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Updated: 17 hours 12 min ago

The Performance of Ubuntu Linux Over the Past 10 Years

Fri, 02/05/2016 - 11:46am
An anonymous reader writes: Tests were carried out at Phoronix of all Ubuntu Long-Term Support releases from the 6.06 "Dapper Drake" release to 16.04 "Xenial Xerus," looking at the long-term performance of (Ubuntu) Linux using a dual-socket AMD Opteron server. Their benchmarks of Ubuntu's LTS releases over 10 years found that the Radeon graphics performance improved substantially, the disk performance was similar while taking into account the switch from EXT3 to EXT4, and that the CPU performance had overall improved for many workloads thanks to the continued evolution of the GCC compiler.

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Intel Says Chips To Become Slower But More Energy Efficient

Fri, 02/05/2016 - 11:06am
An anonymous reader writes: William Holt, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Intel's Technology and Manufacturing Group, has said at a conference that chips will become slower after industry re-tools for new technologies such as spintronics and tunneling transistors. "The best pure technology improvements we can make will bring improvements in power consumption but will reduce speed." If true, it's not just the end of Moore's Law, but a rolling back of the progress it made over the last fifty years.

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Amazon's Thin Helvetica Syndrome: Font Anorexia vs. Kindle Readability

Fri, 02/05/2016 - 10:26am
David Rothman writes: The Thin Helvetica Syndrome arises from the latest Kindle upgrade and has made e-books less readable for some. In the past, e-book-lovers who needed more perceived-contrast between text and background could find at least partial relief in Helvetica because the font was heavy by Kindle standards. But now some users complain that the 5.7.2 upgrade actually made Helvetica thinner. Of course, the real cure would be an all-text bold option for people who need it, or even a way to adjust font weight, a feature of Kobo devices. But Amazon stubbornly keeps ignoring user pleas even though the cost of adding either feature would be minimal. Isn't this supposed to be a customer-centric company?

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CFQ In Linux Gets BFQ Characteristics

Fri, 02/05/2016 - 9:47am
jones_supa writes: Paolo Valente from University of Modena has submitted a Linux kernel patchset which replaces CFQ (Completely Fair Queueing) I/O scheduler with the last version of BFQ (Budget Fair Queuing, a proportional-share scheduler). This patchset first brings CFQ back to its state at the time when BFQ was forked from CFQ. Paolo explains: "Basically, this reduces CFQ to its engine, by removing every heuristic and improvement that has nothing to do with any heuristic or improvement in BFQ, and every heuristic and improvement whose goal is achieved in a different way in BFQ. Then, the second part of the patchset starts by replacing CFQ's engine with BFQ's engine, and goes on by adding current BFQ improvements and extra heuristics." He provides a link to the thread in which it is agreed on this idea, and a direct link to the e-mail describing the steps.

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A Bot That Drives Robocallers Insane

Fri, 02/05/2016 - 9:06am
Trailrunner7 writes: Robocalls are among the more annoying modern inventions, and consumers and businesses have tried just about every strategy for defeating them over the years, with little success. But one man has come up with a bot of his own that sends robocallers into a maddening hall of mirrors designed to frustrate them into surrender. The bot is called the Jolly Roger Telephone Company, and it's the work of Roger Anderson, a veteran of the phone industry himself who had grown tired of the repeated harassment from telemarketers and robocallers. Anderson started out by building a system that sat in front of his home landlines and would tell human callers to press a key to ring through to his actual phone line; robocallers were routed directly to an answering system. He would then white-list the numbers of humans who got through. Sometimes the Jolly Roger bot will press buttons to be transferred to a human agent and other times it will just talk back if a human is on the other end of the line to begin with.

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Wendelstein 7-X Fusion Reactor Produces Its First Flash of Hydrogen Plasma

Fri, 02/05/2016 - 8:45am
Zothecula writes: Experimentation with Germany's newest fusion reactor is beginning to heat up, to temperatures of around 80 million degrees Celsius, to be precise. Having fired up the Wendelstein 7-X to produce helium plasma late last year, researchers have built on their early success to generate its first hydrogen plasma, an event they say begins the true scientific operation of the world's largest fusion stellarator.

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Python 3 Is Coming To Scrapy

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 4:40pm
New submitter Valdir Stumm Junior writes: Scrapy with beta Python 3 support is finally here! Released through Scrapy 1.1.0rc1, this is the result of several months of hard work on the part of the Scrapy community and Scrapinghub engineers. This is a huge milestone for all you Scrapy users (and those who haven't used Scrapy due to the lack of Python 3). Scrapy veterans and new adopters will soon be able to move their entire stack to Python 3 once the release becomes stable. Keep in mind that since this a release candidate, it is not ready to be used in production.

