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Programming

Ask Slashdot: Have You Experienced Fear Driven Development? 1

Posted by Soulskill
from the sunk-cost-fallacy-is-a-thing dept.
nerdyalien writes: A few years back, I worked for a large-scale web development project in southeast Asia. Despite formally adopting Agile/Scrum, development was driven based on fear imposed by managers. Scott Hanselman defines Fear-Driven-Development as having three parts. 1) Organizational fear has "worried about making mistakes, breaking the build, or causing bugs that the organization increases focus on making paper, creating excessive process, and effectively standing in the way of writing code." 2) There's also fear of changing code, which comes from a complex, poorly-understood, or unmaintainable codebase. 3) The most common one is fear of losing your job, which can lead to developers checking in barely-functioning code and managers committing to a death march rather than admit failure. My project ran four times its initial estimation, and included horrendous 18-hour/day, 6 day/week crunches with pizza dinners. Is FDD here to stay?
Programming

College Students: Want To Earn More? Take a COBOL Class 86

Posted by Soulskill
from the lords-of-COBOL-hear-our-prayers dept.
jfruh writes: With a lot of debate over the value of a college education, here's a data point students can use: at one Texas college, students who took an elective COBOL class earned on average $10,000 more a year upon graduation than classmates who hadn't. COBOL, dropped from many curricula years ago as an outdated language, is tenaciously holding on in the industry, as many universities are belatedly starting to realize.
Medicine

Farmers Carry Multidrug-Resistant Staph For Weeks Into Local Communities 40

Posted by Soulskill
from the part-of-the-farmhand-insurrection dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Fresh research out of the UNC Gillings and JHU Bloomberg schools of public health shows industrial farm workers are carrying livestock-associated, multidrug-resistant staph into local communities for weeks at a time. "Among the [22 people tested], 10 workers carried antibiotic-resistant strains of the bacteria in their noses for up to four days. Another six workers were intermittent carriers of the bacteria. The 10 workers found to carry the bacteria persistently had strains associated with livestock that were resistant to multiple drugs, and one also carried MRSA. Three more of the workers tested positive for strains of S. aureus that were not resistant to antibiotics. So in total, 86 percent of the workers in the study carried the S. aureus bacteria, compared with about one-third of the population at large, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." This problem has grown since its last mention on Slashdot. Unfortunately, massive industrial lobbying continues to neuter government action.
Government

NSA Director Says Agency Is Still Trying To Figure Out Cyber Operations 57

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-don't-think-the-mr-magoo-routine-is-going-to-work dept.
Trailrunner7 writes: In a keynote speech at a security conference in Washington on Tuesday, new NSA Director Mike Rogers emphasized a need to establish behavioral norms for cyber war. "We're still trying to work our way through distinguishing the difference between criminal hacking and an act of war," said Rogers. "If this was easy, we would have figured it out years ago. We have a broad consensus about what constitutes an act of war, what's an act of defense." Rogers went on to explain that we need to better establish standardized terminology and standardized norms like those that exist in the realm of nuclear deterrence. Unfortunately, unlike in traditional national defense, we can not assume that the government will be able to completely protect us against cyber-threats because the threat ecosystem is just too broad.
Networking

Why Is It Taking So Long To Secure Internet Routing? 54

Posted by Soulskill
from the adoption-is-driven-by-fear dept.
CowboyRobot writes: We live in an imperfect world where routing-security incidents can still slip past deployed security defenses, and no single routing-security solution can prevent every attacks. Research suggests, however, that the combination of RPKI (Resource Public Key Infrastructure) with prefix filtering could significantly improve routing security; both solutions are based on whitelisting techniques and can reduce the number of autonomous systems that are impacted by prefix hijacks, route leaks, and path-shortening attacks. "People have been aware of BGP’s security issues for almost two decades and have proposed a number of solutions, most of which apply simple and well-understood cryptography or whitelisting techniques. Yet, many of these solutions remain undeployed (or incompletely deployed) in the global Internet, and the vulnerabilities persist. Why is it taking so long to secure BGP?"
Windows

