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Intel Announces Devil's Canyon Core I7-4790K: 4GHz Base Clock, 4.4GHz Turbo

Slashdot - Tue, 06/03/2014 - 15:30
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Last year, Intel launched two new processor families based on the Haswell and Ivy Bridge-E based Core i7 architecture. Both chips were just incremental updates over their predecessors. Haswell may have delivered impressive gains in mobile, but it failed to impress on the desktop where it was only slightly faster than the chip it replaced. Enthusiasts weren't terribly excited about either core but Intel is hoping its new Devil's Canyon CPU, which launches today, will change that. The new chip is the Core i7-4790K and it packs several new features that should appeal to the enthusiast and overclocking markets. First, Intel has changed the thermal interface material from the paste it used in the last generation over to a new Next Generation Polymer Thermal Interface Material, or as Intel calls it, "NGPTIM." Moving Haswell's voltage regulator on-die proved to be a significant problem for overclockers since it caused dramatic heat buildup that was only exacerbated by higher clock speeds. Overclockers reported that removing Haswell's lid could boost clock speeds by several hundred MHz. The other tweak to the Haswell core is a great many additional capacitors, which have been integrated to smooth power delivery at higher currents. This new chip gives Haswell a nice lift. If the overclocking headroom delivers on top of that, enthusiasts might be able to hit 4.7-4.8GHz on standard cooling."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Tracking Tesla's Quiet Changes To the Model S

Slashdot - Tue, 06/03/2014 - 14:47
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Tesla won't reveal its production figures every quarter, but it has now likely built about 50,000 all-electric Model S luxury sport sedans. Unlike other automakers, Tesla doesn't group its changes to a model year, rather it makes running changes to cars whenever updates are tested, validated, and ready to roll out. Which raises the question, are model year 2012 Model S sedans already outdated? The answer is it depends how you look at it. From a powertrain perspective, no. There are still two battery-size options and the shape is still the same. But under the surface of the car there are a surprisingly number of updates and new options. Not including software changes which there are dozens of and are pushed to the car, changes range from power folding mirrors and a new cold-weather package (which cannot be retrofitted) to a new ultra-high-fidelity sound package and three-zone, three-mode rear seat heaters. It's worth noting that none of these are mandatory changes--there are merely options that have been added to the roster of available equipment."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Whistleblowers Enter the Post-Snowden Era

Slashdot - Tue, 06/03/2014 - 14:03
Presto Vivace (882157) writes GovExec Magazine reporting on the aftermath of Snowden's disclosures: '...At the Intelligence Community's Office of the Inspector General, Meyer told Government Executive that a communitywide policy directive signed in March by the director of the Office of National Intelligence "is an affirmative statement that you have to blow the whistle" upon encountering wrongdoing, noting that in the past it was seen as an option. The new directive, he added, "shows firm support for the IC IG Whistleblowing program that actively promotes federal whistleblowing through lawful disclosures, which ultimately strengthens our nation's security." The key to the campaign of openness to whistleblowers, as distinct from criminal leakers and publicity seekers, Meyer stresses, is that it "must aid the agency mission. It is developmental and helps all stakeholders understand that we have rules in effect," he added. Meyer is expecting a bow wave of whistleblower retaliation cases (which can involve punishments ranging from demotion to pay cuts to required psychiatric evaluation) to come through his office directly or through a hotline in the coming months.' Given the realities of the insider threat program and war on whistleblowers I can't say that I am optimistic about the new directive."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Half Credit

The Daily WTF - Tue, 06/03/2014 - 12:15

“I didn’t buy ten cylinders of CO2! Why is PCard telling me I did?”

There were a pile of tickets in Adam’s queue, slightly larger than the proverbial molehill, but nowhere near mountain status either. Several employees saw incorrect charges on their purchasing cards, including one of the VPs. The first suspicion was fraud, but these charges looked legitimate: plane tickets to cities where the company had plants, raw materials purchases from vendors the plants usually did business with, etc. Since a VP was impacted, this confusion needed to be resolved ASAP, which meant Adam was pulling long hours to fix it.

“PCard” was the name for the purchasing card application. The purpose of the tool was to allow managers and executives validate the purchases made on the purchasing cards, and determine if they really belonged there or should have had a purhase order. It was one of Adam’s nuisance products, simply because it mostly worked fine- but minor issues were viewed as “my hair’s on fire” class emergencies. The only silver lining was that the application was considered “mature”, which meant that in three months, support would move to a much cheaper offshore team.

The bulk of the application’s logic was an SSIS package. BankCo, the bank which provided the purchasing cards, handled all of the billing and payments, but didn’t provide any sort of reporting on purchases. They did provide a steady feed of flat-files. It true enterprise IT fashion, these files ping-ponged across a series of SFTP servers and network shares until they dropped in a folder that the SSIS package monitored.

Adam started with the bank. Over the phone, they assured him that the charges were correct, and that the problem must be in how Adam’s tool processed the data. Adam wasn’t convinced, but he agreed to examine the import job in detail.

The job imported two major files. The first was a record of every purchasing card issued by BankCo:

4916086563859697 Bobsen Joebob 032015… 4916410586003002 Bobsen Sallybob 052015…

The first column was the card number, and the remaining columns contained all of the important metadata- holder, expiration date, date issued, etc. The SSIS job just blindly grabbed this data and jammed it into a table called PCARDS . The schema of the table was nearly identical to the flat file, save for an additional column called PC4, which contained the 4-digit suffix of the card number.

