posted 1 day ago on slashdot
A recent post by Instapaper's Marco Arment suggests that design flaws in Apple's App Store are harming the app ecosystem, and users are suffering because of it. "The dominance and prominence of 'top lists' stratifies the top 0.02% so far above everyone else that the entire ecosystem is encouraged to design for a theoretical top-list placement that, by definition, won’t happen to 99.98% of them." Arment notes that many good app developers are finding continued development to be unsustainable, while scammy apps are encouraged to flood the market. "As the economics get tighter, it becomes much harder to support the lavish treatment that developers have given apps in the past, such as full-time staffs, offices, pixel-perfect custom designs of every screen, frequent free updates, and completely different iPhone and iPad interfaces. Many will give up and leave for stable, better-paying jobs. (Many already have.)" Brent Simmons points out the indie developers have largely given up the dream of being able to support themselves through iOS development. Yoni Heisler argues that their plight is simply a consequence of ever-increasing competition within the industry, though he acknowledges that more app curation would be a good thing. What strategies could Apple (and the operators of other mobile application stories) do to keep app quality high?

Read More...
posted 1 day ago on slashdot
Apache is behind a huge percentage of the world's websites, and the Apache Software Foundation is the umbrella organization that provides licensing and stucture for open source projects ranging from the Apache Web server to Apache OpenOffice to small utilities that aren't household names but are often important to a surprising number of people and companies. Most of us never get to meet the people behind groups like the Apache Software Foundation -- except today we tag along with Tim Lord at OSCON and chat with Apache Software Foundation Executive Vice President Rich Bowen -- who is also Red Hat's OpenStack Community Liason. (Alternate Video Link)

Read More...
posted 2 days ago on slashdot
theodp writes: U.S. civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson called on the Obama administration Monday to scrutinize the tech industry's lack of diversity. "There's no talent shortage. There's an opportunity shortage," Jackson said, calling Silicon Valley "far worse" than many others, such as car makers that have been pressured by unions. He said tech behemoths have largely escaped scrutiny by a public dazzled with their cutting-edge gadgets. Jackson spoke to press after meeting with Labor Secretary Tom Perez for a review of H-1B visas, arguing that data show Americans have the skills and should have first access to high-paying tech work. Jackson's Rainbow Push Coalition plans to file a freedom-of-information request next month with the EEOC to acquire employment data for companies that have not yet disclosed it publicly, which includes Amazon, Broadcom, Oracle, Qualcomm and Yelp. Unlike the Dept. of Labor, Jackson isn't buying Silicon Valley's argument that minority hiring statistics are trade secrets. Five years after Google's HR Chief would only reassure Congress the company had "a very strong internal Black Googler Network" and its CEO brushed off similar questions about its diversity numbers by saying "we're pretty happy with the way our recruiting work," Google — under pressure from Jackson — fessed up to having a tech workforce that's only 1% Black, apparently par for the course in Silicon Valley.

Read More...
posted 2 days ago on slashdot
kodiaktau writes: Hardkernel has released a new Raspberry Pi-compatible development board based on the Samsung Exynos SoC. The board is smaller than a typical Pi, keeping basic HDMI, USB and CSI interfaces. It also has a 26-pin expansion board with more GPIO available, though it lacks an Ethernet jack. Initial prices as estimated around $30. The article makes the interesting point that this and other devices are marketed as "Raspberry Pi-compatible." The Raspberry Pi Foundation may run into name retention issues (similar to the ones Arduino had) as related hardware piggybacks on its success.

Read More...
posted 2 days ago on slashdot
Zothecula writes: The Silent Power PC is claimed to be the first high-end PC able to ditch noisy electric fans in favor of fully passive cooling. In place of a conventional fan, the unit uses an open-air metal foam heatsink that boasts an enormous surface area thanks to the open-weave copper filaments of which it's composed. The Silent Power creators claim that the circulation of air through the foam is so efficient in dissipating heat that the exterior surface temperature never rises above 50 C (122 F) in normal use.

