Ubuntu

Ubuntu May Beat Windows 10 To Phone-PC Convergence After All 13

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-in-one dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news that Mark Shuttleworth plans to have a Ubuntu smartphone that can be used as a PC out sometime this year. "Despite the recent announcement that Windows 10 phones will be able to be used as PCs when connected to an external monitor, Ubuntu—the first operating system to toy with the idea—hasn't conceded the smartphone-PC convergence race to Microsoft just yet. 'While I enjoy the race, I also like to win,' Ubuntu Foundation founder Mark Shuttleworth said during a Ubuntu Online Summit keynote, before announcing that Canonical will partner with a hardware manufacturer to release a Ubuntu Phone with smartphone-PC convergence features this year.
Open Source

Why Was Linux the Kernel That Succeeded? 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the belle-of-the-ball dept.
jones_supa writes: One of the most puzzling questions about the history of free and open source software is this: Why did Linux succeed so spectacularly, whereas similar attempts to build a free or open source, Unix-like operating system kernel met with considerably less success? Christopher Tozzi has rounded up some theories, focusing specifically on kernels, not complete operating systems. These theories take a detailed look at the decentralized development structure, pragmatic approach to things, and the rich developer community, all of which worked in favor of Linux.
Mars

NASA Will Award You $5,000 For Your Finest Mars City Idea 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-to-mars dept.
coondoggie writes: NASA this week said it would look to the public for cool ideas on how to build a sustainable environment on Mars with the best plan earning as much as $5,000. With the Journey to Mars Challenge, NASA wants applicants to describe one or more Mars surface systems or capabilities and operations that are needed to set up and establish a technically achievable, economically sustainable human living space on the red planet. Think air, water, food, communications systems and the like.
EU

Europe Vows To Get Rid of Geo-Blocking 77

Posted by Soulskill
from the this-article-only-available-at-select-latitudes dept.
AmiMoJo writes: The European Commission has adopted a new set of initiatives for digital technologies that aims to improve access to online services for everyday users. Among other things, Europe vows to end geo-blocking, which it describes as "a discriminatory practice used for commercial reasons," and lift other unwarranted copyright restrictions. Consumers will have the right to access content they purchased at home in other European countries. "I want to see every consumer getting the best deals and every business accessing the widest market – wherever they are in Europe," Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says.
News

Two Programmers Expose Dysfunction and Abuse In the Seattle Police Department 180

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-keep-your-heads-down dept.
reifman writes: Programmers Eric Rachner and Phil Mocek are now the closest thing Seattle has to a civilian police-oversight board. Through shrewd use of Washington's Public Records Act, the two have acquired hundreds of reports, videos, and 911 calls related to the Seattle Police Department's internal investigations of officer misconduct. Among some of Rachner and Mocek's findings: a total of 1,028 SPD employees (including civilian employees) were investigated between 2010 and 2013. (The current number of total SPD staff is 1,820.) Of the 11 most-investigated employees—one was investigated 18 times during the three-year period—every single one of them is still on the force, according to SPD.

In 569 allegations of excessive or inappropriate use of force (arising from 363 incidents), only seven were sustained—meaning 99 percent of cases were dismissed. Exoneration rates were only slightly smaller when looking at all the cases — of the total 2,232 allegations, 284 were sustained. This is partly why the Seattle PD is under a federal consent decree for retraining and oversight. You can check out some of the typically excellent Twitter coverage by Mocek from his #MayDaySea coverage.
Businesses

Apple Gets Antitrust Scrutiny Over Music Deals 37

Posted by Soulskill
from the apple-a-day-keeps-the-competition-at-bay dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reports that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is probing Apple after its acquisition of Beats Electronics, and its various deals with record labels to sell music through the iTunes store. As part of the acquisition, Apple now owns the music streaming service created by Beats, and they're planning to release a new version sometime soon. This makes their ties to the record labels, already deep because of iTunes, even stronger — and could affect the labels' relationships with other streaming services, like Spotify. Investigators want to know if Apple is using these business deals as leverage for "curtailing ad-supported music and pushing more songs into paid tiers of service at higher rates."
Medicine

The Medical Bill Mystery 371

Posted by Soulskill
from the $70-convenience-charge-to-process-the-convenience-charge dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Elisabeth Rosenthal writes in the NY Times that she has spent the past six months trying to figure out a medical bill for $225 that includes "Test codes: 105, 127, 164, to name a few. CPT codes: 87481, 87491, 87798 and others" and she really doesn't want to pay it until she understands what it's for. "At first, I left messages on the lab's billing office voice mail asking for an explanation. A few months ago, when someone finally called back, she said she could not tell me what the codes were for because that would violate patient privacy. After I pointed out that I was the patient in question, she said, politely: 'I'm sorry, this is what I'm told, and I don't want to lose my job.'" Bills variously use CPT, HCPCS or ICD-9 codes. Some have abbreviations and scientific terms that you need a medical dictionary or a graduate degree to comprehend. Some have no information at all. A Seattle resident received a $45,000 hospital bill with the explanation "miscellaneous."

