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Books

Book Review: Drush For Developers, 2nd Edition 28

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Michael Ross writes As with any content management system, building a website using Drupal typically requires extensive use of its administrative interface, as one navigates through its menus, fills out its forms, and reads the admin pages and notifications — or barely skims them, as they have likely been seen by the site builder countless times before. With the aim of avoiding this tedium, speeding up the process, and making it more programmatic, members of the Drupal community created a "shell" program, Drush, which allows one to perform most of these tasks on the command line. At this time, there is only one current print book that covers this tool, Drush for Developers, Second Edition, which is ostensibly an update of its predecessor, Drush User's Guide. Read below for the rest of Michael's review.
Earth

Experts: Aim of 2 Degrees Climate Goal Insufficient 425

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-it-cool dept.
An anonymous reader points out that a long held goal of keeping the Earth's average temperature from rising above 2 degrees Celsius might not be good enough. "A long-held benchmark for limiting global warming is 'utterly inadequate,' a leading U.N. climate scientist declared. Keeping the Earth's average temperature from rising past 2 degrees Celsius – a cap established by studies in the early 1970s – is far too loose a goal, Petra Tschakert, a professor at Penn State University and a lead author of an assessment report for the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, said in a commentary published in the journal Climate Change Responses. Already, with an average increase of just 0.8 degrees Celsius, she wrote, 'negative impacts' are 'widespread across the globe.' Tschakert called for lowering the warming target to 1.5 degrees Celsius."
GNU is Not Unix

GNU Nano Gets New Stable Release 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
jones_supa writes: GNU Nano 2.4.0 has been released as the first stable update to this UNIX command line text editor in a number of years. The release codenamed "Lizf" brings a wide variety of changes: full undo system, Vim-compatible file locking, linter support, formatter support, flexible syntax highlighting, and random bugfixes.
Earth

Better Disaster Shelters than FEMA Trailers (Video) 79

Posted by Roblimo
from the they'd-better-have-internet-routers-built-in dept.
An aerospace engineer and Mississippi native named Michael McDaniel "watched helplessly as Hurricane Katrina forced thousands of people out of their homes and into crowded, poorly equipped 'shelters.'" This scenario led to Michael founding Reaction Housing and the creation of its first product, the Exo (as in exoskeleton) shelter. This company isn't holding its hand out for crowdfunding. It got $1.5 million in seed capital in March, 2014, later got another $10 million, and is now going into mass production of its Exo housing units.

Reaction Housing is not the only attempt to make post-disaster housing better, or at least less expensive, than the infamous FEMA trailers. A charity called ShelterBox in Lakewood Ranch, FL, fills boxes with everything a family or group of up to 10 people needs, including a heavy-duty tent, bedding, and kitchen supplies, in order to survive after a natural disaster. (Here's an interview video I shot in 2010 about ShelterBox.) Exo, ShelterBox or any one of dozens of other emergency housing alternatives are good to have around, ready to go, for the next Katrina, Sandy or Tsunami. High tech? Not necessarily, but technology has obviously made emergency housing faster and easier to erect than the "earthquake shacks" that were built in San Francisco to house people made homeless by the 1906 earthquake.
Hardware Hacking

Hack Air-Gapped Computers Using Heat 122

Posted by timothy
from the oh-baby-you're-so-communicative dept.
An anonymous reader writes Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers have discovered a new method to breach air-gapped computer systems called "BitWhisper," which enables two-way communications between adjacent, unconnected PC computers using heat. BitWhisper bridges the air-gap between the two computers, approximately 15 inches apart that are infected with malware by using their heat emissions and built-in thermal sensors to communicate. It establishes a covert, bi-directional channel by emitting heat from one PC to the other in a controlled manner. Also at Wired.
Graphics

Pixar Releases Free Version of RenderMan 198

Posted by Soulskill
from the free-as-in-beer dept.
jones_supa writes: A year ago, animation studio Pixar promised its RenderMan animation and rendering suite would eventually become free for non-commercial use. This was originally scheduled to happen in the SIGGRAPH 2014 computer graphics conference, but things got delayed. Nevertheless, today Pixar is releasing the free version into the wild. Free, non-commercial RenderMan can be used for research, education, evaluation, plug-in development, and any personal projects that do not generate commercial profits. This version is fully featured, without a watermark or any kind of artificial limits. Featuring Pixar's new RIS technology, RenderMan delivers extremely fast global illumination and interactive shading and lighting for artists. The software is available for Mac, Linux, and Windows. In conjunction with the release, Pixar has also launched a new RenderMan Community site where users can exchange knowledge and resources, showcase their own work, share assets such as shaders and scripts, and learn about RenderMan from tutorials.
Books

Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Michael Ross writes In recent years, JavaScript has enjoyed a dramatic renaissance as it has been transformed from a browser scripting tool primarily used for special effects and form validation on web pages, to a substantial client-side programming language. Similarly, on the server side, after years as the target of criticism, the PHP computer programming language is seeing a revival, partly due to the addition of new capabilities, such as namespaces, traits, generators, closures, and components, among other improvements. PHP enthusiasts and detractors alike can learn more about these changes from the book Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices, authored by Josh Lockhart. Keep reading for the rest of Michael's review.
AMD

Gaming On Linux With Newest AMD Catalyst Driver Remains Slow 178

Posted by samzenpus
from the molasses-in-the-winter dept.
An anonymous reader writes The AMD Catalyst binary graphics driver has made a lot of improvements over the years, but it seems that NVIDIA is still leading in the Linux game with their shared cross-platform driver. Tests done by Phoronix of the Catalyst 15.3 Linux Beta found on Ubuntu 15.04 shows that NVIDIA continues leading over AMD Catalyst with several different GPUs on BioShock Infinite, a game finally released for Linux last week. With BioShock Infinite on Linux, years old mid-range GeForce GPUs were clobbering the high-end Radeon R9 290 and other recent AMD GPUs tested. The poor showing wasn't limited to BS:I though as the Metro Redux games were re-tested too on the new drivers and found the NVIDIA graphics still ran significantly faster and certainly a different story than under Windows.
Encryption

OpenSSL Security Update Less Critical Than Expected, Still Recommended 64

Posted by timothy
from the man-nips-dog dept.
An anonymous reader writes As announced on Monday, the OpenSSL project team has released new versions of the cryptographic library that fix a number of security issues. The announcement created a panic within the security community, who were dreading the discovery of another Heartbleed-type bug, but as it turns out, the high severity issue fixed is a bug than can be exploited in a DoS attack against servers. Other issues fixed are mostly memory corruption and DoS flaws of moderate and low severity.
Security

Personal Healthcare Info of Over 11M Premera Customers Compromised 69

Posted by Soulskill
from the another-day,-another-breach dept.
An anonymous reader writes: U.S. healthcare provider Premera Blue Cross has suffered a data breach that resulted in a potential compromise of personal, financial and health-related information of as many as 11 million applicants and members. The breach was detected on January 29, 2015, and the investigation mounted by the company and by forensic investigators from Mandiant has revealed that the initial attack happened on May 5, 2014. The FBI has also been notified, and is involved in the investigation."
Social Networks

Education Company Monitors Social Media For Test References 95

Posted by Soulskill
from the learning-how-to-spy-via-standardized-tests dept.
theodp writes: As if people haven't found enough to hate about the new 11+ hour K-12 PARCC standardized testing, the Washington Post reports that Pearson, the world's largest education company, is monitoring social media during the administration of the PARCC Common Core test to detect any security breaches, saying it is "obligated" to alert authorities when any problems are discovered. The monitoring of social media was revealed in a message that a New Jersey School Superintendent sent to colleagues about a "Priority 1 Alert" initiated by Pearson in response to a student who referenced a PARCC test question in an after-school Tweet. The news was broken in a blog entry by former NJ Star-Ledger reporter Bob Braun, who also posted the Superintendent's message and called the monitoring of social media nothing less than "spying." Pearson has a contract of more than $100 million to administer the PARCC in New Jersey.
Science

Ask Slashdot: Why Does Science Appear To Be Getting Things Increasingly Wrong? 320

Posted by Soulskill
from the tougher-questions-tougher-answers dept.
azaris writes: Recent revelations of heavily policy-driven or even falsified science have raised concern in the general public, but especially in the scientific community itself. It's not purely a question of political or commercial interference either (as is often claimed when it comes to e.g. climate research) — scientists themselves are increasingly incentivized to game the system for improved career prospects, more funding, or simply because they perceive everyone else to do it, too. Even discounting outright fraud or manipulation of data, the widespread use of methodologies known to be invalid plagues many fields and is leading to an increasing inability to reproduce recent findings (the so-called crisis of reproducibility) that puts the very basis of our reliance on scientific research results at risk. Of course, one could claim that science is by nature self-correcting, but the problem appears to be getting worse before it gets better.