Read More...
posted 2 days ago on slashdot
rtoz sends this news from the BBC: The UK government has announced that driverless cars will be allowed on public roads starting in January next year. It also invited cities to compete to host one of three trials of the tech, which would start at the same time. In addition, ministers ordered a review of the UK's road regulations to provide appropriate guidelines. ... The debate now is whether to allow cars, like the prototype unveiled by Google in May, to abandon controls including a steering wheel and pedals and rely on the vehicle's computer. Or whether, instead, to allow the machine to drive, but insist a passenger be ready to wrest back control at a moment's notice.

Read More...
posted 2 days ago on slashdot
schwit1 writes: New research by astronomers suggests that the Milky Way is about half as massive as previously estimated. It was thought to be roughly the same mass as Andromeda, weighing in at approximately 1.26 x 10^12 solar masses (PDF). This new research indicates its mass is around half the mass of Andromeda. "Galaxies in the Local Group are bound together by their collective gravity. As a result, while most galaxies, including those on the outskirts of the Local Group, are moving farther apart due to expansion, the galaxies in the Local Group are moving closer together because of gravity. For the first time, researchers were able to combine the available information about gravity and expansion to complete precise calculations of the masses of both the Milky Way and Andromeda. ... Andromeda had twice as much mass as the Milky Way, and in both galaxies 90 percent of the mass was made up of dark matter."

Read More...
posted 2 days ago on slashdot
Andreas Kolbe writes: The Daily Dot's EJ Dickson reports how she accidentally discovered that a hoax factoid she added over five years ago as a stoned sophomore to the Wikipedia article on "Amelia Bedelia, the protagonist of the eponymous children's book series about a 'literal-minded housekeeper' who misunderstands her employer's orders," had not just remained on Wikipedia all this time, but come to be cited by a Taiwanese English professor, in "innumerable blog posts and book reports", as well as a book on Jews and Jesus. It's a cautionary tale about the fundamental unreliability of Wikipedia. And as Wikipedia ages, more and more such stories are coming to light.

Read More...
posted 2 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: We heard a couple weeks ago about an incredibly pushy Comcast customer service representative who turned a quick cancellation into an ordeal you wouldn't wish on your enemies. To try and find out what could cause such behavior, The Verge reached out to Comcast employees, hoping a few of them would explain training practices and management directives. They got more than they bargained for — over 100 employees responded, and they painted a picture of a corporation overrun by the neverending quest for greater profit. From the article: 'These employees told us the same stories over and over again: customer service has been replaced by an obsession with sales, technicians are understaffed and tech support is poorly trained, and the massive company is hobbled by internal fragmentation. ... Brian Van Horn, a billing specialist who worked at Comcast for 10 years, says the sales pitch gradually got more aggressive. "They were starting off with, 'just ask," he says. "Then instead of 'just ask,' it was 'just ask again,' then 'engage the customer in a conversation,' then 'overcome their objections.'" He was even pressured to pitch new services to a customer who was 55 days late on her bill, he says.'

Read More...
posted 2 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Every time a city- or state-wide disaster strikes, services to help the victims slowly crop up over the following days and weeks. Sometimes they work well, sometimes they don't. Today, city officials in San Francisco and Portland announced a partnership with peer-to-peer lodging service Airbnb to work out some disaster-preparedness plans ahead of time. Airbnb will locate hosts in these cities who will commit to providing a place to stay for people who are displaced in a disaster, and then set up alerts and notifications to help people find these hosts during a crisis. The idea is that if wildfires or an earthquake forces thousands of people to evacuate their homes, they can easily be absorbed into an organized, distributed group of willing hosts, rather than being shunted to one area and forced to live in a school gymnasium or something similar.

