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  • When Customer Dissatisfaction Is a Tech Business Model

    jammag writes: A new trend has emerged where tech companies have realized that abusing users pays big. Examples include the highly publicized Comcast harassing service call, Facebook "experiments," Twitter timeline tinkering, rude Korean telecoms — tech is an area where the term "customer service" has an Orwellian slant. Isn't it time customer starting fleeing abusive tech outfits?

    24 comments | 16 minutes ago

  • NSA Agents Leak Tor Bugs To Developers

    An anonymous reader writes: We've known for a while that NSA specifically targets Tor, because they want to disrupt one of the last remaining communication methods they aren't able to tap or demand access to. However, not everybody at the NSA is on board with this strategy. Tor developer Andrew Lewman says even as flaws in Tor are rooted out by the NSA and British counterpart GCHQ, other agents from the two organizations leak those flaws directly to the developers, so they can be fixed quickly. He said, "You have to think about the type of people who would be able to do this and have the expertise and time to read Tor source code from scratch for hours, for weeks, for months, and find and elucidate these super-subtle bugs or other things that they probably don't get to see in most commercial software." Lewman estimates the Tor Project receives these reports on a monthly basis. He also spoke about how a growing amount of users will affect Tor. He suggests a massive company like Google or Facebook will eventually have to take up the task of making Tor scale up to millions of users.

    92 comments | 6 hours ago

  • Facebook Tests "Satire" Tag To Avoid Confusion On News Feed

    An anonymous reader writes "In an attempt to keep you from having to explain to your crazy relatives that despite what they read, Vice President Biden *didn't* get a grow light delivered to the White House under a fake name, Facebook is testing a "satire" tag on news feeds. A Facebook representative issued the following statement to Ars Technica: "We are running a small test which shows the text '[Satire]' in front of links to satirical articles in the related articles unit in News Feed. This is because we received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others in these units."

    131 comments | 4 days ago

  • Reading, Writing, 'Rithmetic, and Blockly

    theodp writes As teachers excitedly tweet about completing their summer CS Professional Development at Google and Microsoft, and kids get ready to go back to school, Code.org is inviting educators to check out their K-5 Computer Science Curriculum (beta), which is slated to launch in September (more course details). The content, Code.org notes, is a blend of online activities ("engineers from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter helped create this tutorial," footnotes explain) and 'unplugged' activities, lessons in which students can learn computing concepts with or without a computer. It's unclear if he's reviewed the material himself, but Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is grateful for the CS effort ("Thank you for teaching our students these critical skills").

    18 comments | 5 days ago

  • NVIDIAs 64-bit Tegra K1: The Ghost of Transmeta Rides Again, Out of Order

    MojoKid (1002251) writes Ever since Nvidia unveiled its 64-bit Project Denver CPU at CES last year, there's been discussion over what the core might be and what kind of performance it would offer. Visibly, the chip is huge, more than 2x the size of the Cortex-A15 that powers the 32-bit version of Tegra K1. Now we know a bit more about the core, and it's like nothing you'd expect. It is, however, somewhat similar to the designs we've seen in the past from the vanished CPU manufacturer Transmeta. When it designed Project Denver, Nvidia chose to step away from the out-of-order execution engine that typifies virtually all high-end ARM and x86 processors. In an OoOE design, the CPU itself is responsible for deciding which code should be executed at any given cycle. OoOE chips tend to be much faster than their in-order counterparts, but the additional silicon burns power and takes up die area. What Nvidia has developed is an in-order architecture that relies on a dynamic optimization program (running on one of the two CPUs) to calculate and optimize the most efficient way to execute code. This data is then stored inside a special 128MB buffer of main memory. The advantage of decoding and storing the most optimized execution method is that the chip doesn't have to decode the data again; it can simply grab that information from memory. Furthermore, this kind of approach may pay dividends on tablets, where users tend to use a small subset of applications. Once Denver sees you run Facebook or Candy Crush a few times, it's got the code optimized and waiting. There's no need to keep decoding it for execution over and over.

    125 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Is "Scorpion" Really a Genius?

    An anonymous reader writes CBS's upcoming hacker show Scorpion is pitched as based on the real life of Irish 'eccentric genius' Walter O'Brien a.k.a. "Scorpion". Some of the claims made for the real Scorpion are extraordinary. A child prodigy with an IQ of 197, hacking Nasa at age 13, [supplying] Ireland with more Personal Computers than DELL and Gateway together. Searching online I wasn't able to find anything which, for me, clearly backed up any of these (or other) claims. For example, rather than being the sixth fastest programmer in the world in 1993, his team ranked 90th out of 250 teams. Curiously, his degree grade was an ok, but hardly stellar B+ (II-I). Does anyone know anything to back up the genius claims being made about Scorpion?

