posted less than an hour ago on slashdot
hypnosec writes: The European Space Agency has made a joint analysis of data gathered by the ground-based BICEP2 and Keck Array experiments and its own Planck satellite to try to verify previous reports of BICEP2's primordial gravitational waves detection. However, the ESA was unable to find evidence of primordial gravitational waves, and they think the earlier report was simply based on an outdated model that didn't take interstellar dust into account. "The Milky Way is pervaded by a mixture of gas and dust shining at similar frequencies to those of the CMB, and this foreground emission affects the observation of the most ancient cosmic light. Very careful analysis is needed to separate the foreground emission from the cosmic background. Critically, interstellar dust also emits polarized light, thus affecting the CMB polarization as well. ... The BICEP2 team had chosen a field where they believed dust emission would be low, and thus interpreted the signal as likely to be cosmological. However, as soon as Planck’s maps of the polarized emission from Galactic dust were released (PDF), it was clear that this foreground contribution could be much higher than previously expected."

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posted about 2 hours ago on slashdot
theodp writes: Yes, folks, there are blind programmers. There's Ed Summers, for one, who lost his vision at age 30 and now ghostblogs for Willie the Seeing Eye Dog. And if you've ever wondered how the blind can code, Florian Beijers, who has been blind since birth, explains that all he needs is a normal Dell Inspiron 15r SE notebook and his trusty open source NVDA screen reader software, and he's good-to-go. "This is really all the adaptation a blind computer user needs," Beijers adds, but he does ask one small favor: "If you're writing the next big application, with a stunning UI and a great workflow, I humbly ask you to consider accessibility as part of the equation. In this day and age, there's really no reason not to use the UI toolkits available."

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posted about 3 hours ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes James B. Stewart writes in the NYT that in 1998 Bill Gates said in an interview that he "couldn't imagine a situation in which Apple would ever be bigger and more profitable than Microsoft" but less than two decades later, Apple, with a market capitalization more than double Microsoft's, has won. The most successful companies need a vision, and both Apple and Microsoft have one. But according to Stewart, Apple's vision was more radical and, as it turns out, more farsighted. Where Microsoft foresaw a computer on every person's desk, Apple went a big step further: Its vision was a computer in every pocket. "Apple has been very visionary in creating and expanding significant new consumer electronics categories," says Toni Sacconaghi. "Unique, disruptive innovation is really hard to do. Doing it multiple times, as Apple has, is extremely difficult." According to Jobs' biographer Walter Isaacson, Microsoft seemed to have the better business for a long time. "But in the end, it didn't create products of ethereal beauty. Steve believed you had to control every brush stroke from beginning to end. Not because he was a control freak, but because he had a passion for perfection." Can Apple continue to live by Jobs's disruptive creed now that the company is as successful as Microsoft once was? According to Robert Cihra it was one thing for Apple to cannibalize its iPod or Mac businesses, but quite another to risk its iPhone juggernaut. "The question investors have is, what's the next iPhone? There's no obvious answer. It's almost impossible to think of anything that will create a $140 billion business out of nothing."

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posted about 8 hours ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes "I've never been able to work up a fear of the robot apocalypse," admits R.U. Sirius, who more than 20 years after Mondo 2000's original guide to geek culture has again collaborated on a new encyclopedia of emerging technologies. As we progress to a world where technology actually becomes invisible, he argues that "everything about how we will define the future is still in play," suggesting that the transhumanist movement is "a good way to take isolated radical tech developments and bundle them together". While his co-author argues transhumanists "like to solve everything," Sirius points out a much bigger concern is a future of technologies dominated by the government or big capital.

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posted about 14 hours ago on slashdot
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "Ever since quantum mechanics first came along, we've recognized how tenuous our perception of reality is, and how — in many ways — what we perceive is just a very small subset of what's going on at the quantum level in our Universe. Then, along came cosmic inflation, teaching us that our observable Universe is just a tiny, tiny fraction of the matter-and-radiation filled space out there, with possibilities including Universes with different fundamental laws and constants, differing quantum outcomes existing in disconnected regions of space, and even the fantastic one of parallel Universes and alternate versions of you and me. But is that last one really admissible? The best modern evidence teaches us that even with all the Universes that inflation creates, it's still a finite number, and an insufficiently large number to contain all the possibilities that a 13.8 billion year old Universe with 10^90 particles admits."