Read More...
posted 2 days ago on slashdot
schwit1 writes: "With a drive of 157 feet on Sunday, the Mars rover Opportunity broke the Soviet record, set by Lunokhod 2 in 1973, for the longest distance traveled by a vehicle on another planet. "If the rover can continue to operate the distance of a marathon — 26.2 miles (about 42.2 kilometers) — it will approach the next major investigation site mission scientists have dubbed "Marathon Valley." Observations from spacecraft orbiting Mars suggest several clay minerals are exposed close together at this valley site, surrounded by steep slopes where the relationships among different layers may be evident. The Russian Lunokhod 2 rover, a successor to the first Lunokhod mission in 1970, landed on Earth's moon on Jan. 15, 1973, where it drove about 24.2 miles (39 kilometers) in less than five months, according to calculations recently made using images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) cameras that reveal Lunokhod 2's tracks."

Read More...
posted 3 days ago on slashdot
chicksdaddy writes: A four-year-old vulnerability in an open source component that is a critical part of Android leaves hundreds of millions of mobile devices susceptible to silent malware infections. The vulnerability affects devices running Android versions 2.1 to 4.4 ("KitKat"), according to a statement released by Bluebox. The vulnerability was found in a package installer in affected versions of Android. The installer doesn't attempt to determine the authenticity of certificate chains that are used to vouch for new digital identity certificates. In short, Bluebox writes, "an identity can claim to be issued by another identity, and the Android cryptographic code will not verify the claim." The security implications of this are vast. Malicious actors could create a malicious mobile application with a digital identity certificate that claims to be issued by Adobe Systems. Once installed, vulnerable versions of Android will treat the application as if it was actually signed by Adobe and give it access to local resources, like the special webview plugin privilege, that can be used to sidestep security controls and virtual 'sandbox' environments that keep malicious programs from accessing sensitive data and other applications running on the Android device. The flaw appears to have been introduced to Android through an open source component, Apache Harmony. Google turned to Harmony as an alternative means of supporting Java in the absence of a deal with Oracle to license Java directly. Work on Harmony was discontinued in November, 2011. However, Google has continued using native Android libraries that are based on Harmony code. The vulnerability concerning certificate validation in the package installer module persisted even as the two codebases diverged.

Read More...
posted 3 days ago on slashdot
New submitter meeotch writes: According to a new study by the Urban Institute, 35% of U.S. adults with a credit history (91% of the adult population of the U.S.) have debt "in collections" — a status generally not acquired until payments are at least 180 days past due. Debt problems seem to be worse in the South, with states hovering in the 40%+ range, while the Northeast has it better, at less than 30%. The study's authors claim their findings actually underrepresent low-income consumers, because "adults without a credit file are more likely to be financially disadvantaged." Oddly, only 5% of adults have debt 30-180 days past due. This latter fact is partially accounted for by the fact that a broader range of debt can enter "in collections" status than "past due" status (e.g. parking tickets)... But also perhaps demonstrates that as one falls far enough along the debt spiral, escape becomes impossible. Particularly in the case of high-interest debt such as credit cards — the issuers of which cluster in states such as South Dakota, following a 1978 Supreme Court ruling that found that states' usury laws did not apply to banks headquartered in other states. Even taking into account the folks who lost a parking ticket under their passenger seat, 35% is a pretty shocking number. Anyone have other theories why this number is so much higher than the 5% of people who are just "late"? How about some napkin math on the debt spiral?

Read More...
posted 3 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Electronic Arts has announced a new program called "EA Access," a subscription-based service that will grant Xbox One users access to a small catalog of EA's popular games, as well as early trials of upcoming games. They're beta testing the service now, and the available games are FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2, and Battlefield 4. (More titles will be added later.) They're charging $5 per month or $30 per year. It probably won't ever include their newest releases, but it's interesting to see such a major publisher experimenting with a Netflix-style subscription service.

