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Bug

"ExamSoft" Bar Exam Software Fails Law Grads 17

Posted by timothy
from the until-it-happens-to-you dept.
New submitter BobandMax writes ExamSoft, the management platform software that handles digital bar exam submissions for multiple states, experienced a severe technical meltdown on Tuesday, leaving many graduates temporarily unable to complete the exams needed to practice law. The snafu also left bar associations from nearly 20 states with no choice but to extend their submission deadlines. It's not the first time, either: a classmate of mine had to re-do a state bar exam after an ExamSoft glitch on the first go-'round. Besides handling the uploading of completed exam questions, ExamSoft locks down the computer on which it runs, so Wikipedia is not an option.
Transportation

SpaceShipTwo Flies Again 15

Posted by timothy
from the up-in-the-air dept.
schwit1 writes "The competition heats up: For the first time in six months SpaceShipTwo completed a test flight [Tuesday]." The article linked is from NBC, which also has a deal with Virgin Galactic to televise the first commercial flight. It is thus in their interest to promote the spacecraft and company. The following two sentences from the article however clearly confirm every rumor we have heard about the ship in the past year, that they needed to replace or completely refit the engine and that the resulting thrust might not be enough to get the ship to 100 kilometers or 62 miles: "In January, SpaceShipTwo blasted off for a powered test and sailed through a follow-up glide flight, but then it went into the shop for rocket refitting. It's expected to go through a series of glide flights and powered flights that eventually rise beyond the boundary of outer space (50 miles or 100 kilometers in altitude, depending on who's counting)." Hopefully this test flight indicates that they have installed the new engine and are now beginning flight tests with equipment that will actually get the ship into space.
Technology

Student Uses Oculus Rift and Kinect To Create Body Swap Illusion 60

Posted by timothy
from the why-are-you-hitting-yourself dept.
kkleiner writes Using an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, Microsoft Kinect, a camera, and a handful of electrical stimulators, a London student's virtual reality system is showing users what it's like to swap bodies. Looking down, they see someone else's arms and legs; looking out, it's someone else's point of view; and when they move their limbs, the body they see does the same (those electrical stimulators mildly shock muscles to force a friend to mirror the user's movements). It's an imperfect system, but a fascinating example of the power of virtual reality. What else might we use VR systems for? Perhaps they'll prove useful in training or therapeutic situations? Or what about with robots, which would be easier to inhabit and control than another human? The virtual body swap may never fully catch on, but generally, virtual reality will likely prove useful for more than just gaming and entertainment.
Cellphones

Is the App Store Broken? 169

Posted by Soulskill
from the honeymoon-is-over dept.
A recent post by Instapaper's Marco Arment suggests that design flaws in Apple's App Store are harming the app ecosystem, and users are suffering because of it. "The dominance and prominence of 'top lists' stratifies the top 0.02% so far above everyone else that the entire ecosystem is encouraged to design for a theoretical top-list placement that, by definition, won’t happen to 99.98% of them." Arment notes that many good app developers are finding continued development to be unsustainable, while scammy apps are encouraged to flood the market.

"As the economics get tighter, it becomes much harder to support the lavish treatment that developers have given apps in the past, such as full-time staffs, offices, pixel-perfect custom designs of every screen, frequent free updates, and completely different iPhone and iPad interfaces. Many will give up and leave for stable, better-paying jobs. (Many already have.)" Brent Simmons points out the indie developers have largely given up the dream of being able to support themselves through iOS development. Yoni Heisler argues that their plight is simply a consequence of ever-increasing competition within the industry, though he acknowledges that more app curation would be a good thing. What strategies could Apple (and the operators of other mobile application stories) do to keep app quality high?
Businesses

Jesse Jackson: Tech Diversity Is Next Civil Rights Step 396

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

Quiet Cooling With a Copper Foam Heatsink 147

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

UK To Allow Driverless Cars By January 176

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

Black Hat Researchers Actively Trying To Deanonymize Tor Users 80

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-research-vs-bad-research dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Last week, we discussed news that a presentation had been canceled for the upcoming Black Hat security conference that involved the Tor Project. The researchers involved hadn't made much of an effort to disclose the vulnerability, and the Tor Project was scrambling to implement a fix. Now, the project says it's likely these researchers were actively attacking Tor users and trying to deanonymize them. "On July 4 2014 we found a group of relays that we assume were trying to deanonymize users. They appear to have been targeting people who operate or access Tor hidden services. The attack involved modifying Tor protocol headers to do traffic confirmation attacks. ...We know the attack looked for users who fetched hidden service descriptors, but the attackers likely were not able to see any application-level traffic (e.g. what pages were loaded or even whether users visited the hidden service they looked up). The attack probably also tried to learn who published hidden service descriptors, which would allow the attackers to learn the location of that hidden service." They also provide a technical description of the attack, and the steps they're taking to block such attacks in the future.
Networking

Ask Slashdot: Is Running Mission-Critical Servers Without a Firewall Common? 325

Posted by Soulskill
from the common-enough-to-make-you-sad dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I do some contract work on the side, and am helping a client set up a new point-of-sale system. For the time being, it's pretty simple: selling products, keeping track of employee time, managing inventory and the like. However, it requires a small network because there are two clients, and one of the clients feeds off of a small SQL Express database from the first. During the setup, the vendor disabled the local firewall, and in a number of emails back and forth since (with me getting more and more aggravated) they went from suggesting that there's no need for a firewall, to outright telling me that's just how they do it and the contract dictates that's how we need to run it. This isn't a tremendous deal today, but with how things are going, odds are there will be e-Commerce worked into it, and probably credit card transactions... which worries the bejesus out of me.

