posted 15 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Scott Rosenberg, author of Dreaming in Code dissects Apple's Swift, Google's Go, and other new languages — why they were created, what makes them different, and what they bring (or not) to programmers. "In very specific ways, both Go and Swift exemplify and embody the essences of the companies that built them: the server farm vs. the personal device; the open Web vs. the App Store; a cross-platform world vs. a company town. Of all the divides that distinguish programming languages—compiled or interpreted? static vs. dynamic variable typing? memory-managed/garbage-collected or not?—these might be the ones that matter most today."

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: I am a graduate student in his twenties who used to be able to read dozens and dozens of lengthy books in his childhood. Over the years, I have noticed that my attention span and ability to concentrate has decreased noticeably, seemingly in synchronization with society's increased connectedness with the Internet and constant stimulation from computers and mobile devices alike. I have noticed that myself and others seem to have a difficult time really sitting down to read anything or focus on anything relatively boring for even more than ten seconds (the "TL;DR Generation," as I sometimes call it). I see it when socializing with others or even during a professor's lecture. I have tried leaving my mobile phone at home and limiting myself to fewer browser tabs in an effort to regain concentration that I believe has been lost in recent years. Nonetheless, this is an issue that has begun to adversely affect my academic studies and may only get worse in time. What advice do fellow Slashdot users have with regard to reclaiming what has been lost? Should such behaviors simply be accepted as a sign of the times?

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
msm1267 writes: Leslie Caldwell, assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the Department of Justice, announced on Thursday the creation of a new Cybercrime Unit, tasked with enhancing public-private security efforts. A large part of the Cybersecurity Unit's mission will be to quell the growing distrust many Americans have toward law enforcement's high-tech investigative techniques. (Even if that lack of trust, as Caldwell claimed, is based largely on misinformation about the technical abilities of the law enforcement tools and the manners in which they are used.) "In fact, almost every decision we make during an investigation requires us to weigh the effect on privacy and civil liberties, and we take that responsibility seriously," Caldwell said. "Privacy concerns are not just tacked onto our investigations, they are baked in."

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
JoeyRox writes: The publicized goal of Tesla's "gigafactory" is to make electric cars more affordable. However, that benefit may soon be eclipsed by the gigafactory's impact on roof-top solar power storage costs, putting the business model of utilities in peril. "The mortal threat that ever cheaper on-site renewables pose" comes from systems that include storage, said physicist Amory Lovins. "That is an unregulated product you can buy at Home Depot that leaves the old business model with no place to hide."

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
Jason Koebler writes: The shape of DNA is a double helix, right? That's what we are taught. Well, now the answer is "not always." Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered how to program DNA to be shaped like a bowl, or a spiral, or a ring, or other shapes that aren't found in nature. It's the latest in a string of discoveries about the underlying structure of life and the building blocks by which it's made. Recently, scientists created new nucleotides that do not exist in nature and inserted them into a living organism. And now, this: DNA can look like just about anything and can be assembled into many shapes.

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
New submitter jonhorvath writes: Several of the top contributors to Node.js, a popular open source run-time environment, have decided to fork the project, creating io.js as an alternative. The developers were unhappy with how cloud computing company Joyent was directing work on Node.js. Mikeal Rogers said, "We don't want to have just one person who's appointed by a company making decisions. We want contributors to have more control, to seek consensus." Here's the new repository, and a README file to go with it. A developer at Uber tweeted that they've already migrated to io.js on their production systems. It'll be interesting to see how many other sites follow.