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Samsung's AdBlock Fast Removed From the Play Store

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 3:59pm
New submitter Alexander Maxham writes with the news reported at Android Headlines that Samsung's ad-blocking Android app called AdBlock Fast "was apparently ousted from the Play Store for violating section 4.4 of the Developer Distribution Agreement, stating that an app cannot disrupt or interfere with devices, networks or other parties' apps and services. (Also noted by Engadget.)

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DNA Makes Lifeless Materials Shapeshift

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 3:40pm
sciencehabit writes: Researchers have engineered tiny gold particles that can assemble into a variety of crystalline structures simply by adding a bit of DNA to the solution that surrounds them. Down the road, such reprogrammable particles could be used to make materials that reshape themselves in response to light, or to create novel catalysts that reshape themselves as reactions proceed.

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Researchers Uncover the Genetic Roots Behind Rare Vibration Allergy

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 3:18pm
derekmead writes: A team of National Health Institute researchers has for the first time uncovered the genetic roots of one of the strangest allergies: vibrations. The vibration allergy, which is just as it sounds, may be quite rare, but understanding it more completely may yield important insights into the fundamental malfunctioning of immune cells in the presence of allergens. The group's findings are published in the New England Journal of Medicine. In addition to being uncommon, the vibration allergy is not very dangerous. In most cases, the allergic response is limited to hives—the pale, prickly rash most often associated with allergic and autoimmune reactions. Other less-common symptoms include headaches, blurry vision, fatigue, and flushing. The triggering vibrations are everyday things: jogging, jackhammering, riding a motorcycle, towel drying. Symptoms appear within a few minutes of exposure and are gone usually within an hour.

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Firefox 44 Deletes Fine-Grained Cookie Management

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 2:39pm
ewhac writes: Among its other desirable features, Firefox included a feature allowing very fine-grained cookie management. When enabled, every time a Web site asked to set a cookie, Firefox would raise a dialog containing information about the cookie requested, which you could then approve or deny. An "exception" list also allowed you to mark selected domains as "Always allow" or "Always deny", so that the dialog would not appear for frequently-visited sites. It was an excellent way to maintain close, custom control over which sites could set cookies, and which specific cookies they could set. It also helped easily identify poorly-coded sites that unnecessarily requested cookies for every single asset, or which would hit the browser with a "cookie storm" — hundreds of concurrent cookie requests. Mozilla quietly deleted this feature from Firefox 44, with no functional equivalent put in its place. Further, users who had enabled the "Ask before accept" feature have had that preference silently changed to, "Accept normally." The proffered excuse for the removal was that the feature was unmaintained, and that its users were, "probably crashing multiple times a day as a result" (although no evidence was presented to support this assertion). Mozilla's apparent position is that users wishing fine-grained cookie control should be using a third-party add-on instead, and that an "Ask before accept" option was, "not really nice to use on today's Web."

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Don't Hate Perky Morning People: It Might Be Their DNA's Fault.

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 2:22pm
New submitter Striek writes: Aggregated genome data from 23andme.com was analyzed and published in Nature magazine, and now further evidence has been added to the belief that being a morning person or a night owl is wired in our DNA. It's not the first time such research has been published, either. So those of us who work late into the night and prefer to rise at noon, much to the chagrin of our partners, can point to our DNA as the reason, not our lazy habits.

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Marco Rubio Wants To Permanently Extend NSA Mass Surveillance

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 2:00pm
SonicSpike writes: Marco Rubio wants Congress to permanently extend the authorities governing several of the National Security Agency's controversial spying programs, including its mass surveillance of domestic phone records. The Florida Republican and 2016 presidential hopeful penned an op-ed on Tuesday condemning President Obama's counterterrorism policies and warning that the U.S. has not learned the "fundamental lessons of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001." Rubio called on Congress to permanently reauthorize core provisions of the post-9/11 USA Patriot Act, which are due to sunset on June 1 of this year and provide the intelligence community with much of its surveillance power. "This year, a new Republican majority in both houses of Congress will have to extend current authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and I urge my colleagues to consider a permanent extension of the counterterrorism tools our intelligence community relies on to keep the American people safe," Rubio wrote in a Fox News op-ed.

