posted 12 days ago on slashdot
First time accepted submitter sobczakt writes We live in a world flooded by data and information and all realize that if we can't find what we're looking for (e.g. a specific document), there's no benefit from all these data stores. When your data sets become enormous or your systems need to process thousands of messages a second, you need to an environment that is efficient, tunable and ready for scaling. We all need well-designed search technology. A few days ago, a book called Scaling Apache Solr landed on my desk. The author, Hrishikesh Vijay Karambelkar, has written an extremely useful guide to one of the most popular open-source search platforms, Apache Solr. Solr is a full-text, standalone, Java search engine based on Lucene, another successful Apache project. For people working with Solr, like myself, this book should be on their Christmas shopping list. It's one of the best on this subject. Read below for the rest of sobczakt's review.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
sciencehabit writes Material scientists have found a clever way to alert users of damaged batteries before any hazard occurs. A typical lithium-ion cell consists of a lithium oxide cathode and a graphite anode, separated by a thin, porous polymer sheet that allows ions to travel between the electrodes. When the cell is overcharged, microscopic chains of lithium, called "dendrites," sprout from the anode and pierce through the polymer separator until they touch the cathode. An electrical current passing through the dendrites to the cathode can short-circuit the cell, which causes overheating and, in some cases, fire. Attempts to stop dendrite formation have met with limited success, so the researchers tried something different. They built a "smart" separator by sandwiching a 50-nanometer thin copper layer between two polymer sheets and connecting the copper layer to a third electrode for voltage measurement. When the dendrites reach the separator, the voltage between the anode and the copper layer drops to zero, alerting users that they should change the damaged battery while it is still operating safely—disaster averted.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Every day my gmail account receives 30-50 spam emails. Some of it is UCE, partially due to a couple dingbats with similar names who apparently think my gmail account belongs to them. The remainder looks to be spambot or Nigerian 419 email. I also run my own MX for my own domain, where I also receive a lot of spam. But with a combination of a couple DNSBL in my sendmail config, SpamAssassin, and procmail, almost none of it gets through to my inbox. In both cases there are rare false positives where a legit email ends up in my spam folder, or in the case of my MX, a spam email gets through to my Inbox, but these are rare occurrences. I'd think with all the Oompa Loompas at the Chocolate Factory that they could do a better job rejecting the obvious spam emails. If they did it would make checking for the occasional false positives in my spam folder a teeny bit easier. For anyone who's responsible for shunting Web-scale spam toward the fate it deserves, what factors go into the decision tree that might lead to so much spam getting through?

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
Bennett Haselton writes As commenters continue to blame Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities for allowing their nude photos to be stolen, there is only one rebuttal to the victim-blaming which actually makes sense: that for the celebrities taking their nude selfies, the probable benefits of their actions outweighed the probable negatives. Most of the other rebuttals being offered, are logically incoherent, and, as such, are not likely to change the minds of the victim-blamers. Read below to see what Bennett has to say.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
Eben Upton's reboot of the spirit of the BBC Micro in the form of the Raspberry Pi would have been an interesting project even if it had only been useful in the world of education. Upton wanted, after all, to give the kind of hands-on, low-level interaction with computing devices that he saw had gone missing in schools. Plenty of rPis are now in that educational, inspirational role, but it turns out that the world was waiting (or at least ready) for a readily usable, cheap, all-in-one computer, and the Raspberry Pi arrived near the front of a wave that now includes many other options. Sales boomed, and we've mentioned a few of the interesting milestones, like the millionth unit made in the UK and the two-millionth unit overall. Now, according to TechCrunch the Raspberry Pi is getting close to 4 million units sold, having just passed 3.8 million, as reported in a tweet. If you have a Raspberry Pi, what are you using it for now, and what would you like to see tweaked in future versions?

