posted 9 days ago on slashdot
jfruh writes You might think that DSL lost the race to cable and fibre Internet years ago, but Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs is working on a host or projects to extract more and faster bandwidth out of existing technologies. The company's G.fast technology aims to get hundreds of megabits a second over telephone lines. Other projects are aiming to boost speeds over fibre and cell networks as well.

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
schwit1 writes Starting in 1992, the Justice Department amassed logs of virtually all telephone calls from the USA to as many as 116 countries. The now-discontinued operation, carried out by the DEA's intelligence arm, was the government's first known effort to gather data on Americans in bulk, sweeping up records of telephone calls made by millions of U.S. citizens regardless of whether they were suspected of a crime. It was a model for the massive phone surveillance system the NSA launched to identify terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks. That dragnet drew sharp criticism that the government had intruded too deeply into Americans' privacy after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked it to the news media two years ago. More than a dozen current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials described the details of the Justice Department operation to USA TODAY. Most did so on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the intelligence program, part of which remains classified. The operation had 'been approved at the highest levels of Federal law enforcement authority,' including then-Attorney General Janet Reno and her deputy, Eric Holder.

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
astroengine writes The primordial planet believed to have smashed into baby Earth, creating a cloud of debris that eventually formed into the moon, was chemically a near-match to Earth, a new study shows. The finding, reported in this week's Nature, helps resolve a long-standing puzzle about why Earth and the moon are nearly twins in terms of composition. Computer models show that most of the material that formed the moon would have come from the shattered impactor, a planetary body referred to as Theia, which should have a slightly different isotopic makeup than Earth.

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
sabri points out that Reddit CEO Ellen Pao plans to ban salary negotiations in an attempt to equalize pay for men and women. "After losing a sex-discrimination lawsuit in Silicon Valley last week, Ellen Pao continues on her crusade to bring gender equality to the tech world, but this time with a focus on her home turf. As Reddit’s interim CEO, Pao said she wants to eliminate salary negotiations from the company’s hiring process. In her first interview since the lawsuit, Pao told with the Wall Street Journal Monday that the plan would help level the playing field. 'Men negotiate harder than women do and sometimes women get penalized when they do negotiate,' she said. 'So as part of our recruiting process we don’t negotiate with candidates. We come up with an offer that we think is fair. If you want more equity, we’ll let you swap a little bit of your cash salary for equity, but we aren’t going to reward people who are better negotiators with more compensation.'"

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
Meet Aron Hsaio. He works for Terapeak, a company that tracks sales through online venues such as eBay and Amazon in order to help merchants decide what to sell -- and how. The five 'maker' categories Terapeak tracks (drones, robotics, Arduino, Raspberry Pi and 3D printing) outsold Star Trek-related merchandise by a huge amount, namely $33 million to $4.3 million, during a recent 90 day study period. Star Wars merchandise did better at $29.4 million, but still... And as another comparison, Aron says that all Apple laptops combined, new and used, sold $48.4 million, so the DIY hobbyist movement still has a ways to go before it catches up with Apple laptops -- but seems to be heading steadily in that direction. Drones are the hottest hobbyist thing going right now, Aron says, but all five of the hobbyist/tinkerer' categories Terapeak tracks are growing steadily at a rate of up to 70% year over year, with drones leading the way and robotics trailing (but still growing). It's good to see people taking an interest in making things for themselves. If you remember (or have heard of) the Homebrew Computer Club, you have an idea of what tinkerers and hobbyists can produce if given even a tiny bit of encouragement. And it's good to see that the DIY mindset is not only still alive, but growing -- even if it seems to be moving away from traditional hobby tinkering (cars; radios) toward concepts (drones; robotics) that weren't considered mass market 'homebrew' possibilities even a few years ago.