Read More...
posted 3 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Wladimir Palant is the creator of the Adblock Plus browser extension, but he often gets asked how it compares to a similar extension for Chrome called Adblock. In the past, he's told people the two extensions achieve largely the same end, but in slightly different ways. However, recent changes to the Adblock project have him worried. "AdBlock covertly moved from an open development model towards hiding changes from its users. Users were neither informed about that decision nor the reasons behind it." He goes through the changelog and highlights some updates that call into question the integrity of Adblock. For example, from an update on June 6th: "Calling home functionality has been extended. It now sends user's locale in addition to the unique user ID, AdBlock version, operating system and whether Google Search ads are being allowed. Also, AdBlock will tell getadblock.com (or any other website if asked nicely) whether AdBlock has just been installed or has been used for a while — again, in addition to the unique user ID." Of course, Palant has skin in this game, and Adblock Plus has dealt with fallout from their "acceptable ads policy," but at least it's still developed in the open.

Read More...
posted 3 days ago on slashdot
Back in 2009, OKLabs/NICTA announced the first formally verified microkernel, seL4 (a member of the L4 family). Alas, it was proprietary software. Today, that's no longer the case: seL4 has been released under the GPLv2 (only, no "or later versions clause" unfortunately). An anonymous reader writes OSnews is reporting that the formally verified sel4 microkernel is now open source: "General Dynamics C4 Systems and NICTA are pleased to announce the open sourcing of seL4, the world's first operating-system kernel with an end-to-end proof of implementation correctness and security enforcement. It is still the world's most highly assured OS." Source is over at Github. It supports ARM and x86 (including the popular Beaglebone ARM board). If you have an x86 with the VT-x and Extended Page Table extensions you can even run Linux atop seL4 (and the seL4 website is served by Linux on seL4).

Read More...
posted 3 days ago on slashdot
astroengine writes: New observations from NASA's Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft have revealed at least 101 individual geysers erupting from Enceladus' crust and, through careful analysis, planetary scientists have uncovered their origin. From the cracked ice in this region, fissures blast out water vapor mixed with organic compounds as huge geysers. Associated with these geysers are surface "hotspots" but until now there has been some ambiguity as to whether the hotspots are creating the geysers or whether the geysers are creating the hotspots. "Once we had these results in hand, we knew right away heat was not causing the geysers, but vice versa," said Carolyn Porco, leader of the Cassini imaging team from the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., and lead author of one of the research papers. "It also told us the geysers are not a near-surface phenomenon, but have much deeper roots." And those roots point to a large subsurface source of liquid water — adding Enceladus as one of the few tantalizing destinations for future astrobiology missions.

Read More...
posted 3 days ago on slashdot
Nerval's Lobster writes: Over at Dice, there's a breakdown of the programming languages that could prove most popular over the next year or two, including Apple's Swift, JavaScript, CSS3, and PHP. But perhaps the most interesting entry on the list is Erlang, an older language invented in 1986 by engineers at Ericsson. It was originally intended to be used specifically for telecommunications needs, but has since evolved into a general-purpose language, and found a home in cloud-based, high-performance computing when concurrency is needed. "There aren't a lot of Erlang jobs out there," writes developer Jeff Cogswell. "However, if you do master it (and I mean master it, not just learn a bit about it), then you'll probably land a really good job. That's the trade-off: You'll have to devote a lot of energy into it. But if you do, the payoffs could be high." And while the rest of the featured languages are no-brainers with regard to popularity, it's an open question how long it might take Swift to become popular, given how hard Apple will push it as the language for developing on iOS.

Read More...
posted 3 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Today Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced a bill that would ban bulk collection of telephone records and internet data for U.S. citizens. This is a stronger version of the legislation that passed the U.S. House in May, and it has support from the executive branch as well. "The bill, called the USA Freedom Act, would prohibit the government from collecting all information from a particular service provider or a broad geographic area, such as a city or area code, according to a release from Leahy's office. It would expand government and company reporting to the public and reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which reviews NSA intelligence activities. Both House and Senate measures would keep information out of NSA computers, but the Senate bill would impose stricter limits on how much data the spy agency could seek."