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
BarbaraHudson writes Experimental research has shown that small amounts of estrogen in waste water can lead to rapid large-scale changes in fish populations. From the article: "The lead researcher of a new study is calling for improvements to some of Canada's waste water treatment facilities after finding that introducing the birth control pill in waterways created a chain reaction in a lake ecosystem that nearly wiped out a freshwater fish. 'Right away, the male fish started to respond to the estrogen exposure by producing egg yolk proteins and shortly after that they started to develop eggs,' she said in an interview from Saint John, N.B. 'They were being feminized.' Kidd said shortly after introducing the estrogen, the number of fathead minnow crashed, reducing numbers to just one per cent of the population. 'It was really unexpected that they would react so quickly and so dramatically,' she said. 'The crash in the population was very evident and very dramatic and very rapid and related directly to the estrogen addition.'" Estrogen pollution in waterways has been an issue for over a decade now.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
Annanag writes *Nothing* escapes a black hole, right? Except 40 years ago Stephen Hawking threw a spanner in the works by suggesting that, courtesy of quantum mechanics, some light particles can actually break free of a black hole's massive pull. Then you have the tantalizing question of whether information can also escape, encoded in that so-called 'Hawking radiation'. The only problem being that no one has ever been able to detect Hawking radiation being emitted from a black hole. BUT a physicist has now come closer than ever before to creating an imitation of a black hole event horizon in the lab, opening up a potential avenue for investigating Hawking radiation and exploring how quantum mechanics and general relativity might be brought together.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
garymortimer writes with news about a project that hopes to create an open source code platform for drones. "The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux and collaborative development, today announced the founding of the Dronecode Project. The Project will bring together existing open source drone projects and assets under a nonprofit structure governed by The Linux Foundation. The result will be a common, shared open source platform for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Founding members include 3D Robotics, Baidu, Box, DroneDeploy, Intel, jDrones, Laser Navigation, Qualcomm, SkyWard, Squadrone System, Walkera and Yuneec. Dronecode includes the APM UAV software platform and associated code, which until now has been hosted by 3D Robotics, a world leader in advanced UAV autopilot and autonomous vehicle control. The company was co-founded by Chris Anderson, formerly editor-in-chief of Wired"

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes Randy Olson, a Computer Science grad student who works with data visualizations, writes about seven of the biggest factors that predict what makes for a long term stable marriage in America. Olson took the results of a study that polled thousands of recently married and divorced Americans and and asked them dozens of questions about their marriage (PDF): How long they were dating, how long they were engaged, etc. After running this data through a multivariate model, the authors were able to calculate the factors that best predicted whether a marriage would end in divorce. "What struck me about this study is that it basically laid out what makes for a stable marriage in the US," writes Olson. Here are some of the biggest factors: How long you were dating (Couples who dated 1-2 years before their engagement were 20% less likely to end up divorced than couples who dated less than a year before getting engaged. Couples who dated 3 years or more are 39% less likely to get divorced.); How much money you make (The more money you and your partner make, the less likely you are to ultimately file for divorce. Couples who earn $125K per year are 51% less likely to divorce than couples making 0 — 25k); How often you go to church (Couples who never go to church are 2x more likely to divorce than regular churchgoers.); Your attitude toward your partner (Men are 1.5x more likely to end up divorced when they care more about their partner's looks, and women are 1.6x more likely to end up divorced when they care more about their partner's wealth.); How many people attended the wedding ("Crazy enough, your wedding ceremony has a huge impact on the long-term stability of your marriage. Perhaps the biggest factor is how many people attend your wedding: Couples who elope are 12.5x more likely to end up divorced than couples who get married at a wedding with 200+ people."); How much you spent on the wedding (The more you spend on your wedding, the more likely you'll end up divorced.); Whether you had a honeymoon (Couples who had a honeymoon are 41% less likely to divorce than those who had no honeymoon). Of course correlation is not causation. For example, expensive weddings may simply attract the kind of immature and narcissistic people who are less likely to sustain a successful marriage and such people might end up getting divorced even if they married cheaply. But "the particularly scary part here is that the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is well over $30,000," says Olson, "which doesn't bode well for the future of American marriages."

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
The Register describes an advance in wireless speed announced by Samsung, which could make possible Wi-Fi speeds of up to 4.6Gbps in any device equipped with the new technology. By using “wide-coverage beam-forming antenna” and “eliminating co-channel interference, regardless of the number of devices using the same network” Samsung says it has cracked the problem and that products using its 802.11 ab standard could go on sale next year. Early products to use the technology will include “audio visual and medical devices, as well as telecommunications equipment.” Samsung also says the technology will be “integral to developments relevant to the Samsung Smart Home and other initiatives related to the Internet of Things.”