So my question to the Slashdot masses: is this common? In my admittedly limited networking experience, it's been drilled into my head fairly well that not running a firewall is lazy (if not simply negligent), and to open the appropriate ports and call it a day. However, I've seen forum posts here and there with people admitting they run their clients without firewalls, believing that the firewall on their incoming internet connection is good enough, and that their client security will pick up the pieces. I'm curious how many real professionals do this, or if the forum posts I'm seeing (along with the vendor in question) are just a bunch of clowns.
Wikipedia

An Accidental Wikipedia Hoax 154

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

Nuclear Missile Command Drops Grades From Tests To Discourage Cheating 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the D-for-darn-good dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this year, just over half of the military officers put in charge of U.S. nuclear launch facilities were implicated in an exam cheating scandal. The Air Force conducted regular exams to keep officers current on the protocols and skills required to operate some of the world's most dangerous weapons. But the way they graded the test caused problems. Anything below a 90% score was a fail, but the remaining 10% often dictated how a launch officer's career progressed. There might not be much functional difference between a 93% and a 95%, but the person scoring higher will get promoted disproportionately quicker. This inspired a ring of officers to cheat in order to meet the unrealistic expectations of the Air Force. Now, in an effort to clean up that Missile Wing, the Air Force is making the exams pass/fail. The officers still need to score 90% or higher (since it's important work with severe consequences for failure), but scores won't be recorded and used to compete for promotions anymore. The Air Force is also making an effort to replace or refurbish the aging equipment that runs these facilities.
The Courts

Ford, GM Sued Over Vehicles' Ability To Rip CD Music To Hard Drive 287

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-buy-a-car-every-time-i-want-to-steal-some-music dept.
Lucas123 writes: The Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies is suing Ford and General Motors for millions of dollars over alleged copyrights infringement violations because their vehicles' CD players can rip music to infotainment center hard drives. The AARC claims in its filing (PDF) that the CD player's ability to copy music violates the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992. The Act protects against distributing digital audio recording devices whose primary purpose is to rip copyrighted material. For example, Ford's owner's manual explains, "Your mobile media navigation system has a Jukebox which allows you to save desired tracks or CDs to the hard drive for later access. The hard drive can store up to 10GB (164 hours; approximately 2,472 tracks) of music." The AARC wants $2,500 for each digital audio recording device installed in a vehicle, the amount it says should have been paid in royalties.
Businesses

Comcast Confessions 223

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

Airbnb Partners With Cities For Disaster Preparedness 54

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

Hackers Plundered Israeli Defense Firms That Built 'Iron Dome' Missile Defense 172

Posted by Soulskill
from the intercepting-missiles-is-easier-than-learning-not-to-click-on-attachments dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Brian Krebs reports on information from Columbia, Md.-based threat intelligence firm Cyber Engineering Services Inc. that attackers thought to be operating out of China hacked into the corporate networks of three top Israeli defense technology companies. The attackers were seeking technical documents related to Iron Dome, Israel's air defense system. "IAI was initially breached on April 16, 2012 by a series of specially crafted email phishing attacks. ... Once inside the IAI’s network, [the attackers] spent the next four months in 2012 using their access to install various tools and trojan horse programs on systems throughout company’s network and expanding their access to sensitive files, CyberESI said. The actors compromised privileged credentials, dumped password hashes, and gathered system, file, and network information for several systems. The actors also successfully used tools to dump Active Directory data from domain controllers on at least two different domains on the IAI’s network. All told, CyberESI was able to identify and acquire more than 700 files — totaling 762 MB total size — that were exfiltrated from IAI’s network during the compromise. The security firm said most of the data acquired was intellectual property and likely represented only a small portion of the entire data loss by IAI." Most of the stolen material pertained to Arrow III missiles, UAVs, and ballistic rockets.
Transportation

University of Michigan Solar Car Wins Fifth Straight National Title 25

Posted by Soulskill
from the hail-to-the-victors dept.
An anonymous reader writes For the fifth consecutive year, the solar car team from the University of Michigan has won the American Solar Car Challenge. The event is an eight-day, 1,700-mile race with a total of 23 participating teams. The Umich victory comes in spite of a 20-30 minute delay when they had problems with the motor at the very beginning of the race. "They made the time up when team strategists decided to push the car to the speed limit while the sun was shining bright, rather than hold back to conserve energy." Footage of the race and daily updates on the car's performance are available from the team's website, as are the specs of the car itself. Notably, the current iteration of the car weighs only 320 pounds, a full 200 pounds lighter than the previous version.
The Internet

Which Is Better, Adblock Or Adblock Plus? 352

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

seL4 Verified Microkernel Now Open Source 76

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

Tesla and Panasonic Have Reached an Agreement On the Gigafactory 92

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-giga-or-go-home dept.
cartechboy writes: Tesla's been pretty quiet regarding its upcoming gigafactory lately, but that's about to change. It seems the Silicon Valley startup has reached an agreement with Panasonic in regards to the gigafactory, and Panasonic's going to end up having skin in the game. While the electronics giant was originally skeptical of Tesla's battery factory, it now isn't just on board, it's actually going to participate in the construction of this new facility. It's reported that Panasonic will invest 20 billion to 30 billion yen (194 million to $291 million at current exchange rates), and supply fabrication machinery necessary for cell production. That means Pansonic could end up footing the bill for $1 billion of the total $5 billion anticipated investment required for the gigafactory to get off the ground. If things continue to move forward, the Gigafactory should be online by the end of 2017.
Businesses

3-D Printing Comes To Amazon 61

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

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