So what's the problem? "Medical bills and explanation of benefits are undecipherable and incomprehensible even for experts to understand, and the law is very forgiving about that," says Mark Hall. "We've not seen a lot of pressure to standardize medical billing, but there's certainly a need." Hospitals and medical clinics say that detailed bills are simply too complicated for patients and that they provide the information required by insurers. But with rising copays and deductibles, patients are shouldering an increasing burden. One recent study found that up to 90 percent of hospital bills contain errors. An audit by Equifax found that hospital bills totaling more than $10,000 contained an average error of $1,300. "There are no industry standards with regards to what information a patient should receive regarding their bill," says Cyndee Weston, executive director of the American Medical Billing Association. "The software industry has pretty much decided what information patients should receive, and to my knowledge, they have not had any stakeholder input. That would certainly be a worthwhile project for our industry."
Government

Extreme Secrecy Eroding Support For Trans-Pacific Partnership 145

Posted by Soulskill
from the gee-that's-a-shame dept.
schwit1 writes with news that political support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership is drying up because of the secrecy involved in developing it. Members of Congress can read the bill if they want, but they need to be located in a single room within the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center, and they can't have their staff with them. They can't have a copy, they can't take notes, and they can only view one section at a time. And they're monitored while they read it. Unsurprisingly, this is souring many members of Congress on the controversial trade agreement.

"Administration aides say they can’t make the details public because the negotiations are still going on with multiple countries at once; if for example, Vietnam knew what the American bottom line was with Japan, that might drive them to change their own terms. Trade might not seem like a national security issue, they say, but it is (and foreign governments regularly try to hack their way in to American trade deliberations)."
Canada

Canadian Town Outlaws Online Insults To Police and Officials 133

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-canadians-are-so-rude dept.
Pig Hogger writes: The Canadian town of Granby, Québec, just strengthened its municipal bylaw that prohibits insulting police officers and town officials by extending its "jurisdiction" to online postings. Fines range from $100 to $1,000. The town's mayor said, "In my opinion, if I threaten you via my keyboard, it's as though I am making that threat right in front of you. For me, it's the same thing." Critics worry about the implications for freedom of speech, and wonder why police and officials should get protection an average citizen does not.
Businesses

Uber Forced Out of Kansas 228

Posted by Soulskill
from the click-your-heels dept.
mpicpp sends news that Uber has been forced to leave Kansas. The company says a bill pushed through the state legislature (SB117) makes it impossible for the company to operate there. The bill had been vetoed by Kansas governor Sam Brownback, but lawmakers secured enough votes to override it. "The measure requires drivers for ride-hailing companies to undergo background checks through the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and hold additional auto insurance coverage for the period in which they have turned on the mobile app that connects them to riders."
United Kingdom

Visualizations of Rebel Alliances In the UK Government 32

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-are-a-member-of-the-house-of-commons-and-a-traitor dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I just published an article and thought it might be of interest to Slashdot readers. It's about a collection visualizations I created based on public voting data from The Public Whip project, which collects and normalizes voting data from the UK House of Commons. The visualizations show relationships between MPs, with a focus on agreement rates, and more interestingly — rebellion.
Earth

The World's Most Wasteful Megacity 162

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-new-york dept.
merbs writes: The world's most wasteful megacity is a densely populated, steadily aging, consumerist utopia where we buy, and throw away, a staggering amount of stuff (abstract). Where some faucet, toilet, or pipe, is constantly leaking in our apartments. Where an armada of commerce-beckoning lights are always on. Where a fleet of gas-guzzling cars still clog the roadways. I, along with my twenty million or so neighbors, help New York City use more energy, suck down more water, and spew out more solid waste than any other mega-metropolitan area.
Network

The Ambitions and Challenges of Mesh Networks and the Local Internet Movement 52

Posted by Soulskill
from the net-positives-and-net-negatives dept.
Lashdots writes: Two artists in New York are hatching a plan to teach kids about the internet by building their own. They'll be creating a small, decentralized network, similar to a mesh network, to access other computers, and they'll be developing their own simple social network to communicate with other people. It's part of a growing movement to supplement the Internet with resilient, local alternatives. "And yet, while the decentralized, ad hoc network architecture appeals philosophically to tech-savvy users fed up with monopolistic ISPs, nobody’s found a way to make mesh networks work easily and efficiently enough to replace home Internet connections. Built more for resiliency than for speed, each participating router must continuously search for the best paths to far-flung machines. For now, that makes them of limited interest to many ordinary consumers who simply want to check their email and watch movies."
Businesses