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
Nerval's Lobster writes Wired has an excerpt from a new book of Google-centric workplace advice, written by Laszlo Bock, the search-engine giant's head of "People Operations" (re: Human Resources). In an interesting twist, Bock kicks off the excerpt by describing the brainteaser questions that Google is famous for tossing at job candidates as "useless," before suggesting that some hiring managers at the company might still use them. ("Sorry about that," he offered.) Rather than ask candidates to calculate the number of golf balls that can fit inside a 747 (or why manhole covers are round), Google now runs its candidates through a battery of work-sample tests and structured interviews, which its own research and data-crunching suggest is best at finding the most successful candidates. Google also relies on a tool (known as qDroid), which automates some of the process—the interviewer can simply input which job the candidate is interviewing for, and receive a guide with optimized interview questions. It was only a matter of time before people got sick of questions like, "Why are manhole covers round?"

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
Toshito writes Desjardins Insurance has launched a smartphone app that tracks driver behaviour in return for the promise of substantial savings on car insurance. Two years ago, Desjardins began offering a telematic device that plugs into a vehicle's diagnostic port, to track acceleration, hard braking and the time of day you were driving, for instance. Now, there's no plug-in device required. With Desjardins's new Ajusto app, all you need is your smartphone. But this comes with great concerns over privacy, and problems have been reported where the device was logging data when the user was riding a bus instead of driving his own car.

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
itwbennett writes Employees at three call centers in Mexico, Colombia and the Philippines sold hundreds of thousands of AT&T customer records, including names and Social Security numbers, to criminals who attempted to use the customer information to unlock stolen mobile phones, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said. AT&T has agreed to pay a $25 million civil penalty, which is the largest related to a data breach and customer privacy in the FCC's history.

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
sciencehabit writes Astronomers have detected chemical precursors of building blocks of life in the large disk of dust and gas whirling around a young nearby star. These complex organic molecules, two forms of cyanide and one chemically related compound, likely formed after the protoplanetary disk collapsed, the researchers say. The same chemicals are found in roughly similar proportions in comets circling our sun, which may have brought them to Earth billions of years ago. "We know that the solar system isn't unique in its number of planets or abundance of water," says Karin Öberg, an astrochemist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "Now we know that we're not unique in organic chemistry. From a life in the universe point of view, this is great news."

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes A lawsuit between Apple and Google could drastically change the power balance between patent holders and device makers. "The dispute centers on so-called standard-essential patents, which cover technology that is included in industry-wide technology standards. Since others have to use the technology if they want their own products to meet an industry standard, the companies that submit their patents for approval by standards bodies are required to license them out on 'reasonable and non-discriminatory',(paywalled) or RAND, terms." If Apple wins, the understanding of what fees are RAND may decrease by at least an order of magnitude.

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Speaking at "Secrecy Week" at the University of Utah, one of the two journalists who helped disseminate Edward Snowden's revelations about the scope of National Security Agency surveillance has criticized universities which open up their campuses to government agencies in exchange for funding. Ex-Guardian journalist and lawyer Glenn Greenwald, one of Snowden's first contacts after his flight from the NSA, commented: "Even if you think that you're the kind of person who does not have things to hide, just living in a world where you think you're being watched and recorded it changes your behavior from being a free individual. I would submit, and I don't think that it's in dispute, that we are far closer to the tyrannical model than we are the free model."

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes "A Boston jury has reached a verdict in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who admitted that he planted a bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon that left three dead and wounded 264 others. After deliberating for 11½ hours the jury has found Dzhokhar guilty on all 30 charges brought against him."

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
jfruh writes LG will let people in a host of countries use its G4 free for 30 days — with the hope that this will result in positive buzz on social media sites. From the article: "By offering 4,000 people a G4 for 30 days, the company hopes to create some buzz around its new device as flagship devices from its rivals Samsung Electronics and HTC go on sale. The Consumer Experience Campaign kicks off in South Korea on Wednesday, and will then expand to Turkey, Indonesia, Singapore, U.S., China, India, Brazil, Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong, LG said."

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader sends word that Hawaii Gov. David Ige has asked for a week-long hold in the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea. "After more than a week of demonstrations and dozens of arrests, Hawaii Gov. David Ige said Tuesday that the company building one of the world's largest telescopes atop Hawaii's Mauna Kea has agreed to his request to halt construction for a week. 'They have responded to my request and on behalf of the president of the University and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs have agreed to a time out on the project, and there will be no construction activities this week,' Ige said at a news conference. Thirty Meter Telescope is constructing the telescope on land that is held sacred to some Native Hawaiians. Scientists say the location is ideal for the telescope, which could allow them to see into the earliest years of the universe. Ige said he hopes the temporary pause in construction will allow the interested parties to have more discussions about the project. Native Hawaiian groups have been protesting the construction of the telescope since its inception last year."