The second file was the actual list of transactions:

9697 Office Max 473.75 04272014… 9697 HmtpnInnSuites 578.95 03192014… 3002 CndaGas Co. 1047.20 05162014…

Again, the PTRANS table was nearly identical to this file format. For relational integrity, the 4-digit suffix linked this table to the underlying purchasing card. The fact that transactions keyed off of the last four digits of the card number immediately caught Adam’s eye. He checked the purchasing card table and confirmed that several cards did have the same 4-digit suffix.

Adam called the bank. “You’ve issued our company multiple cards with the same suffix, but when you send us transactions, the only identifier you send us is the last four digits. So we can’t actually tell which card that transaction is for.”

“That’s impossible. There should never be any repeats in the suffix.”

“And yet,” Adam said, “there are. Can you cahnge the file to send us the whole card number, instead?”

“No! Too many companies depend on the format staying the way it is. We’re not going to make a custom format for you.”

“Couldn’t you add a column at the end? Something? Someone else must have this problem!”

The conversation chased itself in circles until it fell over, panting. Adam hung up the phone with zero progress made. The bank was going to do nothing. Stuck, Adam went to his boss, Steve.

“What I was thinking,” Adam said, “was that we could put all of the unclear transactions in a bucket. When users log in, they’ll be prompted to claim any transactions that might be theirs. There could be an escalation path if transactions remain unclaimed-”

“No!”, Steve said. “First, the business units already feel that the application requires too much data entry. Second, they don’t have a budget to add features, only to fix bugs. Third, no one on the business side is going to actually monitor and maintain that. Fix the bug. Don’t invent new functionality.”

Stymied by the bank and his boss, Adam realized that he was going to have to solve this problem on his own. There was no perfect solution, but Adam was feeling… lucky.

Only a handful of people had duplicate suffixes on their p-cards. Most of the time, the cards were used for one off purchases or to resupply raw materials outside of a regular purchase-order. This meant than some users were heavy users of the cards, but most weren’t. It also meant that many of the common transactions would show repeat business with the same vendor.

Armed with that information, Adam was ready to “fix the bug”. He changed the primary key of the PCARDS table to an auto-generated numeric ID. Then, on PTRANS, he removed the foreign key on the suffix, and replaced it with a foreign key to the new ID field. Finally, he did a bit of creative programming in the SSIS package. If there were multiple purchasing cards that could link to the same transaction, the loading job differentiated them this way:

  • If one and only one card had previous transactions with this vendor, assign the transaction to that card.
  • In all other cases, assign the transaction to the card which had the most transactions for the month.

Adam slapped a comment on the SSIS package to explain the WTFery he had perpetrated. In the long run, his simple heuristic would almost certainly fail to categorize transactinos correctly, but Adam wasn’t concerned with the “long run”. He just needed it to work for three more months, until the support for the app moved offshore.

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Categories: Fun/Other

Seattle Approves $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage

Slashdot - Tue, 06/03/2014 - 10:59
An anonymous reader writes "The Seattle City Council announced on Monday that it has unanimously approved a $15 per hour minimum wage mandate. The new rate will go into effect starting April 1, 2015 in a tiered, gradual manner that depends on employer size. In the first year of implementation, hourly minimum wage will be raised to either $10 or $11 according to the employer size category. By 2021, hourly minimum wage across the board should be at or above $15. Seattle is the first city to implement a living wage for its lowest earners."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Red Dwarfs Could Sterilize Alien Worlds of Life

Slashdot - Tue, 06/03/2014 - 09:06
astroengine (1577233) writes "Red dwarf stars — the most common stars in the galaxy — bathe planets in their habitable zones with potentially deadly stellar winds, a finding that could have significant impacts on the prevalence of life beyond Earth, new research shows. About 70 percent of stars are red dwarfs, or M-type stars, which are cooler and smaller than the sun. Any red dwarf planets suitable for liquid water, therefore, would have to orbit much closer to their parent star than Earth circles the sun. That presents a problem for life — at least life as we know it on Earth, says physicist Ofer Cohen, with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Cohen and colleagues used a computer model based on data from the sun's solar wind — a continuous stream of charged particles that permeates and defines the solar system –- to estimate the space environment around red dwarf stars. 'We find that the conditions are very extreme. If you move planets very close to the star, the force of this flow is very, very strong. Essentially it can strip the atmosphere of the planet unless the planet has a strong magnetic field or a thick atmosphere to start with,' Cohen told Discovery News."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

The Latest Wave of Cyberattacks On the West Is Coming From the Middle East

Slashdot - Tue, 06/03/2014 - 06:05
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "A hacker group from the Middle East known as Molerats attacked a wide range of major public sector organizations over April and May, including the BBC and a smattering of European governments, researchers revealed today. The latest attacks, which sought to establish espionage operations on targets' digital infrastructure, took place between 29 April and 27 May, according to security technology vendor FireEye. The Molerats' actions have added weight to concerns around growing cyber capability stemming from the Middle East. Yet researchers are somewhat perplexed as to the motivation of the perpetrators, whose targets included both Israel and Palestine, as well as Turkey, Slovenia, Macedonia, New Zealand and Latvia. The hackers also went after government bodies in the U.S. and the UK."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Windows 8.1 Finally Passes Windows 8 In Market Share

Slashdot - Tue, 06/03/2014 - 04:10
An anonymous reader writes "May was the seventh full month of availability for Microsoft's latest operating system version: Windows 8.1 continues to grow slowly while Windows 8 remains largely flat, allowing the former to finally pass the latter in market share. At the same time, Windows 7 has managed to climb back over the 50 percent mark, while Windows XP still has more than 25 percent of the pie, despite support for the ancient OS finally ending in April."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

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