Report: Microsoft Considering Salesforce Acquisition 57

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reports that Microsoft is considering making a bid for CRM and cloud software company Salesforce, after hearing that Salesforce was entertaining an offer from another company. No talks are underway, but Salesforce has started working with investment banks to figure out how it wants to respond to such offers. Salesforce has a market value of about $50 billion, so any sort of acquisition would be a huge business deal.
Earth

Recent Paper Shows Fracking Chemicals In Drinking Water, Industry Attacks It 308

Posted by timothy
from the they-never-factor-in-the-tastiness dept.
eldavojohn writes: A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences turned up 2-Butoxyethanol from samples collected from three households in Pennsylvania. The paper's level headed conclusion is that more conservative well construction techniques should be used to avoid this in the future and that flowback should be better controlled. Rob Jackson, another scientist who reviewed the paper, stressed that the findings were an exception to normal operations. Despite that, the results angered the PR gods of the Marcellus Shale Gas industry and awoke beltway insider mouthpieces to attack the research — after all, what are they paying them for?
Education

Led By Zuckerberg, Billionaires Give $100M To Fund Private Elementary Schools 222

Posted by samzenpus
from the price-of-an-education dept.
theodp writes: AltSchool, a 2-year-old software-fueled private elementary school initiative started by an ex-Googler, announced Monday a $100 million Series B round led by established VC firms and high-profile tech investors including Mark Zuckerberg, Laurene Powell Jobs, John Doerr, and Pierre Omidyar. AltSchool uses proprietary software that provides students with a personalized playlist lesson that teachers can keep close tabs on. Currently, a few hundred students in four Bay Area classrooms use AltSchool tech. Three more California classrooms, plus one in Brooklyn, are expected to come online this fall, plus one in Brooklyn. "We believe that every child should have access to an exceptional, personalized education that enables them to be happy and successful in an ever-changing world," reads AltSchool's mission statement. For $28,750-a-year, your kid can be one of them right now. Eventually, the plan is for the billionaire-bankrolled education magic to trickle down. AltSchool's pitch to investors, according to NPR, is that one day, charter schools or even regular public schools could outsource many basic functions to its software platform.
Businesses

Cisco Names Veteran Robbins To Succeed Chambers as CEO 32

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-guy-in-charge dept.
bledri writes: After 20 years as Cisco's CEO, John Chambers will step down this summer. The search for a replacement took a committee 16 months, and they selected Chuck Robbins, who was previously responsible for the company's global sales and partner team. From the article: "Wall Street analysts said a change was expected and could signal a refocusing of Cisco, which acquired dozens of companies under Chambers but has failed to make great headway outside its core networking business."
United States

House Panel Holds Hearing On "Politically Driven Science" - Without Scientists 345

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-got-politics-in-my-science dept.
sciencehabit writes: Representative Louie Gohmert (R–TX) is worried that scientists employed by the U.S. government have been running roughshod over the rights of Americans in pursuit of their personal political goals. So this week Gohmert, the chair of the oversight and investigations subpanel of the U.S. House of Representatives' Natural Resources Committee, held a hearing to explore "the consequences of politically driven science." Notably absent, however, were any scientists, including those alleged to have gone astray.
China

China Takes Its Already Strict Internet Regulations One Step Further 48

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-what-you-say dept.
New submitter DaveS7 writes with this story about new regulations from the Chinese government designed to further crack down on online media. Chinese authorities have released a new set of regulations for online media, raising concerns about tightening control over freedom of expression by the Communist regime. Contained in the ordinance, released on April 28 by the Cyberspace Administration of China, is a clause saying that persons responsible for managing flagged sites will be summoned by state personnel in case of violations. Internet censorship in China is mostly managed by individual websites, which are encouraged to toe the Party line before the Party steps in to rectify things for them. The new ordinance increases the number of conditions that, if met by online media, result in automatic state intervention.
Open Source

Accessibility In Linux Is Good (But Could Be Much Better) 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-inclusive-tux dept.
An anonymous reader sends this report from opensource.com: GNU/Linux distributions provide great advantages over proprietary alternatives for people with disabilities. All the accessibility tools included in Linux are open source, meaning their code is readily available if you want to examine or improve it, and cost nothing. Hardware devices, of course, are still going to cost money. Additionally, accessibility software on other platforms generally contain licensing constraints on the user. ... When it comes to accessibility, Linux is not without issues. ... The number of developers who specifically work on accessibility tools is quite small. For example, there is only one Orca developer, two AT-SPI developers, and a single GTK developer. ... Developers who do not depend on assistive technologies tend to forget—or don't know—that a disabled person might want to use their application, read their web page, and so on. ... The problem is not necessarily that developers do not care. Rather, it's is that accessibility is highly specialized and requires someone with knowledge in the area, regardless of platform.