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
Loren Chorley writes: The idea of constructing a language capable of replacing English has fascinated me for a long time. I'd like to start a project with some of my own ideas and anyone who's interested, but I'd really like to hear what the Slashdot community thinks on the topic first. Taking for granted that actually replacing English is highly unlikely, what characteristics would the new language need? More specifically: How could the language be made as easy as possible to learn coming from any linguistic background? How could interest in the language be fostered in as many people as possible? What sort of grammar would you choose and why? How would you build words and how would you select meanings for them, and why? What sounds and letters (and script(s)) would you choose? How important is simplicity and brevity? How important are aesthetics (and what makes a language aesthetic)? What other factors could be important to consider, and what other things would you like to see in such a language?

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes: The Washington Post reports on new comments from President Obama, who says global warming isn't just affecting the weather — it's harming Americans' health. He has announced steps government and businesses will take to better understand and deal with the problem. Obama said hazards of the changing climate include wildfires sending more pollution into the air, allergy seasons growing longer, and rising cases of insect-borne diseases. "We've got to do better in protecting our vulnerable families," said Obama. "You can't cordon yourself off from air." Speaking at Howard University Medical School, Obama announced commitments from Google, Microsoft and others to help the nation's health system prepare for a warmer, more erratic climate. Google has promised to donate 10 million hours of advanced computing time on new tools, including risk maps and early warnings for things like wildfires and oil flares using the Google Earth Engine platform, the White House said. Google's camera cars that gather photos for its "Street View" function will start measuring methane emissions and natural gas leaks in some cities this year. Microsoft's research arm will develop a prototype for drones that can collect large quantities of mosquitoes, then digitally analyze their genes and pathogens. The goal is to create a system that could provide early warnings about infectious diseases that could break out if climate change worsens.

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
schwit1 sends this story from Foreign Policy: In the age of iris scans and facial recognition software, biometrics experts like to point out: The eyes don't lie. And that has made tradecraft all the more difficult for U.S. spies. After billions of dollars of investment — largely by the U.S. government — the routine collection and analysis of fingerprints, iris scans, and facial images are helping to ferret out terrorists and immigration fraudsters all over the world. But it has also made it harder for undercover agents to remain anonymous. Gone are the days of entering a country with a false passport and wearing a wig and a mustache to hide your true identity. Once an iris scan is on record, it becomes nearly impossible to evade detection. 'In the 21st century, you can't do any of that because of biometrics,' said retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: NASA has published an article detailing the vast amount of water found on other worlds in our solar system. "There are several worlds thought to possess liquid water beneath their surfaces, and many more that have water in the form of ice or vapor. Water is found in primitive bodies like comets and asteroids, and dwarf planets like Ceres. The atmospheres and interiors of the four giant planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — are thought to contain enormous quantities of the wet stuff, and their moons and rings have substantial water ice. Perhaps the most surprising water worlds are the five icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn that show strong evidence of oceans beneath their surfaces: Ganymede, Europa and Callisto at Jupiter, and Enceladus and Titan at Saturn." They've released an infographic to accompany the article. It's also bolstered by new research from the Niels Bohr Institute, which confirmed that glaciers on Mars do contain a large quantity of water ice. These glaciers are separate from the ice caps, existing in belts closer to the planet's equator. This ice has a total volume of roughly 150 billion cubic meters — enough to cover the entirety of Mars' surface with one meter of ice (abstract).

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Google, Apple and Microsoft chiefs were hauled in front of an Australian Senate Committee on Wednesday and forced to answer questions about their tax dodging structures. "Under questioning from Greens Senator Christine Milne, [Google's Maile Carnegie] revealed none of the revenue derived from Google's lucrative advertising business is taxed in Australia, rather it is booked in Singapore where the corporate tax rate is set at 17 per cent, as opposed to Australia's 30 per cent. ... However in the strongest defense yet of the company's complex tax structure, Ms Carnegie attempted to highlight the hypocrisy of criticising global technology companies for using the same approach that Australian mining firms, like Rio Tinto, use when deriving profits from China. 'These are international tax arrangements and what Google is doing in Australia is very very similar to what Australian companies are doing outside of Australia. I am not sitting here today trying to defend whether those practices are right or wrong, they are simply the way the global tax system is currently working and we are trying to operate within that.' Ms. Carnegie said it was up to the government to create a different system, which the company would then abide by."

