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7.1 Billion People, 7.1 Billion Mobile Phone Accounts Activated

Slashdot - Tue, 05/13/2014 - 17:37
Freshly Exhumed (105597) writes "Tomi Ahonen's newly released 2014 Almanac reveals such current mobile phone industry data gems as: 'The mobile subscription rate is at or very very nearly at 100%. For 7.1 Billion people alive that means 7.1 Billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide.' Compared with other tech industries, he says: 'Take every type of PC, including desktops, laptops, netbooks and tablet PCs and add them together. What do we have? 1.5 Billion in use worldwide. Mobile is nearly 5 times larger. Televisions? Sure. We are now at 2 Billion TV sets in use globally. But mobile has 3.5 times users.' Which mobile phone OS is the leader? ''Android has now utterly won the smartphone platform war with over 80% of new sales. Apple's iPhone has peaked and is in gradual decline at about 15% with the remnant few percent split among Windows, Blackberry and miscellaneous others.'"

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Ask Slashdot: Minimum Programming Competence In Order To Get a Job?

Slashdot - Tue, 05/13/2014 - 16:59
First time accepted submitter Wisecat (3651085) writes "So we all know that computer programming jobs are hot right now. Heck, even President Obama has been urging Americans to learn the skill. But all of us in tech know that not everyone can hack it, and what's more it takes a while to learn anything, and keep up your skills as technology changes. Add to that the fact that companies (and their hiring managers) are always looking for 'the best of the best of the best' talent, and one starts to wonder: just how good does one actually have to BE to get hired? Certainly, there must be plenty of jobs where a level 7/10 programmer would be plenty good enough, and even some that a level 5/10 would be enough. And perhaps we can agree that a level 2/10 would not likely get hired anywhere. So the question is: given that we have such huge demand for programmers, can a level 5, 6, or 7 ever get past the hiring manager? Or is he doomed to sit on the sidelines while the position goes unfilled, or goes to someone willing to lie about their skill level, or perhaps to an H1-B who will work cheaper (but not necessarily better)? 'm a hardware engineer with embedded software experience, and have considered jumping over to pure software (since there are so many jobs, so much demand) but at age 40, and needing to pick a language and get good at it, I wonder whether it would even be possible to get a job (with my previous work experience not being directly related). Thoughts?"

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Categories: Tech/Science News

US Navy Develops World's Worst E-reader

Slashdot - Tue, 05/13/2014 - 16:16
First time accepted submitter Dimetrodon (2714071) writes "It is an unspoken rule of military procurement that any IT or communications technology will invariably be years behind what is commercially available or technically hobbled to ensure security. One case in point is the uncomfortably backronymed NeRD, or Navy e-Reader Device, an electronic book so secure the 300 titles it holds can never be updated. Ever."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Researchers Find, Analyze Forged SSL Certs In the Wild

Slashdot - Tue, 05/13/2014 - 15:27
An anonymous reader writes "A group of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Facebook has managed to get a concrete sense of just how prevalent SSL man-in-the-middle attacks using forged SSL certificates are in the wild. Led by Lin-Shung Huang, PhD candidate at Carnegie Mellon University and, during the research, an intern with the Facebook Product Security team, they have created a new method (PDF) for websites to detect these attacks on a large scale: a widely-supported Flash Player plugin was made to enable socket functionalities not natively present in current browsers, so that it could implement a distinct, partial SSL handshake to capture forged certificates."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

EU Court of Justice Paves Way For "Right To Be Forgotten" Online

Slashdot - Tue, 05/13/2014 - 14:45
Mark.JUK (1222360) writes "The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has today ruled that Google, Bing and others, acting as internet search engine operators, are responsible for the processing that they carry out of personal data which appears on web pages published by third parties. As a result any searches made on the basis of a person's name that returns links/descriptions for web pages containing information on the person in question can, upon request by the related individual, be removed. The decision supports calls for a so-called 'right to be forgotten' by Internet privacy advocates, which ironically the European Commission are already working to implement via new legislation. Google failed to argue that such a decision would be unfair because the information was already legally in the public domain."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Oil Man Proposes Increase In Oklahoma Oil-and-Gas Tax

