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Space

Super-Earth Discovered In Star's Habitable Zone 135

Posted by samzenpus
from the big-house dept.
astroengine writes "The family of planets circling a relatively close dwarf star has grown to six, including a potential rocky world at least seven times more massive than Earth that is properly located for liquid water to exist on its surface, a condition believed to be necessary for life. Scientists added three new planets to three discovered in 2008 orbiting an orange star called HD 40307, which is roughly three-quarters as massive as the sun and located about 42 light-years away in the constellation Pictor. Of particular interest is the outermost planet, which is believed to fly around its parent star over 320 days, a distance that places it within HD 40307's so-called "habitable zone.""
Government

EFF Sues to Block New Internet Sex-Offender Law 305

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-more-lists dept.
Bobfrankly1 writes "The EFF sued to block portions of the approved Prop 35 today. Prop 35 requires sex offenders (including indecent exposure and non-internet offenses) to provide all of their online aliases to law enforcement. This would include e-mail addresses, screen and user names, and other identifiers used on the internet. The heart of the matter as the EFF sees it, would be not only the chilling effect it would have on free speech, but also the propensity of these kind of laws to be applied to other (non-sex offending) people as well."
Google

Ask Slashdot: How Would You Convince Someone To Give Up an Old System? 379

Posted by samzenpus
from the times-they-are-a-changing dept.
First time accepted submitter Vanderhoth writes "I'm currently serving as a new member of a board for a not for profit organization. The board currently has a few other members, and a couple of vacant positions. One of the issues I've noticed since joining the board is the method in which they conduct business is very out of date. The member that maintains our web presences (Bob) has developed a system over the last ten years to allow us to store documents, such as agendas and minutes on a website server.

Some of the big issues are:

1.) The system is very disorganized, there are documents from the late 90's that aren't relevant, but have to be sifted through to find more current stuff.
2.) Often documents are not where they should be and are difficult to find.
3.) No one except Bob really knows how the system works.
4.) No one really wants to use the system because of the monster it's become.

My concern is if Bob decided to leave the organization no one would be able to maintain the existing system and we would be scrambling to put something new in place. I feel, for what we want to do, Google Docs would be an excellent platform for collaborating and sharing documents. The other board members, except Bob, have agreed with me, but are worried that bringing the issues with the existing system may cause offense and ultimately cause Bob to leave. Other than being overly vested in a system he developed, Bob is an important part of our board and a very valuable member.

We're already having a difficult time finding members to serve on the board so it's very important that we don't lose any existing board members. I'm hoping that I can convince the Bob to start supporting some Google docs objects on the site and try to wean him off his existing system to something a bit more manageable and collaborative that can be passed on to new members and maintained easily.

I don't want this to turn into old dogs and new tricks. I'm not that far behind Bob in years and can appreciate the difficulty of being told it's time to give in to something more modern. I'm wondering how the situation could be approached tactfully so maybe Bob will see how much easier a new system could be for everyone, including him."
Businesses

Elon Musk Will Usher In the Era of Electric Cars 336

Posted by Soulskill
from the fine-but-can-we-at-least-do-it-on-mars dept.
pigrabbitbear writes "There's a reason why Elon Musk is being called the next Steve Jobs. Like Jobs, he's a visionary, a super successful serial entrepreneur, having made his initial fortune with a company he sold to Compaq before starting Paypal. Like Jobs, he saved his beloved baby Tesla Motors from the brink of oblivion. Like Jobs, [he has] a knack for paradigm-shifting industry disruption. Which means he's also demanding. 'Like Jobs, Elon does not tolerate C or D players,' SpaceX board member and early Tesla investor Steve Jurvetson told BusinessWeek. But while Jobs was slinging multi-colored music players and touchable smartphones, Musk is building rocket ships and electric-powered supercars. It's why his friends describe him as not just Steve Jobs but also John D. Rockefeller and Howard Hughes all wrapped in one. His friend Jon Favreau used Musk as the real-life inspiration for the big screen version of Tony Stark. Elon Musk is a badass."
Politics

