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Updated: 9 hours 55 min ago

Ask Slashdot: What Tech Skills Do HS Students Need To Know Now?

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 9:43am
heybiff writes: During summer months I deliver brief tech workshops to high school students as part of an enrichment program. Almost all of the students are average students pulled from non-magnet comprehensive high schools throughout our city. Make no mistake — these are not the students who have a love of technology and coding; many were coerced by excited parents or guidance counselors. After doing this for almost 10 years, I have found students have become considerably more comfortable with technology, and confident in their use, especially with smartphones and tablets being ubiquitous. Unfortunately, I also see a lot of basic knowledge and tech skills all but nonexistent. Moreover, students seem unaware that the tech they use daily even has any usefulness for academic activities. So what I put to you fellow Slashdotters is: What do students today realistically have to know to be successful in school? Which tech skills are still important and necessary, and which are gone the way of the typewriter? What misconceptions or outright lies have become so ingrained in young people's use of technology that they need to be addressed? Finally, the program puts laptops in students' hands, to give them a kickstart in being successful; what skills do they need to get the most out of the new hardware they were just given?

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Yubikey Neo Teardown and Durability Review

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 8:34am
An anonymous reader writes: Folks at HexView (disclaimer: I contract for the company) took apart Yubikey Neo and found out that, while the key uses solid hardware to ensure secure identity management, its physical anti-tamper measures and durability could be improved. The tear-down analysis is short, but to the point, and offers some very nice close-ups of the internals. One example of the design shortcomings they've identified: Contrary to Yubico's claims, Yubikey appears to be quite destructable. Do not push on it when you touch the sensor while the key is plugged in to a USB port. The point where it bends the most happens to be the point where USB vias are located and through which NFC antenna loop goes. To make things worse, the injection molding hole right next to the connector makes this area even more susceptible to bending.

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AMD Details High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) DRAM, Pushes Over 100GB/s Per Stack

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 7:52am
MojoKid writes: Recently, a few details of AMD's next-generation Radeon 300-series graphics cards have trickled out. Today, AMD has publicly disclosed new info regarding their High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) technology that will be used on some Radeon 300-series and APU products. Currently, a relatively large number of GDDR5 chips are necessary to offer sufficient capacity and bandwidth for modern GPUs, which means significant PCB real estate is consumed. On-chip integration is not ideal for DRAM because it is not size or cost effective with a logic-optimized GPU or CPU manufacturing process. HBM, however, brings the DRAM as close to possible to the logic die (GPU) as possible. AMD partnered with Hynix and a number of companies to help define the HBM specification and design a new type of memory chip with low power consumption and an ultra-wide bus width, which was eventually adopted by JEDEC 2013. They also develop a DRAM interconnect called an "interposer," along with ASE, Amkor, and UMC. The interposer allows DRAM to be brought into close proximity with the GPU and simplifies communication and clocking. HBM DRAM chips are stacked vertically, and "through-silicon vias" (TSVs) and "bumps" are used to connect one DRAM chip to the next, and then to a logic interface die, and ultimately the interposer. The end result is a single package on which the GPU/SoC and High Bandwidth Memory both reside. 1GB of GDDR5 memory (four 256MB chips), requires roughly 672mm2. Because HBM is vertically stacked, that same 1GB requires only about 35mm2. The bus width on an HBM chip is 1024-bits wide, versus 32-bits on a GDDR5 chip. As a result, the High Bandwidth Memory interface can be clocked much lower but still offer more than 100GB/s for HBM versus 25GB/s with GDDR5. HBM also requires significantly less voltage, which equates to lower power consumption.

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Microwave Comms Betwen Population Centers Could Be Key To Easing Internet Bottlenecks

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 7:03am
itwbennett writes: Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Duke University recently looked at the main causes of Internet latency and what it would take to achieve speed-of-light performance. The first part of the paper, titled Towards a Speed of Light Internet, is devoted to finding out where the slowdowns are coming from. They found that the bulk of the delay comes from the latency of the underlying infrastructure, which works in a multiplicative way by affecting each step in the request. The second part of the paper proposes what turns out to be a relatively cheap and potentially doable solution to bring Internet speeds close to the speed of light for the vast majority of us. The authors propose creating a network that would connect major population centers using microwave networks.