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
PaisteUser sends word that NASA's Orion capsule successfully reached orbit this morning after a flawless launch atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket. Video of the launch is available on YouTube, and the Orion Mission blog has frequent updates as mission milestones are reached. Mission managers said the rocket and capsule performed perfectly during the initial phases of the test. "It was just a blast to see how well the rocket did," said Mark Geyer, NASA's Orion program manager. After Orion makes its first circuit around the planet, the rocket's upper stage will kick it into a second, highly eccentric orbit that loops as far as 3,600 miles from Earth. Then Orion will come screaming back into Earth's atmosphere at a speed of 20,000 mph — 80 percent of the velocity that a spacecraft returning from the moon would experience. This particular Orion is missing a lot of the components that would be needed for a crewed flight, and it won't be carrying humans. Instead, it's outfitted with more than 1,200 sensors to monitor how its communication and control systems deal with heightened radiation levels, how its heat shield handles re-entry temperatures that are expected to rise as high as 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and how its parachutes slow the craft down for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes Donald McNeil writes in the NYT that this year's flu season may be deadlier than usual because this year's flu vaccine is a relatively poor match to a new virus that is now circulating. "Flu is unpredictable, but what we've seen thus far is concerning," says Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. According to the CDC, five U.S. children have died from flu-related complications so far this season. Four of them were infected with influenza A viruses, including three cases of H3N2 infections. The new H3 subtype first appeared overseas in March but because it was not found in many samples in the United States until September, it is now too late to change the vaccine. Because of the increased danger from the H3 strain — and because B influenza strains can also cause serious illness — the CDC recommends that patients with asthma, diabetes or lung or heart problems see a doctor at the first sign of a possible flu, and that doctors quickly prescribe antivirals like Tamiflu or Relenza. "H3N2 viruses tend to be associated with more severe seasons," says Frieden. "The rate of hospitalization and death can be twice as high or more in flu seasons when H3 doesn't predominate."

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
Science_afficionado writes After a nine month study, a Vanderbilt biologist has determined that the electric eel emits series of millisecond, high-voltage pulses to paralyze its prey just before it attacks. The high-voltage pulses cause the motor neurons in its target to violently contract, leaving it temporarily immobilized in the same fashion as the high-voltage pulses produced by a Taser. He documented this effect using high-speed video. The eel, which is nocturnal and has very poor eyesight, also uses closely spaced pairs of high-voltage pulses when hunting for hidden prey. He determined that the pulses cause the prey's body to twitch which produces water movements that the eel uses to locate its position even when it's hidden from view.

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes with today's installment of Sony hack news. "It's time to take a moment of silence for Sony Pictures, because more startling revelations about leaked information just came out and employees are starting to panic. BuzzFeed raked through some 40 gigabytes of data and found everything from medical records to unreleased scripts. This is probably the worst corporate hack in history. Meanwhile, Fusion's Kevin Roose is reporting on what exactly happened at Sony Pictures when the hack went down. The hack was evidently so extensive that even the company gym had to shut down. And once the hackers started releasing the data, people started 'freaking out,' one employee said. That saddest part about all of this is that the very worst is probably still to come. Hackers say they stole 100 terabytes of data in total. If only 40 gigabytes contained all of this damning information, just imagine what 100 terabytes contains."

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
qubezz writes For those who just can't wait in line, Starbucks announced today that the caffeinated city of Portland will be the first stop in the roll-out of an app for ordering drinks from your mobile device (iPhone only, Android anticipated in 2015). Not a delivery service — it appears your pre-paid drink will be waiting at the end of the bar for the asking. The cost? The app won't operate unless you allow it access to GPS location services, potentially turning every coffee consumer's device into a tracking beacon. For the rest, there's still the independent site mapping which Starbucks are currently open.

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
Hallie Siegel writes The second phase of an ambitious project to gather valuable information on ocean processes and marine life using a fleet of innovative marine robots has just reached its conclusion. Co-ordinated by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), the Exploring Ocean Fronts project took place off southwest England and saw the largest deployment of robotic vehicles ever attempted in UK water. The marine robot patrols successfully located tagged fish and tracked the movements of individual fish over several days by re-locating them.