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posted about 17 hours ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Data science — or "big data" if you prefer — has evolved into a full-fledged buzzword, thanks to marketing departments around the world. John Foreman writes that part of the marketing blitz has been focused on how fast big data analysis can be. Most companies offering some kind of analytic service try to sell you on how it'll make it easy for you to quickly find and fix the problems with your business. But he points out that good, robust models need a stable set of inputs, and businesses often change far too quickly for any kind of stable prediction. He takes IBM's analytic services as an example, quoting Kevin Hillstrom: "If IBM Watson can find hidden correlations that help your business, then why can't IBM Watson stem a 3 year sales drop at IBM?" Foreman offers some simple advice: "Simple analyses don't require huge models that get blown away when the business changes. ... If your business is currently too chaotic to support a complex model, don't build one."

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posted about 18 hours ago on slashdot
mdsolar points out this report in the NY Times: An overwhelming majority of the American public, including nearly half of Republicans, support government action to curb global warming, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research group Resources for the Future. In a finding that could have implications for the 2016 presidential campaign, the poll also found that two-thirds of Americans say they are more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change. They are less likely to vote for candidates who question or deny the science of human-caused global warming. Among Republicans, 48 percent said they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports fighting climate change, a result that Jon A. Krosnick, a professor of political science at Stanford University and an author of the survey, called "the most powerful finding" in the poll. Many Republican candidates either question the science of climate change or do not publicly address the issue.

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posted about 19 hours ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: I volunteer at a inner-city community after school program focused K-8th grade. Right now, due to the volunteer demographic, we spend most of our activity time in arts and crafts and homework. The 5th-8th students are getting restless with those activities. I've been asked to spice it up with some electrical wizardry. What I'd like to do is introduce the students to basic jobs skills through computers. My thoughts are that I could conduct some simple hands-on experiments with circuits, and maybe some bread boards. Ultimately, we're going to take apart a computer and put it back together. How successful this project is will dictate whether or not we will go into programming. However, whatever we do, I want the kids to obtain marketable skills. Anyone know of a curriculum I can follow? What experiences have you had with various educational computing projects?

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posted about 20 hours ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Maryland has released on GitHub a version of a Python-based internal forensics tool which the army itself has been using for five years. Dshell is a Linux-based framework designed to help investigators identify and examine compromised IT environments. One of the intentions of the open-sourcing of the project is to involve community developers in the creation of new modules for the framework. The official release indicates that the version of Dshell released to Github is not necessarily the same one that the Army uses, or at least that the module package might be pared down from the Army-issued software.

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posted about 21 hours ago on slashdot
New submitter ferro lad sends a story about Verizon's so-called supercookie, a unique identifier they add to web traffic going across their network to help advertisers target their ads better. A new article at Slate demonstrates how Verizon could fix the identifier so that ad companies would have a harder time misusing it — something they've already been shown to do. "...with just a tiny amount of effort, Verizon could maintain its current business while substantially preventing the misuse of its UID headers." Of course, for privacy-conscious users, the ability to get rid of them altogether would be preferable. Fortunately, Verizon now says users will soon have the ability to opt out of the identifiers. Previously, users could opt out of having their data shared with advertisers, but the unique identifier itself remained with their web traffic. It's not a complete solution — the tracking should be opt-in to begin with — but it's a step in the right direction.

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posted about 21 hours ago on slashdot
itwbennett writes: Although Apple has never officially acknowledged issues surrounding Yosemite and Wi-Fi connectivity, the company is clearly aware of the problem: Leading off the improvements offered in the update 10.10.2 update released Tuesday was 'resolves an issue that might cause Wi-Fi to disconnect,' according to the release notes. Despite this, Apple's support forum was filled with tales of frustrated users. And Mac owners aren't the only Apple users experiencing wireless connection failures after updating their OS. Wi-Fi connectivity issues have also dogged iOS 8 since Apple released the mobile OS on Sept. 17.