What To Expect With Windows 9 339

Posted by Soulskill
from the solid-color-rectangles dept.
snydeq writes: Two weeks before the its official unveiling, this article provides a roundup of what to expect and the open questions around Windows 9, given Build 9834 leaks and confirmations springing up all over the Web. The desktop's Start Menu, Metro apps running in resizable windows on the desktop, virtual desktops, Notification Center, and Storage Sense, are among the presumed features in store for Windows 9. Chief among the open questions are the fates of Internet Explorer, Cortana, and the Metro Start Screen. Changes to Windows 9 will provide an inkling of where Nadella will lead Microsoft in the years ahead. What's your litmus test on Windows 9?
Robotics

The Case For a Federal Robotics Commission 50

Posted by Soulskill
from the heading-up-the-anti-singularity-committee dept.
New submitter hmcd31 writes: In a new paper for Brookings' series on the future of civilian robotics, University of Washington Law Professor Ryan Calo argues the need for a Federal Robotics Commission. With advancements such as driverless cars and drones taking to the roads and skies, Calo sees a need for a government agency to monitor these changes. His paper details many benefits a robotics commission could bring, from funding to assisting in law and policy issues. The policies developed by this FRC are argued to be particularly important, as their impact in creating an early infrastructure for robotics could create an environment that lets the technology grow even more.
Open Source

Digia Spins Off Qt As Subsidiary 27

Posted by Soulskill
from the musical-overlords dept.
DeviceGuru writes: Following through on an announcement from August, Digia has spun off a subsidiary called The Qt Company to unify Qt's commercial and open source efforts, and debuted a low-cost plan for mobile developers. The Linux-oriented Qt cross-platform development framework has had a tumultuous career, having been passed around Scandinavia over the years from Trolltech to Nokia and then from Nokia to Digia. Yet, Qt keeps rolling along in both commercial and open source community versions, continually adding support for new platforms and technologies, and gaining extensive support from mobile developers. Now Qt is its own company, or at least a wholly owned subsidiary under Digia. Finland-based Digia has largely been involved with the commercial versions of Qt since it acquired the platform from Nokia in 2012, but it has also sponsored the community Qt Project as a relatively separate project. Now, both efforts are being unified under one roof at The Qt Company and the new QT.io website, says Digia. Meanwhile, Digia will focus on its larger enterprise software business.
NASA

NASA's Manned Rocket Contract: $4.2 Billion To Boeing, $2.6 Billion To SpaceX 122

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
schwit1 writes NASA has chosen two companies to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, and those companies are Boeing and SpaceX. This decision confirms that SpaceX is ready to go and gives the company the opportunity to finish the job, while also giving Boeing the chance to show that it can still compete. After NASA has certified that each company has successfully built its spacecraft, SpaceX and Boeing will each fly two to six missions. The certification process will be step-by-step, similar to the methods used in the cargo contracts, and will involve five milestones. The contracts will be paid incrementally as they meet these milestones. One milestone will be a manned flight to the ISS, with one NASA astronaut on board. Boeing will receive $4.2 billion, while SpaceX will get $2.6 billion. These awards were based on what the companies proposed and requested.
Privacy

FBI Completes New Face Recognition System 86

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-know-what-you-did-last-summer dept.
Advocatus Diaboli writes: According to a report from Gizmodo, "After six years and over one billion dollars in development, the FBI has just announced that its new biometric facial recognition software system is finally complete. Meaning that, starting soon, photos of tens of millions of U.S. citizen's faces will be captured by the national system on a daily basis. The Next Generation Identification (NGI) program will logs all of those faces, and will reference them against its growing database in the event of a crime. It's not just faces, though. Thanks to the shared database dubbed the Interstate Photo System (IPS), everything from tattoos to scars to a person's irises could be enough to secure an ID. What's more, the FBI is estimating that NGI will include as many as 52 million individual faces by next year, collecting identified faces from mug shots and some job applications." Techdirt points out that an assessment of how this system affects privacy was supposed to have preceded the actual rollout. Unfortunately, that assessment is nowhere to be found.

