewritten No Child Left Behind Act, a status that opens the doors to a number of funding opportunities. After expressing concern that his teenage daughters hadn't taken to coding the way he'd like, President Obama added, "I think they got started a little bit late. Part of what you want to do is introduce this with the ABCs and the colors." So, don't be too surprised if your little ones are soon focusing on the four R's — reading, 'riting, 'rithmetic, and Rapunzel — in school!"

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Apple Leaves Chinese CNNIC Root In OS X and iOS Trusted Stores

Slashdot - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 17:31
Trailrunner7 writes When it was revealed late last month that a Chinese certificate authority had allowed an intermediate CA to issue unauthorized certificates for some Google domains, both Google and Mozilla reacted quickly and dropped trust in CNNIC altogether. Apple on Wednesday released major security upgrades for both of its operating systems, and the root certificate for CNNIC, the Chinese CA at the heart of the controversy, remains in the trusted stores for iOS and OS X. The company has not made any public statements on the incident or the continued inclusion of CNNIC's certificates in the trusted stores.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Apples Leaves Chinese CNNIC Root In OS X and iOS Trusted Stores

Slashdot - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 17:31
Trailrunner7 writes When it was revealed late last month that a Chinese certificate authority had allowed an intermediate CA to issue unauthorized certificates for some Google domains, both Google and Mozilla reacted quickly and dropped trust in CNNIC altogether. Apple on Wednesday released major security upgrades for both of its operating systems, and the root certificate for CNNIC, the Chinese CA at the heart of the controversy, remains in the trusted stores for iOS and OS X. The company has not made any public statements on the incident or the continued inclusion of CNNIC's certificates in the trusted stores.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Why Some Developers Are Live-Streaming Their Coding Sessions

Slashdot - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 16:50
itwbennett writes Adam Wulf recently spent two weeks live-streaming himself writing every line of code for a new mobile app. He originally started to live-stream as 'a fun way to introduce the code to the community.' But he quickly learned that it helps him to think differently than when he was coding without the camera on. "Usually when I work, so much of my thought process is internal monologue," he said, "but with live streaming I try to narrate my thought process out loud. This has forced me to think through problems a little differently than I otherwise would, which has been really beneficial for me."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Netflix Algorithm Tells You When Your Best Employee Is About To Leave You

Slashdot - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 16:06
An anonymous reader writes "Former Netflix data scientist Mohammad Sabah has used the basis of the video-streaming company's movie-recommendation engine to create a new system to predict when valuable employees are likely to leave your company for pastures new. The new application 'Workday Talent Insights' uses the basis of the engine to correlate diverse factors such as interval between promotions and current length of tenure with equivalent job opportunities at employment websites, in order to gauge 'corporate restlessness', and provide options for employers who identify potential leavers."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Did Natural Selection Make the Dutch the Tallest People On the Planet?

Slashdot - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 15:23
sciencehabit writes The Dutch population has gained an impressive 20 centimeters in the past 150 years and is now officially the tallest on the planet. Scientists chalk up most of that increase to rising wealth, a rich diet, and good health care, but a new study suggests something else is going on as well: The Dutch growth spurt may be an example of human evolution in action. The study shows that tall Dutch men on average have more children than their shorter counterparts, and that more of their children survive. That suggests genes that help make people tall are becoming more frequent among the Dutch. "This study drives home the message that the human population is still subject to natural selection," says Stephen Stearns, an evolutionary biologist at Yale University who wasn't involved in the work. "It strikes at the core of our understanding of human nature, and how malleable it is."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

ESA Rebukes EFF's Request To Exempt Abandoned Games From Some DMCA Rules

Slashdot - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 14:43
eldavojohn writes It's 2015 and the EFF is still submitting requests to alter or exempt certain applications of the draconian DMCA. One such request concerns abandoned games that utilized or required online servers for matchmaking or play (PDF warning) and the attempts taken to archive those games. A given examples is Madden '09, which had its servers shut down a mere one and a half years after release. Another is Gamespy and the EA & Nintendo titles that were not migrated to other servers. I'm sure everyone can come up with a once cherished game that required online play that is now abandoned and lost to the ages. While the EFF is asking for exemptions for museums and archivists, the ESA appears to take the stance that it's hacking and all hacking is bad. In prior comments (PDF warning), the ESA has called reverse engineering a proprietary game protocol "a classic wolf in sheep's clothing" as if allowing this evil hacking will loose Sodom & Gomorrah upon the industry. Fellow gamers, these years now that feel like the golden age of online gaming will be the dark ages of games as historians of the future try to recreate what online play was like now for many titles.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

The Courage of Bystanders Who Press "Record"