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Trojanized, Info-Stealing PuTTY Version Lurking Online

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 6:22am
One of the best first steps in setting up a Windows machine is to install PuTTY on it, so you have a highly evolved secure shell at your command. An anonymous reader writes, though, with a note of caution if you're installing PuTTY from a source other than the project's own official page. A malicious version with information-stealing abilities has been found in the wild. According to the article: Compiled from source, this malicious version is apparently capable of stealing the credentials needed to connect to those servers. "Data that is sent through SSH connections may be sensitive and is often considered a gold mine for a malicious actor. Attackers can ultimately use this sensitive information to get the highest level of privileges on a computer or server, (known as 'root' access) which can give them complete control over the targeted system," the researchers explained. The Symantec report linked above also shows that (at least for this iteration) the malware version is easy to spot, by hitting the "About" information for the app.

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Battle To Regulate Ridesharing Moves Through States

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 5:35am
New submitter jeffengel writes: The push to regulate services like Uber and Lyft has spread through state legislatures nationwide. At least 15 states have passed ridesharing laws in 2015, joining Colorado, California, and Illinois from last year. More could follow, with bills pending in Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, and others. All this activity has led to new clashes with companies, city leaders, and consumers. Ridesharing bills have stalled or been killed off in Texas, Florida, New Mexico, and Mississippi. Meanwhile, Uber has exited Kansas and is threatening to leave New Jersey and Oregon, while Lyft has ceased operations in Houston, Columbus, and Tacoma. How this plays out could affect the companies' expansion plans, as well as the future of transportation systems worldwide.

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Swedish Court Orders Seizure of Pirate Bay Domains

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 4:56am
The Pirate Bay will probably never be the darling of any government; we've seen various Pirate Bay domains cracked down on, and the arrests of site founders. An anonymous reader writes now with the news reported this morning by TorrentFreak that: the Stockholm District Court has ordered two key domains owned by The Pirate Bay to be seized. While the ruling means that the site will lose its famous ThePirateBay.se domain, don't expect the site to simply disappear. TPB informs TorrentFreak that they have plenty more domains left in store. From the point of view of the down-crackers, It's a hard problem, particularly when it's easy for people to spin up their own instances of the site.

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The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 4:14am
HughPickens.com writes: Daniel McGraw writes that based on their demographic characteristics the Democratic and Republican parties face two very different futures. There's been much written about how millennials are becoming a reliable voting bloc for Democrats, but there's been much less attention paid to one of the biggest get-out-the-vote challenges for the Republican Party heading into the next presidential election: The Republican Party voter is old—and getting older and far more Republicans than Democrats have died since the 2012 elections. By combining presidential election exit polls with mortality rates per age group from the U.S. Census Bureau, McGraw calculated that, of the 61 million who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, about 2.75 million will be dead by the 2016 election. About 2.3 million of President Barack Obama's voters have died too but that leaves a big gap in between, a difference of roughly 453,000 in favor of the Democrats. "I've never seen anyone doing any studies on how many dead people can't vote," laughs William Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in demographic studies. "I've seen studies on how many dead people do vote. The old Daley Administration in Chicago was very good at that." Frey points out that, since Republicans are getting whiter and older, replacing the voters that leave this earth with young ones is essential for them to be competitive in presidential elections. "Millennials (born 1981 to 1997) now are larger in numbers than baby boomers ([born] 1946 to 1964), and how they vote will make the big difference. And the data says that if Republicans focus on economic issues and stay away from social ones like gay marriage, they can make serious inroads with millennials." Exit polling indicates that millennials have split about 65-35 in favor of the Dems in the past two elections. If that split holds true in 2016, Democrats will have picked up a two million vote advantage among first-time voters. These numbers combined with the voter death data puts Republicans at an almost 2.5 million voter disadvantage going into 2016.

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Microsoft To Teachers: Using Pens and Paper Not Fair To Students

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 3:28am
Freshly Exhumed writes: Pens and paper have no place in the modern classroom, according to Lia De Cicco Remu, director of Partners in Learning at Microsoft Canada. "When was the last time you used a piece of chalk to express yourself?" De Cicco Remu, a former teacher, asked the Georgia Straight by phone from Toronto. "Kids don't express themselves with chalk or in cursive. Kids text." Given the Microsoft Study Finds Technology Hurting Attention Spans story posted to Slashdot in the last few days it would seem that Redmond's Marketing and R&D people are at cross-purposes.

