Mars

Software Patch Fixes Mars Curiosity Rover's Auto-focus Glitch 52

Posted by Soulskill
from the careful-with-those-semi-colons dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory have successfully uploaded and applied a software patch to NASA's Curiosity Rover on Mars. The patch fixes a focusing problem that cropped up in November when the laser that helps to focus one of its cameras failed. "Without this laser rangefinder, the ChemCam instrument was somewhat blind," said Roger Wiens, ChemCam principal investigator at Los Alamos. "The main laser that creates flashes of plasma when it analyzes rocks and soils up to 25 feet [7.6 meters] from the rover was not affected, but the laser analyses only work when the telescope projecting the laser light to the target is in focus." Before the fix, scientists had to shoot images at nine different focus settings to distill a decent set of data. Now, they say the new software results in better images in a single shot than even before the laser broke down. The program that runs the instrument is only 40 kilobytes in size.
Perl

Ask Slashdot: Career Advice For an Aging Perl Developer? 263

Posted by timothy
from the by-the-time-you-read-this-you're-even-older dept.
New submitter ukrifleman writes: I've been doing UK based perl, JS, light PHP and JQUERY dev plus Centos/Debian sys admin on a freelance basis for over a decade now. Mostly maintaining older stuff but I also undertook a big, 3 year bespoke project (all written in legacy non OO perl). The trouble is, that contract has now finished and all the legacy work has dried out and I've only got about 2 months of income left! I need to get a full time job.

To most dev firms I'm going to look like a bit of a dinosaur, 40 odd years old, knows little of OO coding OR modern languages and aproaches to projects. I can write other languages and, with a bit of practice I'll pick them up pretty quickly. I really don't know where to start. What's hot, what's worth learning, I'm self-taught so have no CS degree, just 15 years of dev and sys admin experience. I've got a bit of team and project management experience too it's quite a worry going up against young whipper snappers that know all the buzz words and modern tech!

Am I better off trying to get a junior job to start so I can catch up with some tech? Would I be better off trawling the thousands of job sites or finding a bonafide IT specialist recruitment firm? Should I take the brutally honest approach to my CV/interviews or just wing it and hope I don't bite off more than I can chew? What kind of learning curve could I expect if I took on a new language I have no experience with? Are there any qualififcations that I NEED to have before firms would be willing to take me on? I've been sitting here at this desk for 10 years typing away and only now do I realise that I've stagnated to the point where I may well be obsolete!
Cellphones

Pre-Orders Start For Neo900 Open Source Phone 134

Posted by timothy
from the hello-operator dept.
New submitter JoSch1337 writes: After a year and a half of development, the Neo900 project now opened its web shop for the down payments of binding pre-orders for either a full Neo900 phone or the bare circuit board to upgrade an existing Nokia N900. The up-front down payment is necessary to now secure expensive "risk parts" like the modem, 1GB RAM and N900 cases. Thus, without pre-ordering now, there might not be enough parts left after the first batch.

The Neo900 is the spritual successor of the Nokia N900. The new circuit board can be placed into an existing N900 for better specs (faster CPU, more RAM, LTE modem) than the original device while still maintaining fremantle (maemo 5) backwards compatibility. Alternatively, a fully assembled phone can be purchased as well. The Neo900 will be fully operational without any binary blob running on the main CPU. While the modem still requires a non-free firmware, it is completely decoupled from the rest of the device (think of a LTE usb stick you put in your laptop) and can reliably be monitored or switched off by the operating system.

You can follow the development of the project in the maemo forum, read about the specs of the device or consult the FAQ
Bug

Linux 4.0 Has a File-System Corruption Problem, RAID Users Warned 223

Posted by timothy
from the don't-store-the-ark-there dept.
An anonymous reader writes: For the past few days kernel developers and Linux users have been investigating an EXT4 file-system corruption issue affecting the latest stable kernel series (Linux 4.0) and the current development code (Linux 4.1). It turns out that Linux users running the EXT4 file-system on a RAID0 configuration can easily destroy their file-system with this newest "stable" kernel. The cause and fix have materialized but it hasn't yet worked its way out into the mainline kernel, thus users should be warned before quickly upgrading to the new kernel on systems with EXT4 and RAID0.
Businesses

Grand Theft Auto V Keeps Raking In Money 95

Posted by samzenpus
from the hits-keep-coming dept.
jones_supa writes: At end of 2013, Grand Theft Auto V made $800 million during initial 24 hours of sales. The title keeps churning profit as the publisher Take-Two closes the book on fiscal year 2015, which ended March 31. The company reported better-than-expected profits of $54.3 million atop revenue of $427.7 million in its fourth quarter, a significant improvement over the $21.5 million profit it reaped from $233.2 million in revenue during the same period last year. This time around Take-Two once again credited GTA V as its premier revenue driver for the final quarter of the year. With PS4/XBOne/PC versions out as well, the game has been an excellent investment. Strong runner-ups were 2K titles NBA 2K15 and Evolve.
Education