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posted about 23 hours ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Life as we know it requires small, rocky planets. The gas giants of our solar system aren't habitable (to our knowledge), but a research team has discovered that smaller, Neptune-like planets can be transformed into gas-free, potentially habitable worlds with a little help from red dwarf stars. Such planets are usually formed far out in a planetary system, but tidal forces can cause them to migrate inward. When they reach the habitable zone of their host star, they absorb far larger amounts of x-ray and ultraviolet radiation. This can eventually boil off most of the the gas atmosphere, leaving behind the core: a small, rocky world capable of supporting life.

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posted about 23 hours ago on slashdot
jones_supa writes: Phoronix notes how it has been a long time since last hearing of any major innovations or improvements to VirtualBox, the virtual machine software managed by Oracle. This comes while VMware is improving its products on all platforms, and KVM, Xen, Virt-Manager, and related Linux virtualization technologies continue to advance as well. Is there any hope left for a revitalized VirtualBox? It has been said that there are only four paid developers left on the VirtualBox team at the company, which is not enough manpower to significantly advance such a complex piece of software. The v4.3 series has been receiving some maintenance updates during the last two years, but that's about it.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Security researcher Simone Margaritelli has reverse engineered the Bluetooth low-energy communications protocol for his Nike+ FuelBand SE, a wrist-worn activity tracker. He learned some disturbing facts: "The authentication system is vulnerable, anyone could connect to your device. The protocol supports direct reading and writing of the device memory, up to 65K of contents. The protocol supports commands that are not supposed to be implemented in a production release (bootloader mode, device self test, etc)." His post explains in detail how he managed this, and how Nike put effort into creating an authentication system, but then completely undermined it by using a hard-coded token. Margaritelli even provides a command list for the device, which can do things like grab an event log, upload a bitmap for the screen, and even reset it.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: The FCC's recent wireless spectrum auction closed on Thursday, and the agency has raked in far more money than anyone expected. Sales totaled $44.89 billion, demonstrating that demand for wireless spectrum is higher than ever. The winners have not yet been disclosed, but the FCC will soon make all bidding activity public. "The money will be used to fund FirstNet, the government agency tasked with creating the nation's first interoperable broadband network for first responders, to finance technological upgrades to our 911 emergency systems, and to contribute over $20 billion to deficit reduction. In addition, the auction brought 65 Megahertz of spectrum to market to fuel our nation's mobile broadband networks. The wireless industry estimates that for every 10 Megahertz of spectrum licensed for wireless broadband, 7,000 American jobs are created and U.S. gross domestic product increases by $1.7 billion."

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader sends word that the British pay-TV company, Sky, will launch mobile services next year UK pay-TV firm Sky is launching a mobile phone service next year in partnership with O2's Spanish parent Telefonica. Sky will use Telefonica UK's wireless network, enabling the satellite broadcaster to offer mobile voice and data services for the first time. It takes Sky into the battle for "quad play", adding mobile to its existing services of internet, landline and TV. Offering all four services is seen as the next big UK growth area for telecoms firms and broadcasters.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Microsoft today launched Outlook for Android and iOS. The former is available (in preview) for download now on Google Play and the latter will arrive on Apple's App Store later today. The pitch is simple: Outlook will let you manage your work and personal email on your phone and tablet as efficiently as you do on your computer. The app also offers calendar features, attachment integration (with OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and iCloud), along with customizable swipes and actions so you can tailor it to how you specifically use email.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
hackingbear writes China's State Administration of Industry and Commerce on Wednesday issued a scathing report against one of the country's biggest stars, accusing e-commerce giant Alibaba of failing to do enough to prevent fake goods from being sold on its websites. SAIC said Alibaba allowed "illegal advertising" that misled consumers with false claims about low prices and other details. It claims some Alibaba employees took bribes and the company failed to deal effectively with fraud. Alibaba fired back with charges of bias and misconduct by accusing the SAIC official in charge of Internet monitoring, Liu Hongliang, of unspecified "procedural misconduct" and warned it will file a formal complaint. Such public defiance is almost unheard of in China. Apparently, Alibaba has long attained the too big to fail status.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft plans to be a minority investor in a roughly $70 million round of equity financing for mobile startup Cyanogen Inc.. Neither company is commenting on the plan but last week during a talk in San Francisco, Cyanogen's CEO said the company's goal was to "take Android away from Google." According to Bloomberg: "The talks illustrate how Microsoft is trying to get its applications and services on rival operating systems, which has been a tenet of Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella. Microsoft has in the past complained that Google Inc., which manages Android, has blocked its programs from the operating system."