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
theodp writes: With the FY2016 H-1B visa cap reached in the first week of April (only the USCIS knows how many applications were submitted by outsourcing companies and from Bentonville, AR), it's no surprise that groups like Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC and Steve Ballmer's Partnership for a New American Economy Action Fund are pooh-poohing Jesse Jackson's claims that foreign high-tech workers are taking American jobs, and promoting the idea that what's really holding back Americans from jobs is a lack of foreign tech workers with H-1B visas.

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
Sparrowvsrevolution writes: It turns out all those critics of the controversial Tor router project Anonabox might have been on to something. Late last month, Anonabox began contacting the first round of customers who bought its tiny, $100 privacy gadget to warn them of serious security flaws in the device, and to offer to ship them a more secure replacement free of charge. While the miniature routers do direct all of a user's Internet traffic over Tor as promised, the company says that its first batch lacked basic password protection, with no way to keep out unwanted users in Wi-Fi range. And worse yet, the faulty Anonaboxes use the hardcoded root password 'admin,' which allows any of those Wi-Fi intruders to completely hijack the device, snooping on or recording all of a user's traffic. Anonabox's parent company, Sochutel, says that only 350 of the devices lacked that password protection, and that it's fixed the gaping security oversights in newer version of the router. The initial security criticisms of Anonabox helped to convince Kickstarter to freeze the proejct's $600,000 crowdfunding campaign in October. But Anonabox relaunched on Indiegogo and was later acquired by the tech firm Sochutel. Sochutel claims that the security flaws in the routers developed prior to its acquisition of Anonabox were out of its control, and that it's now hiring outside auditors to check its products' security.

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Ellen Stofan, chief scientist at NASA, predicts we're not far off from finding evidence for alien life. At a panel discussion yesterday, she said, "I think we're going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we're going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years." She added, "We know where to look. We know how to look. In most cases we have the technology, and we're on a path to implementing it." Stofan thinks putting astronauts on Mars will be a big part of that goal. As efficient as robot missions are, she thinks it'll take humans digging and cracking rocks to find definitive evidence for life on other worlds.

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
darthcamaro writes: It was on April 7, 2014 that the CVE-2014-0160 vulnerability titled "TLS heartbeat read overrun" in OpenSSL was first publicly disclosed — but to many its a bug known simply as Heartbleed. A new report from certificate vendor Venafi claims that 76% of organizations are still at risk, though it's a statistic that is contested by other vendors as well as other statistics. Qualys' SSL Pulse claims that only 0.3 percent of sites are still at risk. Whatever the risk is today, the bottom line is that Heartbleed did change the security conversation — but did it change it for the better or the worse? A related article explores how Heartbleed could have been found earlier.

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. government has announced plans to help train 75,000 people to enter the solar workforce by 2020, including a number of veterans. The new goal is part of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative, which helps fund research, manufacturing and market creation. The SunShot Initiative's Solar Instructor Training Network works with 400 community colleges across the country for training, and claims to have already certified 1,000 solar instructors and nearly 30,000 students in the last five years. Ultimately, the SunShot Initiative has a goal for solar energy to reach price parity with conventional power sources in five years.

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
Origen writes: As a developer contemplating trying out the mobile game scene, a GDC session about hacking/tampering looked interesting — but I wasn't able to attend. The presentation isn't available online, but it was paired with a whitepaper [contact details required], which can be downloaded. I'm surprised by some of the information presented and the potential for damage/mischief. Not so much that these issues are unheard of — they've existed for years on other platforms. What I find surprising is the lack of support at the OS level on mobile devices to defend from many of these types of hacks. Have we learned nothing from the pains of the past? How significant are the points about hacking/piracy in the mobile space that are discussed by this whitepaper?

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