Two recent news items are related. First, at a music festival in Boston last year, face recognition software was tested on festival-goers. Boston police denied involvement, but were seen using the software, and much of the data was carelessly made available online. Second, both Ford and GM are working on bringing face recognition software to cars. It's intended for safety and security — it can act as authentication and to make sure the driver is paying attention to the road.
Data Storage

Micron Releases 16nm-Process SSDs With Dynamic Flash Programming 46

Posted by Soulskill
from the march-of-progress dept.
Lucas123 writes: Micron's newest client flash drive line, the M600, uses its first 16nm process technology and dynamic write acceleration firmware that allows the flash to be programmed as SLC or MLC instead of using overprovisioning or reserving a permanent pool of flash cache to accelerate writes. The ability to dynamically program the flash reduces power use and improves write performance as much as 2.8 times over models without the feature, according to Jon Tanguy, Micron's senior technical marketing engineer. The new lithography process technology also allowed Micron to reduce the price of the flash drive to 45 cents a gigabyte.
Space

Astronomers Find Star-Within-a-Star, 40 Years After First Theorized 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the plot-a-course-and-engage-at-warp-six dept.
derekmead writes: After 40 years, astronomers have likely found a rather strange celestial body known as a Thorne–Zytkow object (TZO), in which a neutron star is absorbed by a red supergiant. Originally predicted in the 1970s, the first non-theoretical TZO was found earlier this year, based on calculations presented in a paper forthcoming in MNRAS.

TZOs were predicted by astronomer Kip Thorne and Anna Zytkow, who wasthen postdoctoral fellow at CalTech. The pair imagined what might happen if a neutron star in a binary system merged with its partner red supergiant. This wouldn't be like two average stars merging. Neutron stars are the ancient remnants of stars that grew too big and exploded. Their cores remain small — about 12.5 miles across — as they shed material out into space. Red supergiants are the largest stars in the galaxy, with radii up to 800 times that of our sun, but they aren't dense.
Cellphones

Apple Edits iPhone 6's Protruding Camera Out of Official Photos 302

Posted by Soulskill
from the truthiness-in-advertising dept.
Sockatume writes: If you've been browsing Apple's site leading up to the iPhone 6 launch, you might've noticed something a little odd. Apple has edited the handset's protruding camera out of every single side-on view of the phone. (The camera is, necessarily, retained for images showing the back of the device.) The absence is particularly conspicuous given the number of side views Apple uses to emphasize the device's thinness.
Businesses

New Global Plan Would Crack Down On Corporate Tax Avoidance 250

Posted by Soulskill
from the bring-our-benjamins-home dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Reuters reports that plans for a major rewriting of international tax rules have been unveiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that could eliminate structures that have allowed companies like Google and Amazon to shave billions of dollars off their tax bills. For more than 50 years, the OECD's work on international taxation has been focused on ensuring companies are not taxed twice on the same profits (and thereby hampering trade and limit global growth). But companies have been using such treaties to ensure profits are not taxed anywhere. A Reuters investigation last year found that three quarters of the 50 biggest U.S. technology companies channeled revenues from European sales into low tax jurisdictions like Ireland and Switzerland, rather than reporting them nationally.

For example, search giant Google takes advantage of tax treaties to channel more than $8 billion in untaxed profits out of Europe and Asia each year and into a subsidiary that is tax resident in Bermuda, which has no income tax. "We are putting an end to double non-taxation," says OECD head of tax Pascal Saint-Amans.For the recommendations to actually become binding, countries will have to encode them in their domestic laws or amend their bilateral tax treaties. Even if they do pass, these changes are likely 5-10 years away from going into effect.
Speaking of international corporate business: U.K. mainframe company Micro Focus announced it will buy Attachmate, which includes Novell and SUSE.
Robotics

Developing the First Law of Robotics 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the thou-shalt-not-kill-all-humans dept.
wabrandsma sends this article from New Scientist: In an experiment, Alan Winfield and his colleagues programmed a robot to prevent other automatons – acting as proxies for humans – from falling into a hole. This is a simplified version of Isaac Asimov's fictional First Law of Robotics – a robot must not allow a human being to come to harm. At first, the robot was successful in its task. As a human proxy moved towards the hole, the robot rushed in to push it out of the path of danger. But when the team added a second human proxy rolling toward the hole at the same time, the robot was forced to choose. Sometimes, it managed to save one human while letting the other perish; a few times it even managed to save both. But in 14 out of 33 trials, the robot wasted so much time fretting over its decision that both humans fell into the hole. Winfield describes his robot as an "ethical zombie" that has no choice but to behave as it does. Though it may save others according to a programmed code of conduct, it doesn't understand the reasoning behind its actions.

Nothing is faster than the speed of light ... To prove this to yourself, try opening the refrigerator door before the light comes on.

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