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European Internet Users Urged To Protect Themselves Against Facebook Tracking

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 1:31am
An anonymous reader writes: Belgium's Privacy Protection Commission says that Facebook tramples on European privacy laws by tracking people online without their consent and dodges questions from national regulators. They have issued a set of recommendations for both Facebook, website owners and end users. Net-Security reports: "The recommendations are based on the results of an extensive analysis of Facebook's revised policies and terms (rolled out on January 30, 2015) conducted by the inter-university research center EMSOC/SPION, which concluded that the company is acting in violation of European law. According to them Facebook places too much burden on its users to protect their privacy, and then doesn't offer simple tools and settings to do so, and sets up some problematic default settings. They also don't provide adequate information for users to make informed choices."

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UK Criminals Use Drones To Case Burglary Prospects

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 11:01pm
turkeydance writes: Burglars in the UK are sending unmanned drones over houses in order to identify potential targets, police have warned. Suffolk Constabulary confirmed it had received at least one report of drones being used by burglars for surveillance of properties. Paul Ford, secretary of the Police Federation National Detectives Forum, said: “Drones can be noisy and very visible so hopefully criminals risk giving themselves away. If members of the public observe drones being used in areas which make them suspicious they should contact police using the 101 non-emergency number to report it."

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US Navy Abandons Cloud and Data Center Plans In Favor of New Strategy

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 8:31pm
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Navy is not pleased with the progress it has made on data center consolidation and plans to change strategies. "Later this year, we will make an organizational change to our approach to data center consolidation. The Data Center and Application Optimization (DCAO) program office will move from under Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) headquarters to under Program Executive Office-Enterprise Information Systems (PEO-EIS) as a separate entity or program office," said John Zangardi, the Navy's deputy assistant secretary for command, control, computers, intelligence, information operations and space and acting chief information officer. The secretary added that over the past three years, the U.S. Department of the Navy had consolidated 290 IT systems and applications at 45 national sites.

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Robotic Space Plane Launches In Mystery Mission This Week

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 6:01pm
mpicpp writes: The United States Air Force's robotic X-37B space plane will carry a NASA experiment into orbit when it launches on its next mystery mission Wednesday. The liftoff will begin the reusable space plane's fourth mission, which is known as OTV-4 (short for Orbital Test Vehicle-4). Since it's classified it's not entirely clear what the space plane will be doing once it leaves Earth Wednesday. This has led to some speculation that the vehicle might be a weapon, but officials have repeatedly refuted that notion, saying X-37B flights simply test a variety of new technologies. The X-37B looks like a miniature version of NASA's now-retired space shuttle. The robotic, solar-powered space plane is about 29 feet long by 9.5 feet tall (8.8 by 2.9 meters), with a wingspan of 15 feet (4.6 meters) and a payload bay the size of a pickup-truck bed. Like the space shuttle, the X-37B launches vertically and lands horizontally, on a runway.

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Forecasting the Next Pandemic

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 4:25pm
sciencehabit writes: A new study led by Barbara A. Han, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, suggests a computer model that incorporates machine learning can pinpoint, with 90% accuracy, rodent species that are known to harbor pathogens that can spread to humans. Sciencemag reports on the study: "Han and her team first used their program to identify lifestyle patterns common to rodents harboring diseases like black plague, rabies, and hanta virus and found that their model had an accuracy rate of 90%. After the machine had 'learned' the telltale signs, the researchers searched for new rodents that fit the profile but were not previously thought to be carriers. So far, the model has identified more than 150 new animal species that could harbor zoonotic diseases, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The computer program also predicted 58 new infections in rodents that were already known to carry one zoonotic disease."

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Four Quasars Found Clustered Together Defy Current Cosmological Expectations

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 3:42pm
StartsWithABang writes: Get a supermassive black hole feeding on matter, particularly on large amounts of cool, dense gas, and you're likely to get a quasar: a luminous, active galaxy emitting radiation from the radio all the way up through the X-ray. Our best understanding and observations indicate that these objects should be rare, transient, and isolated; no more than two have ever been found close together before. Until this discovery, that is, where we just found four within a million light years of one another, posing a problem for our current theories of structure formation in the Universe.