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes that WhatsApp is adding a feature that may elevate it for many users' purposes: VoIP. "Apps like Viber, Skype, Tango and Google Hangout already support VoIP, which allows you to make voice calls over a broadband connection. Beyond WhatsApp's huge pool of over 600 million active users, which will undoubtedly disrupt cell service providers' payment model, what is even more intriguing is the VoIP recording feature. With the exception of third-party add-ons available for Skype, no other VoIP app includes this feature."

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
New submitter catchblue22 writes MIT Technology Review has an excellent article summarizing the current state of quantum computing. It focuses on the efforts of Microsoft and Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs to build stable qubits over the past few years. "In 2012, physicists in the Netherlands announced a discovery in particle physics that started chatter about a Nobel Prize. Inside a tiny rod of semiconductor crystal chilled cooler than outer space, they had caught the first glimpse of a strange particle called the Majorana fermion, finally confirming a prediction made in 1937. It was an advance seemingly unrelated to the challenges of selling office productivity software or competing with Amazon in cloud computing, but Craig Mundie, then heading Microsoft's technology and research strategy, was delighted. The abstruse discovery — partly underwritten by Microsoft — was crucial to a project at the company aimed at making it possible to build immensely powerful computers that crunch data using quantum physics. "It was a pivotal moment," says Mundie. "This research was guiding us toward a way of realizing one of these systems."

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes with news that authorities in the Netherlands have arrested four drivers sharing their car for money through the Uberpop app. The drivers where then released with a fine of EUR 4200 (USD 5300) each and further threatened with additional fines of EUR 10000 (USD 12600) for each time they might be caught doing it again. While similar bullying applied to short rentals of private rooms through sites like Airbnb hasn't had the same success so far the thoughts go to the fined drivers, hoping they won't ever be caught carrying their grandmother to the supermarket then have to explain how they dared.The Uber company says it will "fully support" the affected drivers."

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
sciencehabit writes Clostridium difficile infections kill approximately 14,000 Americans every year, often because the diarrhea-causing bacteria are highly resistant to standard antibiotics. Now, scientists have found an unusual way to combat the bugs: human feces in pill form. In the new study, researchers show that frozen fecal matter encapsulated in clear, 1.6 g synthetic pills was just as safe and effective as traditional fecal transplant techniques at treating C. difficile. Within 8 weeks or less, 18 out of 20 participants saw a complete resolution of diarrhea after consuming 30 or 60 of the feces-filled capsules. "It's probably not the best experience of your life," says team leader Ilan Youngster, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at Harvard University. "But it beats getting a tube stuck down your throat or a colonoscopy or having C. diff."

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to have been diagnosed in the U.S. with Ebola, and who subsequently died of the disease, was treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Now, in a second diagnosis for the U.S, an unidentified health-care worker from the hospital has tested positive for Ebola as well. According to the linked Reuters story, Texas officials did not identify the worker or give any details about the person, but CNN said it was a woman nurse. The worker was wearing full protective gear when in contact with Duncan, Texas Health Resources chief clinical officer Dan Varga told a news conference. "We are very concerned," Varga said. "We don't have a full analysis of all of the care. We are going through that right now." ... The worker was self-monitoring and has not worked during the last two days, Varga said. The worker was taking their own temperature twice a day and, as a result of the monitoring, the worker informed the hospital of a fever and was isolated immediately upon their arrival, the hospital said in a statement. (Also covered by the Associated Press, as carried by the Boston Globe, which notes that "If the preliminary diagnosis is confirmed, it would be the first known case of the disease being contracted or transmitted in the U.S.")