Slashdot - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 14:02
HughPickens.com writes Robinson Meyer writes in The Atlantic that in the past year, after the killings of Michael Brown and Tamir Rice, many police departments and police reformists have agreed on the necessity of police-worn body cameras. But the most powerful cameras aren't those on officer's bodies but those wielded by bystanders. We don't yet know who shot videos of officer officer, Michael T. Slager, shooting Walter Scott eight times as he runs away but "unknown cameramen and women lived out high democratic ideals: They watched a cop kill someone, shoot recklessly at someone running away, and they kept the camera trained on the cop," writes Robinson. "They were there, on an ordinary, hazy Saturday morning, and they chose to be courageous. They bore witness, at unknown risk to themselves." "We have been talking about police brutality for years. And now, because of videos, we are seeing just how systemic and widespread it is," tweeted Deray McKesson, an activist in Ferguson, after the videos emerged Tuesday night. "The videos over the past seven months have empowered us to ask deeper questions, to push more forcefully in confronting the system." The process of ascertaining the truth of the world has to start somewhere. A video is one more assertion made about what is real concludes Robinson. "Today, through some unknown hero's stubborn internal choice to witness instead of flee, to press record and to watch something terrible unfold, we have one more such assertion of reality."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

The Big Box Hot Box

The Daily WTF - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 13:00

The average big-box hardware store is like a small city. They have every piece of hardware or tool imaginable (except, of course, the one you’re looking for). You’ll find no less that 15 aisles of power tools stocked with everything from battery operated screwdrivers to arc welders. To store all these tools, you can purchase the 6-foot-tall rolling toolbox, with a 20-watt stereo, built-in beer chiller, wi-fi connectivity, and a Twitter or Facebook app. One aisle over, there’s row after row of pristine white toilets, occupied by a small army of playing children. Near the back of the store, nestled between endless rows of storm doors and windows is a quaint “grocery” section, as if someone uprooted and transplanted a gas station convenience store, and trimmed away all of the bits that weren’t junk food. Finally, outside the building, is the drive-thru lumber yard, where you drive to the end to purchase your 20 cubic feet of mulch and invariably get stuck behind an idling vehicle abandoned by a socially-clueless DIY-er who either disappeared on an epic quest to find help loading 200 short tons of bagged white river rock into his 1993 Ford Ranger, or more likely, thought it was a convenient parking spot while he left for an 8-week sabbatical on a mountain in Tibet.

Scott loved working in such a store while going to college for an IT degree. He didn’t work on the floor, where the poor retail staff dealt with angry customers trying to negotiate down the price of a few 2x4’s, or trying to return 1000 pounds of tile (which was clearly defective because it shattered when they dropped it on concrete). Scott was the store’s IT tech, doing all the tasks that Bob, the store’s “IT Associate” and self-proclaimed “computer expert”, should know how to do but didn’t.

Scott got an after-hours call that the computer system was entirely down, and Bob couldn’t figure out the problem. This was strange, since Bob was the “expert”. The small server closet, designed and installed by Bob, was supposed to be entirely redundant. The server had a hot spare and both systems had redundant power supplies.

“Scott, glad you’re here!” a panicked cashier greeted him as he ran into the store. “We can’t run any transactions and the customers are getting furious!”

Scott quickly made his way to the small closet in the back of the office area. Both servers were off, with no power at all. Pushing the power buttons did nothing. Meanwhile, he could hear irate customers with access to power tools and sledgehammers berating the helpless cashiers whose registers were offline.

He traced the power cables from the server and facepalmed when he discovered the problem. Each server had two power supplies. The first power supplies were plugged into a nice, long-corded surge protector, which connected to the wall outlet. The backup power supplies were plugged into a $3.50 power strip somebody had pulled from the store’s shelves. Those cords weren’t long enough to reach a separate outlet, thus it was plugged into… the first surge protector!

The room was fairly warm, and with the full load of two “redundant” circuits, the surge protector had overheated and tripped its breaker. Scott rewired the power supplies into an actual redundant fashion, reset the surge protector, and had the registers back up and running within half an hour. He called it a day and went back home.

Until an hour later, when the cashiers called him back in: everything was down again. Now that the servers didn’t die when it got mildly warm in the room, it had turned into a furnace. Bob, the “expert”, was busy trying to fan the heat out with a towel when Scott arrived. Scott set up one of the industrial fans in the store to ventilate the room and called maintenance to get someone to look at the HVAC system.

The fan got the servers cool enough to keep running, but Scott and Bob waited around to see what maintenance found. One of the technicians grabbed them. “Did you know the thermostat was set to 45ºF?”

“What?” Scott blurted.

“Of course,” Bob said. “Computers should be as cold as possible. They run better.”

“Not that cold!” Scott said.

“Well, you can’t keep them that cold,” the tech said. “The AC unit just runs continuously, and the coils get so cold that they start to freeze. Literally- your AC unit is a block of ice right now. Leave it off for a few hours, and then turn it back on at a reasonable temperature.”

That day, Bob and Scott followed their instructions, but Bob remained unconvinced about these warnings. As the seasons transitioned into summer, he cranked the thermostat lower and lower. Through the hottest months of the year, Bob caused six more heat-related outages as he did his best to destroy the AC unit. Fortunately, they worked in a hardware store. Scott installed a lock-box over the thermostat and told Bob that maintenance had done it.

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