Slashdot - Tue, 05/13/2014 - 14:04
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Daniel Gilbert reports at the WSJ that Oklahoma oil man George Kaiser is breaking with fellow energy executives in asking the state to raise taxes on oil companies, including his own. 'Oklahoma is in desperate financial circumstances,' says the billionaire who controls Kaiser-Francis Oil Co. Kaiser says a higher tax on oil-and-gas production could help the state pay for education and much needed infrastructure improvements, and is asking legislators to return the state's gross production tax to 7 percent, challenging a plan proposed by fellow oil company executives who want to see the rate settle at 2 percent for the first four years of production. Several energy companies and the State Chamber of Oklahoma say that lower tax rates for the costliest oil and gas wells are necessary to continue drilling at a pace that has stimulated economic activity and created other sources of revenue. Berry Mullennix, CEO at Tulsa-based Panther Energy, credits the tax program for helping his company grow to more than 90 employees, up from 18 a few years ago. 'I would argue the tax incentive is a direct reason we have so much horizontal drilling in the state today,' Mullennix says ... When companies decide to drill a well, they make their best guesses on how much it will cost to drill the well, how much the well will produce and what the commodity price will be. All of those estimates can vary widely, Kaiser says. 'With ad valorem taxes, the difference among states is 2 or 3 or 4 percent. The other factors can vary by 50 or 100 percent.' Compared with those other factors, Kaiser says the tax rate is incidental. 'It's a rounding error.'"

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Flawless Compilation

The Daily WTF - Tue, 05/13/2014 - 12:00

Back in the heady days of Internet speculation, the giant retailer JumboStores contracted with Fred’s software company, TinyWeb, to develop the region’s first web-based supermarket. Customers would be able to assemble carts online and receive their groceries the next day.

The virtual supermarket had to communicate with JumboStores’s inventory system in real-time. The former was bleeding-edge web technology, the latter a cobweb-laden mainframe with no external point of access.

“How will we get around this?” Fred asked early in the specification process.

“We can stage an intermediate server.” Nick, a programmer from JumboStores IT, assured him around a mouthful of doughnut. “You guys send your requests there, we’ll write software to forward them to the mainframe and back.”

Fred was optimistic. Both companies were *nix shops; the JumboStores IT department were his geek kindred. Equally optimistic, JumboStores management scheduled a live media demo several months out, well after the estimated project completion date.

Deadlines slipped, as they are wont to do. The week before the big demo, the online supermarket still wasn’t ready. TinyWeb had implemented the website and database back-end, but JumboStores’ relay software lagged behind. At the urging of multiple strata of nervous managers, Fred took an emergency trip to JumboStores to investigate.

“We don’t know, man, we just don’t know.” The confident Nick of months prior shook now, leading Fred to his cubicle. “We coded the application. We debugged until it compiled without errors. When we run it- core dump!” He threw up his hands, then dropped into his swivel chair. “We’ve been pestering IBM support, but they haven’t been very helpful.”

“Well, why would they be?” Fred frowned, pausing at the cube threshold. “I mean, who knows what might be wrong with the code?”

“Nothing’s wrong with it. It compiles!”

“So? It could still have errors.”

Nick swiveled around to face him. “Dude. It compiles.

Fred faltered in the wake of Nick’s earnest insistence. “That… doesn’t mean the code is perfect.” He all but fell into the spare chair presented to him. “How do I explain this?” Am I actually trying to explain this? To a programmer? “Let’s say you’re building an engine.”