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes Alan Boyle writes that over the years, Elon Musk's showmanship, straight-ahead smarts and far-out ideas have earned him a following that spans the geek spectrum — to the point that some observers see glimmers of the aura that once surrounded Apple's Steve Jobs. "To me, it feels like he's the most obvious inheritor of Steve Jobs' mantle," says Ashlee Vance who's writing a biography of Musk that at one time had the working title "The Iron Man." "Obviously, Steve Jobs' products changed the world ... [But] if Elon's right about all these things that he's after, his products should ultimately be more meaningful than what Jobs came up with. He's the guy doing the most concrete stuff about global warming." So what is Musk's vision? What motivates Musk at the deepest level? "It's his Mars thing," says Vance. Inspired in part by the novels of Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, Musk has come around to the view that humanity's long-term future depends on extending its reach beyond Earth, starting with colonies on Mars. Other notables like physicist Stephen Hawking have laid out similar scenarios — but Musk is actually doing something to turn those interplanetary dreams into a reality. Vance thinks that Musk is on the verge of breaking out from geek guru status to a level of mass-market recognition that's truly on a par with the late Steve Jobs. Additions to the Tesla automotive line, plus the multibillion-dollar promise of Tesla's battery-producing "gigafactory" in Nevada, could push Musk over the edge. "Tesla, as a brand, really does seem to have captured the public's imagination. ... All of a sudden he's got a hip product that looks great, and it's creating jobs. The next level feels like it's got to be that third-generation, blockbuster mainstream product. The story is not done."