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
gurps_npc writes Any password policy sufficiently complex to be secure is too complex to remember so people write them down. Worse, company policy is to leave a message on your answering machine describing it — when the software uses a 6 number password to get your 8 letter/symbol/number/capital/no dupes (ever) real password. I want to suggest a better method. I want to go with a two factor system — either token based or phone based (LaunchKey, Clef, Nok Nok). Does anyone have any advice on specific systems — or points I should bring up? Or alternatives such as graphical based passwords?

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
rossgneumann writes If there's intelligent life in the cosmos, it's probably nowhere we can get to anytime soon. At least that's the finding of the astrobiologist who, for the first time in decades, has rendered a major update to the key formula scientists use to seek out interstellar life. That'd be the Drake equation, which was developed over half a century ago to determine where life might lurk in the universe. Using the new Kepler data, astrobiologist Amri Wandel did some calculations to estimate the density of life-bearing worlds in our corner of the universe.

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
sciencehabit writes Advocates of "legal personhood" for chimpanzees have lost another battle. This morning, a New York appellate court rejected a lawsuit by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) to free a chimp named Tommy from captivity. The group had argued that the chimpanzee deserved the human right of bodily liberty. Despite the loss, the NhRP is pursuing more cases in the hopes of conferring legal rights to a variety of animals, from elephants to dolphins.

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posted 15 days ago on slashdot
crookedvulture writes The SSD Endurance Experiment previously covered on Slashdot has reached another big milestone: two freaking petabytes of writes. That's an astounding total for consumer-grade drives rated to survive no more than a few hundred terabytes. Only two of the initial six subjects made it to 2PB. The Kingston HyperX 3K, Intel 335 Series, and Samsung 840 Series expired on the road to 1PB, while the Corsair Neutron GTX faltered at 1.2PB. The Samsung 840 Pro continues despite logging thousands of reallocated sectors. It has remained completely error-free throughout the experiment, unlike a second HyperX, which has suffered a couple of uncorrectable errors. The second HyperX is mostly intact otherwise, though its built-in compression tech has reduced the 2PB of host writes to just 1.4PB of flash writes. Even accounting for compression, the flash in the second HyperX has proven to be far more robust than in the first. That difference highlights the impact normal manufacturing variances can have on flash wear. It also illustrates why the experiment's sample size is too small to draw definitive conclusions about the durability of specific models. However, the fact that all the drives far exceeded their endurance specifications bodes well for the endurance of consumer-grade SSDs in general.

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posted 16 days ago on slashdot
The Intercept has published today a story detailing documents that "reveal how the NSA plans to secretly introduce new flaws into communication systems so that they can be tapped into—a controversial tactic that security experts say could be exposing the general population to criminal hackers." The documents also describe a years-long effort, aimed at hostile and friendly regimes, from the point of view of the U.S. government, to break the security of various countries' communications networks. "Codenamed AURORAGOLD, the covert operation has monitored the content of messages sent and received by more than 1,200 email accounts associated with major cellphone network operators, intercepting confidential company planning papers that help the NSA hack into phone networks."

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posted 16 days ago on slashdot
At Medium.com, Blake Ross takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the consumer protections that exist courtesy of the the Nevada Taxicab Authority, which (putting it mildly) seem to be rather more friendly to the existing taxi businesses in Las Vegas than they are to any disgruntled riders. By contrast with Uber (just booted from Las Vegas), Ross points out that the Taxicab Authority relies on antiquated complaint forms, random police checks, overlooked airport signs, and expensive tracking devices. Nonethess, says Ross, "I stand with Nevada and say—leave this to the pros."

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posted 16 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes The NYT reports that NY County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.'s most significant initiative has been to transform, through the use of data, the way district attorneys fight crime. "The question I had when I came in was, Do we sit on our hands waiting for crime to tick up, or can we do something to drive crime lower?" says Vance. "I wanted to develop what I call intelligence-driven prosecution." When Vance became DA in 2009, it was glaringly evident that assistant D.A.s fielding the 105,000-plus cases a year in Manhattan seldom had enough information to make nuanced decisions about bail, charges, pleas or sentences. They were narrowly focused on the facts of cases in front of them, not on the people committing the crimes. They couldn't quickly sort minor delinquents from irredeemably bad apples. They didn't know what havoc defendants might be wreaking in other boroughs.