Read More...
posted 3 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Promising "an appstore for the physical world," Amazon has just unveiled their new online market for products created using a 3-D printer. "Customization gives customers the power to remix their world," explains the co-founder of Mixee Labs (an Amazon partner), "and we want to change the way people shop online." Amazon's ability to sell you things before they've even been built is currently limited mostly to novelties like iPhone cases, jewelry, and bobbleheads that look like you. But this could be the beginning of mainstream 3D printing.

Read More...
posted 3 days ago on slashdot
Qbertino (265505) writes I've been musing about a security setup to allow my coworkers/users access to files from the outside. I want security to be a little safer than pure key- or password-based SSH access, and some super-expensive RSA Token setup is out of question. I've been wondering whether there are any feasible and working FOSS and open hardware-based security token generator projects out there. It'd be best with ready-made server-side scripts/daemons. Perhaps something Arduino or Raspberry Pi based? Has anybody tried something like this? What are your experiences? What do you use? How would you attempt an open hardware FOSS solution to this problem?

Read More...
posted 3 days ago on slashdot
jradavenport (3020071) writes "Using two years of continuous monitoring of my MacBook Air battery usage (once every minute), I have been able to study my own computer use patterns in amazing detail. This dataset includes 293k measurements, or more than 204 days of use over two years. I use the laptop over 50 hours per week on average, and my most productive day is Tuesday. Changes in my work/life balance have begun to appear over the two-year span, and I am curious whether such data can help inform how much computer use is healthy/productive."

Read More...
posted 3 days ago on slashdot
Vigile (99919) writes "Last week NVIDIA announced the SHIELD Tablet and SHIELD Controller, and reviews are finally appearing this morning. Based on the high performance Tegra K1 SoC that integrates 192 Kepler architecture CUDA cores, benchmarks reveal that that the SHIELD Tablet is basically unmatched by any other mobile device on the market when it comes to graphics performance — it is more than 2.5x the performance of the Apple A7 in some instances. With that power NVIDIA is able to showcase full OpenGL versions of games like Portal and Half-Life 2 running at 1080p locally on the 19:12 display or output to a TV in a "console mode." PC Perspective has impressions of that experience as well as using the NVIDIA Game Stream technology to play your PC games on the SHIELD Tablet and controller. To go even further down the rabbit hole, you can stream your PC games from your desktop to your tablet, output them to the TV in console mode, stream your game play to Twitch from the tablet while overlaying your image through the front facing camera AND record your sessions locally via ShadowPlay and using the Wi-Fi Direct powered controller to send and receive audio. It is incredibly impressive hardware but the question remains as to whether or not there is, or will be, a market for Android-based gaming devices, even those with the power and performance that NVIDIA has built."

Read More...
posted 3 days ago on slashdot
redletterdave (2493036) writes "Sharron Laverne Parrish Jr., 24, allegedly scammed Apple not once, but 42 times, cheating the company out of more than $300,000 — and his scam was breathtakingly simple. According to a Secret Service criminal complaint, Parrish allegedly visited Apple Stores and tried to buy products with four different debit cards, which were all closed by his respective financial institutions. When his debit card was inevitably declined by the Apple Store, he would protest and offer to call his bank — except, he wasn't really calling his bank. So he would allegedly offer the Apple Store employees a fake authorization code with a certain number of digits, which is normally provided by credit card issuers to create a record of the credit or debit override. But that's the problem with this system: as long as the number of digits is correct, the override code itself doesn't matter."

Read More...
posted 3 days ago on slashdot
necro81 (917438) writes "Gaza's only power plant (see this profile at IEEE Spectrum — duct tape and bailing wire not included) has been knocked offline following an Israeli strike. Reports vary, but it appears that Israeli tank shells caused a fuel bunker at the plant to explode. Gaza, already short on electricity despite imports from Israel and Egpyt, now faces widening blackouts."

Read More...