“This isn’t an engine,” Nick said. “It just passes-“

“No, a car engine! OK? You have all the parts spread out on the desk here.” He waved his arm out over a layer of branded cube toys and post-it notes. “You’ve never built an engine from scratch before, but you have a blueprint with pictures and directions, so you grab your wrench and your welder and whatever, and go to town. At the end, all the parts get used up, and the result looks vaguely engine-like. Still, would you expect to drop it under the hood and have it start up flawlessly the first time you turn over the ignition?”

Nick stared. “I… don’t see what this has to do with anything.”

Fred refrained from smacking his forehead. “Uh, OK. Forget the engine. It’s like sheet music. Just because all the dots are on the staff doesn’t mean it’s the song you want.“

“Dude! The compiler would bug out if there were any problems.” Nick graciously omitted the Duh.

Fred took one last chance. “No- it’s like, if you were building a house. Just because all the parts fit together doesn’t mean it will stand up.”

Nick’s face brightened. “It’s like the home inspector! I see what you mean."

“If that works for you…” Fred said, carefully.

After long consideration, Fred took the intermediate server back home to TinyWeb for some down-to-the-wire recoding, resulting in a flawless demo for the press. JumboStores was delighted.

With their collaboration at an end, Fred wondered how JumboStores IT would ever manage on their own.

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Categories: Fun/Other

Can Google Influence Elections?

Slashdot - Tue, 05/13/2014 - 11:07
KindMind (897865) writes "From the Washington Post: 'Psychologist Robert Epstein has been researching [how much influence search engines have on voting behavior] and says he is alarmed at what he has discovered. His most recent experiment, whose findings were released Monday, : found that search engines have the potential to profoundly influence voters without them noticing the impact ... Epstein, former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today and a vocal critic of Google, has not produced evidence that this or any other search engine has intentionally deployed this power. But the new experiment builds on his earlier work by measuring SEME (Search Engine Manipulation Effect) in the concrete setting of India's national election, whose voting concludes Monday.'"

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Standards Group Adds Adaptive-Sync To DisplayPort

Slashdot - Tue, 05/13/2014 - 08:53
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Over the past nine months, we've seen the beginnings of a revolution in how video games are displayed. First, Nvidia demoed G-Sync, its proprietary technology for ensuring smooth frame delivery. Then AMD demoed its own free standard, dubbed FreeSync, that showed a similar technology. Now, VESA (Video Electronics Standard Association) has announced support for "Adaptive Sync," as an addition to DisplayPort. The new capability will debut with DisplayPort 1.2a. The goal of these technologies is to synchronize output from the GPU and the display to ensure smooth output. When this doesn't happen, the display will either stutter due to a mismatch of frames (if V-Sync is enabled) or may visibly tear if V-Sync is disabled. Adaptive Sync is the capability that will allow a DisplayPort 1.2a-compatible monitor and video card to perform FreeSync without needing the expensive ASIC that characterizes G-Sync. You'll still need a DP1.2a cable, monitor, and video card (DP1.2a monitors are expected to ship year end). Unlike G-Sync, a DP1.2a monitor shouldn't cost any additional money, however. The updated ASICs being developed by various vendors will bake the capability in by default."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

The Truth About OpenGL Driver Quality

Slashdot - Tue, 05/13/2014 - 06:01
rcht148 (2872453) writes "Rich Geldreich (game/graphics programmer) has made a blog post on the quality of different OpenGL Drivers. Using anonymous titles (Vendor A: Nvidia; Vendor B: AMD; Vendor C: Intel), he plots the landscape of game development using OpenGL. Vendor A, jovially known as 'Graphics Mafia' concentrates heavily on performance but won't share it's specifications thus blocking any open source driver implementations as much as possible. Vendor B has the most flaky drivers. They have good technical know-how on OpenGL but due to an extremely small team (money woes), they have shoddy drivers. Vendor C is extremely rich. It had not taken graphics seriously until a few years ago. They support open source specifications/drivers wholeheartedly but it will be few years before their drivers come to par with market standards. He concludes that using OpenGL is extremely difficult and without the blessings of these vendors, it's nearly impossible to ship a major gaming title."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