The Data Crunchers Who Helped Win The Election 208

Posted by Soulskill
from the at-least-we-didn't-ask-the-bynars dept.
concealment sends in a story at Time that goes behind the scenes with the team of data crunchers that powered many of the Obama campaign's decisions in the lead-up to the election. From the article: "For all the praise Obama's team won in 2008 for its high-tech wizardry, its success masked a huge weakness: too many databases. Back then, volunteers making phone calls through the Obama website were working off lists that differed from the lists used by callers in the campaign office. Get-out-the-vote lists were never reconciled with fundraising lists. It was like the FBI and the CIA before 9/11: the two camps never shared data. ... So over the first 18 months, the campaign started over, creating a single massive system that could merge the information collected from pollsters, fundraisers, field workers and consumer databases as well as social-media and mobile contacts with the main Democratic voter files in the swing states. The new megafile didn't just tell the campaign how to find voters and get their attention; it also allowed the number crunchers to run tests predicting which types of people would be persuaded by certain kinds of appeals. Call lists in field offices, for instance, didn't just list names and numbers; they also ranked names in order of their persuadability, with the campaign's most important priorities first. About 75% of the determining factors were basics like age, sex, race, neighborhood and voting record. Consumer data about voters helped round out the picture. 'We could [predict] people who were going to give online. We could model people who were going to give through mail. We could model volunteers,' said one of the senior advisers about the predictive profiles built by the data. 'In the end, modeling became something way bigger for us in '12 than in '08 because it made our time more efficient.'"
Science

Study: the Universe Has Almost Stopped Making New Stars 228

Posted by Soulskill
from the getting-lazy dept.
SternisheFan sends this quote from Wired: "An international team of astronomers used three telescopes — the UK Infrared Telescope and the Subaru Telescope, both in Hawaii, and Chile's Very Large Telescope — to study trends in star formation, from the earliest days of the universe. Extrapolating their findings has revealed that half of all the stars that have ever existed were created between 9 and 11 billion years ago, with the other half created in the years since. That means the rate at which new stars are born has dropped off massively, to the extent that (if this trend continues) 95 percent of all the stars that this universe will ever see have already been born. Several studies have looked at specific time 'epochs', but the different methods used by each study has restricted the ability to compare their findings and discern a fuller model of how stars have evolved over the course of the entire universe's lifespan."
Medicine

Man Charged £2,000 For Medical Records Stored On Obsolete System 368

Posted by Soulskill
from the boy-that-costs-a-ton dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In Britain, where it is custom and practice to charge around £10 for a copy of your medical results, a patient has discovered that his copy will cost him £2,000 because the records are stored on an obsolete system that the current IT systems cannot access. Can this be good for patient care if no-one can access records dating back from a previous filing system? Perhaps we need to require all current systems to store data in a way that is vendor independent, and DRM-free, too?"
Security

The Web Won't Be Safe Or Secure Until We Break It 180

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'll-get-the-hammer dept.
CowboyRobot writes "Jeremiah Grossman of Whitehat Security has an article at the ACM in which he outlines the current state of browser security, specifically drive-by downloads. 'These attacks are primarily written with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, so they are not identifiable as malware by antivirus software in the classic sense. They take advantage of the flawed way in which the Internet was designed to work.' Grossman's proposed solution is to make the desktop browser more like its mobile cousins. 'By adopting a similar application model on the desktop using custom-configured Web browsers (let's call them DesktopApps), we could address the Internet's inherent security flaws. These DesktopApps could be branded appropriately and designed to launch automatically to Bank of America's or Facebook's Web site, for example, and go no further. Like their mobile application cousins, these DesktopApps would not present an URL bar or anything else making them look like the Web browsers they are on the surface, and of course they would be isolated from one another.'"
Patents

Apple Loses Patent Case For FaceTime Tech, Owes $368 Million 139

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-invented-the-transmission-of-data dept.
beeudoublez writes "Apple was ordered to pay $368 million today to a software company named VirnetX over patents related to Apple's FaceTime technology. Apple engineers testified they didn't pay attention to any patents when building FaceTime. 'The jury, which had sat through the five-day trial, ruled that Apple infringed two patents: one for a method of creating a virtual private network (VPN) between computers, and another for solving DNS security issues. ... It's not the first time VirnetX has won a payout from a major tech firm: the company bagged $105.7m from Microsoft two years ago, and it may not be the last either. VirnetX has a separate case against Apple pending with the International Trade Commission and it has court cases against Cisco, Avaya and Siemens scheduled for trial next year.'" It's not all bad news for Apple today, though — according to Ars, they've won a new patent for a rounded rectangle (D670,286).
Hardware