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CoreOS Launches Rkt 1.0

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 1:18pm
darthcamaro writes: Docker is about to get some real competition in the container runtime space, thanks to the lofficial aunch of rkt 1.0. CoreOS started building rkt in 2014 and after more than a year of security, performance and feature improvement are now ready to declare it 'production-ready.' While rkt is a docker runtime rival, docker apps will run in rkt, giving using a new runtime choice: "rkt will remain compatible with the Docker-specific image format, as well as its own native App Container Image (ACI). That means developers can build containers with Docker and run those containers with rkt. In addition, CoreOS will support the growing ecosystem of tools based around the ACI format."

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All 12 Member Countries Sign Off On the TPP

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 12:34pm
Dangerous_Minds writes: News is surfacing that the TPP has officially been signed by all 12 member countries. This marks the beginning of the final step towards ratification. Freezenet has a quick rundown of what copyright provisions are contained in the agreement, including traffic shaping, site blocking, enforcement of copyright when infringement is "imminent," and a government mandate for ISPs to install backdoors for the purpose of tracking copyright infringement on the Internet.

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Google Targets Fake "Download" and "Play" Buttons

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 11:52am
AmiMoJo writes: Google says it will go to war against the fake 'download' and 'play' buttons that attempt to deceive users on file-sharing and other popular sites. According to a new announcement from the company titled 'No More Deceptive Download Buttons', Google says it will expand its eight-year-old Safe Browsing initiative to target some of the problems highlighted above. 'You may have encountered social engineering in a deceptive download button, or an image ad that falsely claims your system is out of date. Today, we're expanding Safe Browsing protection to protect you from such deceptive embedded content, like social engineering ads,' the company says.

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Facebook Celebrates Turning 12 Today

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 11:10am
12 years ago today, Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook, and since then the site has grown at a nearly unbelievable pace. Now, with about 1.6 billion monthly active users, Facebook makes an average of $3.73 in revenue per user worldwide. And as the company continues to grow, engagement is only getting higher. According to an analysis by CNBC, users spend an aggregate of 10.5 billion minutes per day on the social media platform -- that's around $3.5 trillion in squandered productivity, by their estimate. Facebook is celebrating its birthday by marking today "Friends Day" and adding personalized videos to each user's account showing their best moments with friends, or at least what Facebook's algorithms think are the best moments. (Users can opt to share the video or keep it private.) The company's also announced an updated degrees-of-separation metric to make it easier to connect with other users.

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Interviews: Ask 'Ubuntu Unleashed' Author Matthew Helmke

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 10:27am
Matthew Helmke (personal blog) is the author of the newly published 11th edition of Ubuntu Unleashed (published by Pearson); this updated edition of the book will cover the OS through Ubuntu's 15.10 and (forthcoming) 16.04 releases. Helmke is also a former Ubuntu Forum administrator, a musician, an entrepreneur, and a long-time Slashdot reader who now leads a "nice quiet life in Iowa." Ask Matthew about what it's like to be a Linux book author and community leader, and his thoughts on Canonical, the goods and bads of modern Linux distributions, and the future of Ubuntu -- especially relevant with the upcoming release of the first Ubuntu-based tablet. (Remember, Matthew isn't responsible for gripes you may have with either Ubuntu or Canonical, but he might have some good solutions to particular problems.) Ask as many questions as you'd like; we just ask that you keep them on-topic, and please stick to one question per post.

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Harnessing Artificial Intelligence To Build an Army of Virtual Analysts

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 9:48am
An anonymous reader writes: PatternEx, a startup that gathered a team of AI researcher from MIT CSAIL as well as security and distributed systems experts, is poised to shake up things in the user and entity behavior analytics market. Their goal was to make a system capable of mimicking the knowledge and intuition of human security analysts so that attacks can be detected in real time. The platform can go through millions of events per day and can make an increasingly better evaluation of whether they are anomalous, malicious or benign.

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Push To Hack: Reverse Engineering an IP Camera

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 9:27am
New submitter tetraverse writes: For our most recent IoT adventure, we've examined an outdoor cloud security camera [the Motorola Focus 73] which like many devices of its generation a) has an associated mobile app b) is quick to setup and c) presents new security threats to your network. From the article: This blog describes in detail how we were able to exploit the camera without access to the local network, steal secrets including the home networkâ(TM)s Wi-Fi password, obtain full control of the PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) controls and redirect the video feed and movement alerts to our own server; effectively watching the watchers.

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