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Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Responds In Nepal

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 2:59pm
An anonymous reader writes with news about the efforts of the The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team to help in the aftermath of the earthquake in Nepal. The team asks those living in the affected areas to help out by reporting which buildings are damaged, which are still standing, and where fissures and other quake damage is located. Opensource.com has a profile of their efforts which reads: Since the devastating earthquake in Nepal, there have been responses from all over the world from relief agencies, governments, non-profits, and ordinary citizens. One interesting effort has been from the crowdsourced mapping community, especially on OpenStreetMap.org, a free and open web map of the world that anyone can edit (think the Wikipedia of maps.) The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), an NGO that works to train, coordinate, and organize mapping on OpenStreetMap for humanitarian, disaster response, and economic development, has mobilized volunteers from around the world to help map since the Haiti earthquake in 2010.

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Using Satellites To Monitor Bridge Safety

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 2:15pm
__roo writes: In an effort to detect crumbling infrastructure before it causes damage and costs lives, the European Space Agency is working with the UK's University of Nottingham to monitor the movements of large structures as they happen using satellite navigation sensors. The team uses highly sensitive satnav receivers that transmit real-time data to detect movements as small as 1 cm combined with historical Earth observation satellite data. By placing sensors at key locations on the Forth Road Bridge in Scotland, they detected stressed structural members and unexpected deformations.

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Chris Roberts Is the Least Important Part of the Airplane Hacking Story

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 1:32pm
chicksdaddy writes: Now that the news media is in full freak-out mode about whether or not security researcher Chris Roberts did or did not hack into the engine of a plane, in flight and cause it to "fly sideways," security experts say its time to take a step back from the crazy and ask what is the real import of the plane hacking. The answer: definitely not Chris Roberts. The real story that media outlets should be chasing isn't what Roberts did or didn't do on board a United flight in April, but whether there is any truth to longtime assurances from airplane makers like Boeing and Airbus that critical avionics systems aboard their aircraft are unreachable from systems accessible to passengers, the Christian Science Monitor writes. And, on that issue, Roberts' statements and the FBI's actions raise as many questions as they answer. For one: why is the FBI suddenly focused on years-old research that has long been part of the public record. "This has been a known issue for four or five years, where a bunch of us have been stood up and pounding our chest and saying, 'This has to be fixed,' " Roberts noted. "Is there a credible threat? Is something happening? If so, they're not going to tell us," he said. Roberts isn't the only one confused by the series of events surrounding his detention in April and the revelations about his interviews with federal agents. "I would like to see a transcript (of the interviews)," said one former federal computer crimes prosecutor, speaking on condition of anonymity. "If he did what he said he did, why is he not in jail? And if he didn't do it, why is the FBI saying he did?"

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Silk Road's Leader Paid a Doctor To Help Keep Customers Safe

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 12:48pm
An anonymous reader writes: Two years after the fall of Silk Road, new facts about the saga are still emerging all the time. The latest revelation is that Dread Pirate Roberts, the leader of Silk Road, paid a doctor $500 per week to offer public and private counseling to customers of the site. DoctorX, also known as Dr. Fernando Caudevilla, became famous for his free work on the site. The fact that he was eventually paid a salary is being used by lawyers for Ross Ulbricht to argue that Silk Road emphasized harm reduction and was, on the whole, a huge improvement in safety for drug users.

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Court of Appeals Says Samsung's Legal Payments To Apple Should Be Reduced

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 12:04pm
Mark Wilson writes: Patent lawsuits in the world of technology are nothing new, and the case between Apple and Samsung resulted in one of the largest fines ever being handed down. Samsung was order to pay $930 million in damages after a court found that the company had violated Apple patents with its smartphone and tablet designs. Today the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned part of the original ruling, saying that the jury was wrong to say that Samsung infringed on Apple's trade dress intellectual property. The exact details of what this will mean are yet to come out, but it should lead to a fairly hefty reduction in Samsung's legal costs.

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