AP Computer Science Education Scalability: Advantage, Rupert Murdoch? 47

Posted by Soulskill
from the teaching-the-next-generation-of-voicemail-hackers dept.
theodp writes: Code.org's AP Computer Science offering won't be going mainstream until the 2016-2017 school year. In the meantime, NewsWorks' Avi Wolfman-Arent reports that Rupert Murdoch's Amplify MOOC just wrapped up its second year of offering AP Computer Science A. And unlike Microsoft TEALS, Google CS First, and Code.org — programs constrained by the number of volunteers, teacher and classroom availability, professional development requirements, and money — Murdoch's AP CS MOOC holds the promise of open-access, unlimited-enrollment, learn-anywhere-and-anytime classes, a la Coursera, Udacity and EdX. So, did Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and their leaders place a $30 million bet on the wrong horse when it comes to AP Computer Science scalability? And, even if they've got a more scalable model, will Murdoch's Amplify and schools be willing to deal with higher MOOC failure rates, and allow large numbers of students to try — and possibly drop or fail — AP CS without economic or academic consequences?
Encryption

Trojanized, Info-Stealing PuTTY Version Lurking Online 215

Posted by timothy
from the at-your-command-prompt dept.
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.
Facebook

European Internet Users Urged To Protect Themselves Against Facebook Tracking 145

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-unfriend-you dept.
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."
The Almighty Buck

Stock Market Valuation Exceeds Its Components' Actual Value 335

Posted by Soulskill
from the of-wary-bulls dept.
An anonymous reader writes: James Tobin, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, developed a concept called "Q-value" — it's the ratio between two numbers: 1) the sum of all publicly-traded companies' stock valuations and 2) the value of all these companies' actual assets, if they were sold. Bloomberg reports that the continued strength of the stock market has now caused that ratio to go over 1 — in other words, the market values companies about 10% higher than the sum of their actual assets. The Q value is now at its highest point since the Dot-com bubble. Similar peaks in the past hundred years have all been quickly followed by crashes.

Now, that's not to say a crash is imminent — experts disagree on the Q-value's reliability. One said, "the ratio's doubling since 2009 to 1.10 is a symptom of companies diverting money from their businesses to the stock market, choosing buybacks over capital spending. Six years of zero-percent interest rates have similarly driven investors into riskier things like equities, elevating the paper value of assets over their tangible worth." Others point out that as the digital economy grows, a greater portion of publicly traded companies lack the tangible assets that were the hallmark of the manufacturing boom.
Classic Games (Games)

MAME Changing License To Fully Libre One 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the emulating-success dept.
jones_supa writes: The source code of MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) has long been freely available, but it's never been completely libre. Instead, it's been available under a modified BSD license that prohibits, among other things, commercial use of the code. MAME engineer Miodrag Milanovic explains that such a license was put in place to deter "misuse of MAME in illegal ways," but it also kept legitimate commercial entities doing business with the software. Examples of such could be museums that charge entry fees from using MAME in their exhibits, or copyright holders rereleasing vintage games encapsulated inside MAME. Now the project wants to go fully open. Milanovic continues: "Our aim is to help legal license owners in distributing their games based on MAME platform, and to make MAME become a learning tool for developers working on development boards." As of yet, there are no specific details about the new license.
Crime

US Passport Agency Contractor Stole Applicants' Data To Steal Their Identities 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the was-that-wrong? dept.
An anonymous reader writes: According to federal prosecutors three women are responsible for an identity theft and wire fraud scheme targeting both the Houston and Atlanta passport agencies. Chloe McClendon, Alicia Myles, and Dominique Thomas are accused of stealing personal information from the passport administration and transmitting it back and forth between one another. The stolen information was used to obtain lines of credit in order to purchase iPhones, iPads and other electronics. The scheme went on for over five years.
Censorship

Third Bangladeshi Blogger Murdered In As Many Months 284

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Ananta Bijoy Das blogged about science in Bangladesh, also sometimes tackling difficult issues about religion. He won an award in 2006 for "deep and courageous interest in spreading secular and humanist ideals and messages." He's now been murdered for his writings, the third Bangladeshi blogger to die in the past few months. Four masked assailants chased him down in broad daylight and attacked him with cleavers and machetes. The Committee to Protect Journalists says Das is the 20th writer to be murdered globally so far this year. Arrests have been made in Bangladesh for the murders of the previous two bloggers this year, but no convictions have yet been made. Das's murderers remain at large.
Businesses

Philippines Gives Uber Its First Legal Framework To Operate In Asia 27

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-rules dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Philippines has given Uber a rare boost in its hard-fought Asian territories, by granting new legislation that provides rules within which it may legally operate. To this end the country's Department of Transportation and Communications has created a new category of ride called the Transportation Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) classification — whilst at the same time mollifying beleaguered indigenous taxi-services by creating an equivalent classification for an app-hailed taxi able to accept credit cards. As with all its other negotiations in Asia, the fruits of Uber's consultation with the Philippine government was prefaced by unorganized invasion, trade complaints, bans and general conflict.
Security