    391 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Judge Rejects $324.5 Million Settlement For Tech Workers, Argues For More

    An anonymous reader writes with this news from Reuters: A U.S. district judge on Friday ruled that the $324.5 million settlement negotiated by Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe with the tech workers who brought an antitrust lawsuit against them was too low. The judge cited the settlement amount of a similar lawsuit brought against Disney and Intuit last year which resulted in plaintiffs obtaining proportionally more for lost wages. And yet, according to the judge, the current plaintiffs have "much more leverage". She cited evidence clearly showing Apple's Steve Jobs strong-arming the other companies in the suit into agreeing to a no-employee-poaching agreement, and in one instance, of Google failing to rope in Facebook into a similar agreement which resulted in a 10% increase of all Google employee salaries. In other words, clear evidence that the no-poaching agreement effectively suppressed the salaries of these companies' tech workers. Another hearing is scheduled for September 10.

    268 comments | about two weeks ago

  • How Facebook Is Saving Power By 10-15% Through Better Load Balancing

    An anonymous reader writes Facebook today revealed details about Autoscale, a system for power-efficient load balancing that has been rolled out to production clusters in its data centers. The company says it has "demonstrated significant energy savings." For those who don't know, load balancing refers to distributing workloads across multiple computing resources, in this case servers. The goal is to optimize resource use, which can mean different things depending on the task at hand.

    54 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Facebook Acquires Server-Focused Security Startup

    wiredmikey writes In a move to bolster the security of its massive global server network, Facebook announced on Thursday it was acquiring PrivateCore, a Palo Alto, California-based cybersecurity startup. PrivateCore describes that its vCage software transparently secures data in use with full memory encryption for any application, any data, anywhere on standard x86 servers. "I'm really excited that Facebook has entered into an agreement to acquire PrivateCore," Facebook security chief Joe Sullivan wrote in a post to his own Facebook page. "I believe that PrivateCore's technology and expertise will help support Facebook's mission to help make the world more open and connected, in a secure and trusted way," Sullivan said. "Over time, we plan to deploy PrivateCore's technology directly into the Facebook server stack."

    18 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Transatomic Power Receives Seed Funding From Founders Fund Science

    pmaccabe writes "The company aiming to make a Waste Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor(WAMSR) is now getting $2 million from the venture capital firm Founders Fund. From the article: "The Founders Fund is the firm behind some of the more successful Internet startups out there including Facebook, Yammer and Spotify, but also some science-focused companies such as Climate Corporation, Space-X and satellite startup Planet Labs. The fund, which was created by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and his partners, promotes this manifesto: 'we wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.'”

    143 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Facebook Seeks Devs To Make Linux Network Stack As Good As FreeBSD's

    An anonymous reader writes Facebook posted a career application which, in their own words is 'seeking a Linux Kernel Software Engineer to join our Kernel team, with a primary focus on the networking subsystem. Our goal over the next few years is for the Linux kernel network stack to rival or exceed that of FreeBSD.' Two interesting bullet points listing "responsibilities": Improve IPv6 support in the kernel, and eliminate perf and stability issues. FB is one of the worlds largest IPv6 deployments; Investigate and participate in emerging protocols (MPTCP, QUIC, etc) discussions,implementation, experimentation, tooling, etc.

    195 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Inside the Facebook Algorithm Most Users Don't Even Know Exists

    First time accepted submitter catparty (3600549) writes An examination of what we can know about Facebook's new machine learning News Feed algorithm. From the article: "Facebook's current News Feed algorithm might be smarter, but some of its core considerations don't stray too far from the groundwork laid by EdgeRank, though thanks to machine learning, Facebook's current algorithm has a better ear for 'signals from you.' Facebook confirmed to us that the new News Feed ranking algorithm does indeed take 100,000 weighted variables into account to determine what we see. These factors help Facebook display an average 300 posts culled from roughly 1,500 possible posts per day, per user."

    130 comments | about two weeks ago

  • How Facebook Sold You Krill Oil

    An anonymous reader writes with this look at how Facebook tries to make and sell "thumbstopper" ads compelling enough to get people to stop scrolling through their news feeds. With its trove of knowledge about the likes, histories and social connections of its 1.3 billion users worldwide, Facebook executives argue, it can help advertisers reach exactly the right audience and measure the impact of their ads — while also, like TV, conveying a broad brand message. Facebook, which made $1.5 billion in profit on $7.9 billion in revenue last year, sees particular value in promoting its TV-like qualities, given that advertisers spend $200 billion a year on that medium. "We want to hold ourselves accountable for delivering results," said Carolyn Everson, Facebook's vice president for global marketing solutions, in a recent interview. "Not smoke and mirrors, maybe it works, maybe it doesn't."