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
hackingbear writes The Supreme People's Court, China's top court, has outlined the liabilities of network service providers in a document on the handling of online personal rights violation cases. "Rights violators usually hide in the dark online. They post harmful information out of the blue, and victims just can't be certain whom they should accuse when they want to bring the case to court," said Yao Hui, a senior SPC judge specializing in civil cases. Those re-posting content that violates others' rights and interests will also answer for their actions, and their liability will be determined based on the consequences of their posts, the online influence of re-posters, and whether they make untruthful changes to content that mislead. This essentially tries to ban the so-called human flesh searching. Though this does not stop others from using the chance to highlight the country's censorship problems even though the rulings seem to focus on personal privacy protection.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
hackingbear writes The Supreme People's Court, China's top court, has outlined the liabilities of network service providers in a document on the handling of online personal rights violation cases. "Rights violators usually hide in the dark online. They post harmful information out of the blue, and victims just can't be certain whom they should accuse when they want to bring the case to court," said Yao Hui, a senior SPC judge specializing in civil cases. Those re-posting content that violates others' rights and interests will also answer for their actions, and their liability will be determined based on the consequences of their posts, the online influence of re-posters, and whether they make untruthful changes to content that mislead. This essentially tries to ban the so-called human flesh searching. Though this does not stop others from using the chance to highlight the country's censorship problems even though the rulings seem to focus on personal privacy protection.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
While urging policy reform as more important than per-person safeguards, Edward Snowden had a few pieces of advice on maintaining online privacy for attendees at Saturday's New Yorker Festival. As reported by TechCrunch, Snowden's ideas for avoiding online intrusions (delivered via video link) sound simple enough, but may not be easy for anyone who relies on Google, Facebook, or DropBox, since those are three companies he names as ones to drop. A small slice: He also suggested that while Facebook and Google have improved their security, they remain “dangerous services” that people should avoid. (Somewhat amusingly, anyone watching the interview via Google Hangout or YouTube saw a Google logo above Snowden’s face as he said this.) His final piece of advice on this front: Don’t send unencrypted text messages, but instead use services like RedPhone and Silent Circle. Earlier in the interview, Snowden dismissed claims that increased encryption on iOS will hurt crime-fighting efforts. Even with that encryption, he said law enforcement officials can still ask for warrants that will give them complete access to a suspect’s phone, which will include the key to the encrypted data. Plus, companies like Apple, AT&T, and Verizon can be subpoenaed for their data.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
Chipmunk100 writes In a research article in the journal Cell scientists report that there is a subset of neurons that are vital in social interest of female mice for males during estrus, the sexually receptive phase of their cycle. They say that these neurons are responsive to oxytocin. The level of oxytocin rise when we hug or kiss a loved one. The BBC has an article on the findings as well, and reports that Without [oxytocin], female mice were no more attracted to a mate than to a block of Lego ... [The affected] neurons are situated in the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain important for personality, learning and social behaviour. Both when the hormone was withheld and when the cells were silenced, the females lost interest in mating during oestrous, which is when female mice are sexually active.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
sciencehabit writes Scientists are reporting a significant advance in the quest to develop an alternative approach to nuclear fusion. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, using the lab's Z machine, a colossal electric pulse generator capable of producing currents of tens of millions of amperes, say they have detected significant numbers of neutrons — byproducts of fusion reactions — coming from the experiment. This, they say, demonstrates the viability of their approach and marks progress toward the ultimate goal of producing more energy than the fusion device takes in.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes with a report at Ars Technica about how a small bug can lead to a security problem. In this case, the problem is that quotation marks — or the lack of them — can be significant. From the Ars article: "The scenario... requires a 'standard' user with access rights to create a directory to a fileserver and an administrator executing a vulnerable script," Frank Lycops and Raf Cox, security researchers with The Security Factory, said in an e-mail interview. "This allows the attacker to gain the privileges of the user running the script, thus becoming an administrator." While the attack falls short of the severity of the Shellshock family of Linux shell vulnerabilities, the two researchers stressed that it's a good example of how untrusted input can be used to execute commands on a system. The researchers identified at least one popular script with the vulnerability. When the script attempts to set the starting directory for system administration work, it inadvertently runs the command appended to the malicious directory's name as well. ... The solution is to use proper coding practices—in this case, the judicious use of quotation marks. Quotation marks are used in the shell environment to make sure that the data inside the quotes is not interpreted by the program as a command.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
mrspoonsi writes There are only "around 100" cybercriminal kingpins behind global cybercrime, according to the head of Europol's Cybercrime Centre. Speaking to the BBC, Troels Oerting said that law enforcers needed to target the "rather limited group of good programmers". "We roughly know who they are. If we can take them out of the equation then the rest will fall down," he said. "This is not a static number, it will increase unfortunately," he said. "We can still cope but the criminals have more resources and they do not have obstacles. They are driven by greed and profit and they produce malware at a speed that we have difficulties catching up with." The biggest issue facing cybercrime fighters at the moment was the fact that it was borderless. "Criminals no longer come to our countries, they commit their crimes from a distance and because of this I cannot use the normal tools to catch them. "I have to work with countries I am not used to working with and that scares me a bit," he said The majority of the cybercrime "kingpins" were located in the Russian-speaking world, he said.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
Advocatus Diaboli writes with this snippet from The Intercept: The National Security Agency has had agents in China, Germany, and South Korea working on programs that use "physical subversion" to infiltrate and compromise networks and devices, according to documents obtained by The Intercept. The documents, leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, also indicate that the agency has used under cover operatives to gain access to sensitive data and systems in the global communications industry, and that these secret agents may have even dealt with American firms. The documents describe a range of clandestine field activities that are among the agency's "core secrets" when it comes to computer network attacks, details of which are apparently shared with only a small number of officials outside the NSA.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes Alex Hutchinson writes at Runner's World that runners have cut the distance to the sub-two marathon in half since 1998, but it will get progressively harder to trim the remaining seconds. Still, the physiologists tell us that it's not impossible, meaning it is possible. Hutchinson says it will take several things: a cold day in March or November; a straight, flat course that is mind-numbingly boring; pacemakers who will shepherd leaders around the course cutting the wind and setting the pace; and a runner with a frame of about 5'6", weight of about 120 pounds, and towering self-confidence.The road is so flat and straight, you can see them coming from a mile away. Six runners flow in arrowhead formation around the Canadian city of Saskatoon. The early November air is still and dry, the sky overcast, and the temperature hovers a bit above freezing, just as predicted. All in their early 20s, they've been training together for this moment for years; only in the last month did their coach select which three will go for the record. The remaining three form the front of the arrowhead, blocking the wind and enduring the mental effort of controlling the pace. Should one of them cross the finish line in two hours—or faster—all six will share equally in the $50 million jackpot promised by the heirs to the Hoka One One fortune. The pot of money is up for grabs, for any runner, anywhere in the world. The chase is on. So, will they make it? And what year is this? I'm saying the year is...2075—and they make it.

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