Top Cyber Attack Vectors For Critical SAP Systems 65

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Despite housing an organization's most valuable and sensitive information, SAP systems are not protected from cyber threats by traditional security approaches. Based on assessments of hundreds of SAP implementations, the Onapsis Research Labs study found that over 95 percent of SAP systems were exposed to vulnerabilities that could lead to full compromise of the company's business data and processes. Most companies are also exposed to protracted patching windows averaging 18 months or more. In 2014 alone, 391 security patches were released by SAP, averaging more than 30 per month. Almost 50 percent of them were ranked as "high priority" by SAP.
Privacy

Sorority Files Lawsuit After Sacred Secrets Posted On Penny Arcade Forums 257

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-so-secret-handshake dept.
Limekiller42 writes: Lawyers for the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority have filed suit in Seattle's King County Superior Court against an unidentified person for "publicizing the sorority's secret handshake, robe colors and other practices." The well-written article is by Levi Pulkkinen of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and states that the sorority is seeking a restraining order and financial compensation for damages.
Programming

C Code On GitHub Has the Most "Ugly Hacks" 264

Posted by samzenpus
from the eye-of-the-beholder dept.
itwbennett writes: An analysis of GitHub data shows that C developers are creating the most ugly hacks — or are at least the most willing to admit to it. To answer the question of which programming language produces the most ugly hacks, ITworld's Phil Johnson first used the search feature on GitHub, looking for code files that contained the string 'ugly hack'. In that case, C comes up first by a wide margin, with over 181,000 code files containing that string. The rest of the top ten languages were PHP (79k files), JavaScript (38k), C++ (22k), Python (19k), Text (11k), Makefile (11k), HTML, (10k), Java (7k), and Perl (4k). Even when controlling for the number of repositories, C wins the ugly-hack-athon by a landslide, Johnson found.
Programming

Is It Worth Learning a Little-Known Programming Language? 267

Posted by timothy
from the worth-it-to-whom? dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Ask a group of developers to rattle off the world's most popular programming languages, and they'll likely name the usual suspects: JavaScript, Java, Python, Ruby, C++, PHP, and so on. Ask which programming languages pay the best, and they'll probably list the same ones, which makes sense. But what about the little-known languages and skill sets (Dice link) that don't leap immediately to mind but nonetheless support some vital IT infrastructure (and sometimes, as a result, pay absurdly well)? is it worth learning a relatively obscure language or skill set, on the hope that you can score one of a handful of well-paying jobs that require it? The answer is a qualified yes—so long as the language or skill set in question is clearly on the rise. Go, Swift, Rust, Julia and CoffeeScript have all enjoyed rising popularity, for example, which increases the odds that they'll remain relevant for at least the next few years. But a language without momentum behind it probably isn't worth your time, unless you want to learn it simply for the pleasure of learning something new.
Security

USBKill Transforms a Thumb Drive Into an "Anti-Forensic" Device 288

Posted by timothy
from the content-scrambling-system dept.
Orome1 writes with a snippet from a report at net-security.org; a hacker going by Hephaestos has shared with the world a Python script that, when put on an USB thumb drive, turns the device in an effective kill switch for the computer to which it's plugged in. USBkill, as the programmer dubbed it, "waits for a change on your USB ports, then immediately kills your computer." The device would be useful "in case the police comes busting in, or steals your laptop from you when you are at a public library," Hephaestos explained.
Earth

Recent Paper Shows Fracking Chemicals In Drinking Water, Industry Attacks It 328

Posted by timothy
from the they-never-factor-in-the-tastiness dept.
eldavojohn writes: A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences turned up 2-Butoxyethanol from samples collected from three households in Pennsylvania. The paper's level headed conclusion is that more conservative well construction techniques should be used to avoid this in the future and that flowback should be better controlled. Rob Jackson, another scientist who reviewed the paper, stressed that the findings were an exception to normal operations. Despite that, the results angered the PR gods of the Marcellus Shale Gas industry and awoke beltway insider mouthpieces to attack the research — after all, what are they paying them for?
Security

Unnoticed For Years, Malware Turned Linux Servers Into Spamming Machines 180

Posted by timothy
from the just-where-you-least-expect-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes: For over 5 years, and perhaps even longer, servers around the world running Linux and FreeBSD operating systems have been targeted by an individual or group that compromised them via a backdoor Trojan, then made them send out spam, ESET researchers have found. What's more, it seems that the spammers are connected with a software company called Yellsoft, which sells DirectMailer, a "system for automated e-mail distribution" that allows users to send out anonymous email in bulk. Here's the white paper in which the researchers explain the exploit.