How CoreSite Survived Sandy 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the lots-of-emergency-flotation-devices dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "When Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, the combination of high winds, rain, and storm surges wreaked havoc on homes and businesses alike. With a data center on the Avenue of the Americas, CoreSite Realty escaped the worst the storm had to offer. But was it coincidence or careful planning? Slashdot sat down for an interview with Billie Haggard, CoreSite's senior vice president of data centers. He's responsible for the design, construction, maintenance, facilities staffing and uptime, reliability and energy efficiency of CoreSite's data centers. He described what it took to weather the worst weather to hit New York City in decades."
Movies

James Bond Film Skyfall Inspired By Stuxnet Virus 187

Posted by Soulskill
from the license-to-kill() dept.
Velcroman1 writes "No smartphones. No exploding pens. No ejector seats. No rocket-powered submarines. 'It's a brave new world,' gadget-maker Q tells James Bond in the new film Skyfall. The new film, released on the 50th anniversary of the storied franchise, presents a gadget-free Bond fighting with both brains and brawn against a high-tech villain with computer prowess Bill Gates would be envious of. What inspired such a villain? 'Stuxnet,' producer Michael G. Wilson said. 'There is a cyberwar that has been going on for some time, and we thought we'd bring that into the fore and let people see how it could be going on.'"
Politics

'World of Warcraft' Candidate For Maine State Senate Wins Election 220

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the vows-to-rule-ruthlessly dept.
Teancum writes "Colleen Lachowicz, candidate for the State Senate District 25 of Maine, won the election yesterday against her opponent Thomas Martin. This race was notable in part because her World of Warcraft character that was mentioned earlier on Slashdot, where the Maine Republican Party turned her game playing into a significant issue. It is also notable that she was able to raise a total of $6,300 in campaign contributions from gamers who came to her defense in her successful campaign. The Maine GOP even tried to block these contributions where Lachowicz was cleared of any wrong doing and the investigation was dropped."
Businesses

Pixar Names Main Studio Building For Steve Jobs 71

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the suddenly-want-to-work-at-pixar dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Jordan Kahn reports that the main building on Pixar's campus has been named in memory of Steve Jobs who actually played a big role in designing the building itself as CEO of Pixar. Pixar's campus design originally separated different employee disciplines into different buildings – one for computer scientists, another for animators, and a third building for everybody else. But according to Jobs' recent biography, the headquarters was to be a place that 'promoted encounters and unplanned collaborations.' Because Jobs was fanatic about unplanned collaborations, he envisioned a campus where these encounters could take place, and his design included a great atrium space that acts as a central hub for the campus. 'Steve's theory worked from day one,' says John Lasseter, Pixar's chief creative officer. 'I've never seen a building that promoted collaboration and creativity as well as this one.'"
AMD

AMD Closes OSRC, Lays Off Several Linux Kernel Developers 94

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the reversal-of-fortunes dept.
From the H reporting on LinuxCon Europe comes news that several Linux kernel developers have been laid off by AMD as part of its workforce reduction. From the article: "OSRC staff primarily worked to develop the Linux support for AMD's server processors, but they also wrote code and extensions for related desktop and notebook CPUs – for example, they looked after the code to support CPU frequency scaling for the PowerNow and Turbo Core technologies. While working on the kernel's IOMMU and KVM support, one of AMD's former employees contributed to the development of the "IOMMU groups" feature that was integrated into Linux 3.6; this feature provides the basis for a new Linux 3.6 technology that allows a host's PCIe devices to be passed through to virtual machines and can also be used with Intel CPUs." Looks like the group was doing interesting research on hypervisors, lockless data structures, and multi-core synchronization primitives among other things. The Open Source Radeon driver developers are not affected by this at least.

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