    114 comments | about three weeks ago

  • If You're Always Working, You're Never Working Well

    An anonymous reader writes: Hard work is almost an axiom in the U.S. — office culture continually rewards people who are at their desks early and stay late, regardless of actual performance. Over the past decade, it's encroached even further into workers' private lives with the advent of smartphones. An article at the Harvard Business Review takes issue with the idea that more work is always better: "When we accept this new and permanent ambient workload — checking business news in bed or responding to coworkers' emails during breakfast — we may believe that we are dedicated, tireless workers. But, actually, we're mostly just getting the small, easy things done. Being busy does not equate to being effective. ... And let's not forget about ambient play, which often distracts us from accomplishing our most important tasks. Facebook and Twitter report that their sites are most active during office hours. After all, the employee who's required to respond to her boss on Sunday morning will think nothing of responding to friends on Wednesday afternoon. And research shows (PDF) that these digital derailments are costly: it's not only the minutes lost responding to a tweet but also the time and energy required to 'reenter' the original task." How do we shift business culture to reward effective work more than the appearance of work?

    135 comments | about three weeks ago

  • PHP Finally Getting a Formal Specification

    itwbennett (1594911) writes "Despite becoming one of the most widely used programming languages on the Web, PHP didn't have a formal specification — until now. Facebook engineer and PHP core contributor Sara Golemon announced the initiative at OSCON earlier this month, and an initial draft of the specification was posted Wednesday on GitHub."

    180 comments | about three weeks ago

  • "BadUSB" Exploit Makes Devices Turn "Evil"

    An anonymous reader writes with a snippet from Ars Technica that should make you (even more) skeptical about plugging in random USB drives, or allowing persons unknown physical access to your computer's USB ports: When creators of the state-sponsored Stuxnet worm used a USB stick to infect air-gapped computers inside Iran's heavily fortified Natanz nuclear facility, trust in the ubiquitous storage medium suffered a devastating blow. Now, white-hat hackers have devised a feat even more seminal—an exploit that transforms keyboards, Web cams, and other types of USB-connected devices into highly programmable attack platforms that can't be detected by today's defenses. Dubbed BadUSB, the hack reprograms embedded firmware to give USB devices new, covert capabilities. In a demonstration scheduled at next week's Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, a USB drive, for instance, will take on the ability to act as a keyboard that surreptitiously types malicious commands into attached computers. A different drive will similarly be reprogrammed to act as a network card that causes connected computers to connect to malicious sites impersonating Google, Facebook or other trusted destinations. The presenters will demonstrate similar hacks that work against Android phones when attached to targeted computers. They say their technique will work on Web cams, keyboards, and most other types of USB-enabled devices.

    205 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Jesse Jackson: Tech Diversity Is Next Civil Rights Step

    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.

    514 comments | about three weeks ago

  • A Look At the Firepick Delta Circuit Board Assembler (Video)

    From the Firepick website: 'We are developing a really cool robotic machine that is capable of assembling electronic circuit boards (it also 3D prints, and does some other stuff!). It uses a vacuum nozzle to pick really tiny resistors and computer chips up, and place them down very carefully on a printed circuit board.' There are lots of companies here and in China that will happily place and solder components on your printed circuit board, but hardly any that will do a one-off prototype or a small quantity. And the components have gotten small enough that this is really a job for a robot (or at least a Waldo), not human fingers. || There are obviously other devices on the market that do this, but Firepick Delta creator Neil Jansen says they are far too expensive for small companies, let alone individual makers.

    The Firepick Delta Hackaday page talks about a $300 price for this machine. That may be too optimistic, but even if it ends up costing two or three times that amount, that's still a huge step forward for small-time inventors and custom manufacturers who need to populate just a few circuit boards, not thousands. They have a Haxlr8r pitch video, and have been noticed by TechCrunch, 3DPrintBoard.com, and Adafruit, just to name a few. Kickstarter? Not yet. Maybe next year. Open source? Totally, complete with GitHub repository. And they were at OSCON 2014, which is where Timothy found them. (Alternate Video Link)

    43 comments | about three weeks ago

  • OKCupid Experiments on Users Too

    With recent news that Facebook altered users' feeds as part of a psychology experiment, OKCupid has jumped in and noted that they too have altered their algorithms and experimented with their users (some unintentional) and "if you use the Internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work." Findings include that removing pictures from profiles resulted in deeper conversations, but as soon as the pictures returned appearance took over; personality ratings are highly correlated with appearance ratings (profiles with attractive pictures and no other information still scored as having a great personality); and that suggesting a bad match is a good match causes people to converse nearly as much as ideal matches would.

    161 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Lots Of People Really Want Slideout-Keyboard Phones: Where Are They?

    Bennett Haselton writes: I can't stand switching from a slideout-keyboard phone to a touchscreen phone, and my own informal online survey found a slight majority of people who prefer slideout keyboards even more than I do. Why will no carrier make them available, at any price, except occasionally as the crummiest low-end phones in the store? Bennett's been asking around, of store managers and users, and arrives at even more perplexing questions. Read on, below.

    544 comments | about three weeks ago

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