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posted 16 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes A client who was dissatisfied with the service of an immigration company in Canada took her grievances online, upon which she was sued for defamation and libel by the owner of the company. A Canadian superior court has tossed out the lawsuit with the note: "One may be dissatisfied with the quality or efficiency of services but expressing one's dissatisfaction is not equivalent to defamation." The court noted: "This demand is grossly exaggerated. It flirts with frivolity and abuse within the meaning given to these words in Article 54.1 C.C.P."

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posted 16 days ago on slashdot
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "When thinking about the early days of Apple, most people who know even a little bit about the company probably picture Steve Jobs and cofounder Steve Wozniak busily brainstorming in a small garage in Silicon Valley. That's how the story goes — in fact, the garage where they famously started the company was even deemed a historical site last year. Wozniak, however, doesn't really see that location as a crucial part of Apple's history. "The garage is a bit of a myth," he told Bloomberg Businessweek's Brandon Lisy when asked whether the garage was important to Apple's story. "We did no designs there, no breadboarding, no prototyping, no planning of products. We did no manufacturing there." The garage served as a familiar location for him and Jobs in the early days, Wozniak said, but that's about it. "The garage didn't service much purpose, except it was something for us to feel was our home," he said. "We had no money. You have to work out of your home when you have no money.""

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posted 16 days ago on slashdot
jones_supa writes In past builds of Windows 10 Technical Preview there has been an interesting feature called Battery Saver, but for the time being it has been just a mockup. In a leaked build 9888, the code is now in place. Battery Saver, as the name implies, will help your mobile device make the most out of your battery. This feature works by limiting the background activity on your device when the mode is activated. You can turn the feature on any time but there is also a setting to have it automatically turn on when the battery capacity goes below a user-defined percentage. Considering that this build was not supposed to make its way out of Redmond and that the company is not releasing any new builds this year, this may be the best look we get until the Consumer Preview arrives.

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posted 16 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Researchers from CMU, Telefonica, and Politecnico di Torino have presented a paper at ACM CoNEXT that quantifies the cost of the "S" in HTTPS. The study shows that today major players are embracing end-to-end encryption, so that about 50% of web traffic is carried by HTTPS. This is a nice testament to the feasibility of having a fully encrypted web. The paper pinpoints also the cost of encryption, that manifests itself through increases in the page loading time that go above 50%, and possible increase in battery usage. However, the major loss due to the "S" is the inability to offer any in-network value added services, that are offered by middle-boxes, such as caching, proxying, firewalling, parental control, etc. Are we ready to accept it? (Presentation can be downloaded from here.)

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posted 16 days ago on slashdot
DW100 writes The UK has completed a highly challenging rollout of broadband to remote islands in Scotland, covering 250km of seabed. The work has taken many months but will mean some 150,000 residents in the islands will be able to get broadband of up to 80Mbps. A cable laying ship, the Rene Descartes, carried out the work, with the longest cable stretching 50 miles between islands.

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posted 16 days ago on slashdot
According to NBC news, "A series of delays held up the maiden launch of NASA's Orion capsule on Thursday, adding some extra suspense to the first test of a spacecraft that's designed to take humans farther than they've ever gone — including to Mars." The much-anticipated launch, which had been scheduled for launch 7:05 a.m. Florida time, is to boost into orbit — empty — an instance of the Orion crew capsule intended to be part of a manned mission to Mars. As of shortly after 9 a.m. eastern time, troubleshooting has been in progress on the Alliance Delta 4 launch vehicle's hydrogen fill and drain valves in attempt to make the launch within today's launch window, which extends to 9:44 a.m. Friday and Saturday have been designated as backup dates.

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