New Zealand Spy Agency To Vet Network Builds, Provider Staff

Slashdot - Tue, 05/13/2014 - 03:49
Bismillah (993337) writes "The new Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act of 2013 is in effect in New Zealand and brings in several drastic changes for ISPs, telcos and service providers. One of the country's spy agencies, the GCSB, gets to decide on network equipment procurement and design decisions (PDF), plus operators have to register with the police and obtain security clearance for some staff. Somewhat illogically, the NZ government pushed through the law combining mandated communications interception capabilities for law enforcement, with undefined network security requirements as decided by the GCSB. All network operators are subject to the new law, including local providers as well as the likes of Facebook, Google, Microsoft, who have opposed it, saying the new statutes clash with overseas privacy legislation."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Canadian Teen Arrested For Calling In 30+ Swattings, Bomb Threats

Slashdot - Tue, 05/13/2014 - 02:05
tsu doh nimh (609154) writes "A 16-year-old male from Ottawa, Canada has been arrested for allegedly making at least 30 fraudulent calls — including bomb threats and 'swattings' — to emergency services across North America over the past few months. Canadian media isn't identifying the youth because of laws that prevent the disclosure, but the alleged perpetrator was outed in a dox on Pastebin that was picked up by journalist Brian Krebs, who was twice the recipient of attempted swat raids at the hand of this kid. From the story: 'I told this user privately that targeting an investigative reporter maybe wasn't the brightest idea, and that he was likely to wind up in jail soon. But @ProbablyOnion was on a roll: That same day, he hung out his for-hire sign on Twitter, with the following message: "want someone swatted? Tweet me their name, address and I'll make it happen."'"

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Categories: Tech/Science News

What Caused a 1300-Year Deep Freeze?

Slashdot - Tue, 05/13/2014 - 01:30
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Things were looking up for Earth about 12,800 years ago. The last Ice Age was coming to an end, mammoths and other large mammals romped around North America, and humans were beginning to settle down and cultivate wild plants. Then, suddenly, the planet plunged into a deep freeze, returning to near-glacial temperatures for more than a millennium before getting warm again. The mammoths disappeared at about the same time, as did a major Native American culture that thrived on hunting them. A persistent band of researchers has blamed this apparent disaster on the impact of a comet or asteroid, but a new study concludes that the real explanation for the chill, at least, may lie strictly with Earth-bound events."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

How To Approve the Use of Open Source On the Job

Slashdot - Tue, 05/13/2014 - 00:52
New submitter Czech37 (918252) writes "If you work in an organization that isn't focused on development, where computer systems are used to support other core business functions, getting management buy-in for the use of open source can be tricky. Here's how an academic librarian negotiated with his management to get them to give open source software a try, and the four phrases he recommends you avoid using." "Open Source," "Free [Software]," "Contribute," and "Development" appear to scare managers away.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

GM Sees a Market For $5/Day Dedicated In-Car Internet

Slashdot - Tue, 05/13/2014 - 00:10
An anonymous reader writes "$5 doesn't sound like much for a day of internet service in some contexts: it's less than you might pay for it in-flight, and less than a few espresso drinks if you're lured in by a coffee shop's Wi-Fi service. But not all internet service is created equal; would you pay $5 for a month of in-car internet service if it meant a 200-meg cap, which is (only) 'enough to stream more than 6.5 hours of music?' That's where a new dedicated Internet service from GM starts (also at the WSJ, paywalled), and it's $10 for drivers who aren't also OnStar subscribers. Probably a more likely option for the occasional road trip, though, is $5 per day service (no OnStar requirement) for 250MB of data. Why wouldn't someone just use a smartphone with a data plan, or a dedicated hotspot device? GM thinks they'll be drawn to 'a powerful antenna that's stronger than that of a smartphone, along with a Wi-Fi hotspot that operates without draining a mobile device's battery. That hotspot is on any time the car is on.'"

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Categories: Tech/Science News

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