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
TechCurmudgeon sends word that LibreOffice 4.4 has been released. "The Document foundation announced availability of the latest version of LibreOffice on Thursday, which it says is the most beautiful version of the open source productivity suite yet. LibreOffice 4.4 also fixes some compatibility issues with files that are saved in Microsoft's OOXML formats. LibreOffice 4.4 has got a lot of UX and design love," Jan "Kendy" Holesovsky, who leads the design team for Libreoffice, said in a statement. LibreOffice 4.4 is currently available for Windows."

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes At least one and likely more D-Link routers as well as those of other manufacturers using the same firmware are vulnerable to remote changing of DNS settings and, effectively, traffic hijacking, a Bulgarian security researcher has discovered. Todor Donev, a member of the Ethical Hacker research team, says that the vulnerability is found in the ZynOS firmware of the device, D-Link's DSL-2740R ADSL modem/wireless router. The firmware in question is implemented in many networking equipment manufactured by D-Link, TP-Link Technologies and ZTE.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
schwit1 writes Scientists showed they can identify you with more than 90 percent accuracy by looking at just four purchases, three if the price is included — and this is after companies "anonymized" the transaction records, saying they wiped away names and other personal details. The study out of MIT, published Thursday in the journal Science, examined three months of credit card records for 1.1 million people. "We are showing that the privacy we are told that we have isn't real," study co-author Alex "Sandy" Pentland of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in an email.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
Tyketto writes Following up on a previous story about its replacement, the US Air Force has selected the Boeing 747-8 to replace the aging Presidential fleet of two VC-25s, which are converted B747-200s. With the only other suitable aircraft being the Airbus A380, the USAF cited Boeing's 50-year history of building presidential aircraft as their reason to skip competition and opt directly for the aircraft, which due to dwindling sales and prospects, may be the last 747s to be produced.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
TechCurmudgeon writes According to The Register, "Mozilla has given the Tor network a capacity kick with the launch of 14 relays that will help distribute user traffic. Engineers working under the Foundation's Polaris Project inked in November pulled Mozilla's spare and decommissioned hardware out of the cupboard for dedicated use in the Tor network. It included a pair of Juniper EX4200 switches and three HP SL170zG6 (48GB ram, 2*Xeon L5640, 2*1Gbps NIC) servers, along with a dedicated existing IP transit provider (2 X 10Gbps). French Mozilla engineer Arzhel Younsi (@xionoxfr) said its network was designed to fall no lower than half of its network capacity in the event of maintenance or failure. The Polaris initiative was a effort of Mozilla, the Tor Project and the Centre for Democracy and Technology to help build more privacy controls into technology."

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
halfEvilTech writes As part of its 2015 Broadband Progress Report, the Federal Communications Commission has voted to change the definition of broadband by raising the minimum download speeds needed from 4Mbps to 25Mbps, and the minimum upload speed from 1Mbps to 3Mbps, which effectively triples the number of US households without broadband access. Currently, 6.3 percent of US households don't have access to broadband under the previous 4Mpbs/1Mbps threshold, while another 13.1 percent don't have access to broadband under the new 25Mbps downstream threshold.

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