Is it time for more scientists to speak out openly about raising the level of transparency and honesty in their field?
Security

New Crypto-Ransomware Encrypts Video Game Files 73

Posted by timothy
from the first-world-problems dept.
An anonymous reader writes A new piece of ransomware that (mis)uses the Cryptolocker "brand" has been analyzed by Bromium researchers, and they discovered that aside from the usual assortment of file types that ransomware usually targets, this variant also encrypts file types associated with video games and game related software. It targets files associated with single-user games Call of Duty, Star Craft 2, Diablo, Fallout 3, Minecraft, Half-Life 2, Dragon Age: Origins, The Elder Scrolls and specifically Skyrim-related files, Star Wars: The Knights Of The Old Republic, WarCraft 3, F.E.A.R, Saint Rows 2, Metro 2033, Assassin's Creed, S.T.A.L.K.E.R., Resident Evil 4, Bioshock 2; and online games World of Warcraft, Day Z, League of Legends, World of Tanks, and Metin2. Here's the Bromium Labs report.
Hardware

The 2015 Vintage Computer Festival East is April 17-19 (Video) 23

Posted by Roblimo
from the they-don't-make-them-like-they-used-to dept.
The Vintage Computer Festival East is where you go to see working computers from the forties through the eighties. It's held at the Information Age Learning Center (InfoAge) in Wall, New Jersey, a site that is full of electronics history on its own. In addition to displays (including a number of items for sale), there are sessions on topics ranging from "Keyboard Restoration" to "Fixing what's hopelessly broken." Event volunteer Evan Koblentz, today's interviewee, says that most of the several hundred people the event draws every year come from the United States, but there are always at least a few international visitors. And if New Jersey isn't your thing, there are other Vintage Computer Festivals you might want to attend. To get current news about these events, you might want to sign up for the VCF email list.
Security

Flaw In Dropbox SDK For Android Lets Attackers Steal Data Sent To Users' Account 23

Posted by Soulskill
from the many-points-of-failure dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from IBM's security team have discovered an authentication flaw in the Dropbox Software Development Kit (SDK) for Android that can be exploited to capture new data a user saves to its Dropbox account. The flaw has been extensively documented by the researchers in a blog post, but the things you initially need to know are these: the vulnerability can be exploited if you use an app that uses a Dropbox SDK Version 1.5.4 through 1.6.1 (the latest one is v1.6.3), or if you visit a specially-crafted malicious page with your Android web browser targeting that app, and that's only if you don't have the Dropbox for Android app installed. Also, an attacker can't access the data you have previously stored in your Dropbox account.
PC Games (Games)

Steam On Linux Now Has Over a Thousand Games Available 192

Posted by Soulskill
from the year-of-linux-on-the-console dept.
An anonymous reader writes: This week the Steam Linux client has crossed the threshold of having more than 1,000 native Linux games available while Steam in total has just under 5,000 games. This news comes while the reported Steam Linux market-share is just about 1.0%, but Valve continues brewing big plans for Linux gaming. Is 2015 the year of the Linux gaming system?
Space

The Milky Way May Be 50 Percent Bigger Than Previously Thought 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the performance-enhancing-telescopes dept.
astroengine writes: A ring-like filament of stars wrapping around the Milky Way may actually belong to the galaxy itself, rippling above and below the relatively flat galactic plane. If so, that would expand the size of the known galaxy by 50 percent and raise intriguing questions about what caused the waves of stars. Scientists used data collected by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to reanalyze the brightness and distance of stars at the edge of the galaxy. They found that the fringe of the disk is puckered into ridges and grooves of stars, like corrugated cardboard. "It looks to me like maybe these patterns are following the spiral structure of the Milky Way, so they may be related," said astronomer Heidi Newberg. In other Milky Way new, a Cambridge team has found nine new dwarf satellites orbiting our galaxy. Some of them are definitely dwarf galaxies, and the others may be the same, or globular clusters.
Google

TSYNC Not a Hard Requirement For Google Chrome After All 46

Posted by timothy
from the what-we-meant-was dept.
An anonymous reader writes A few days ago it appeared that Google began requiring new versions of the Linux kernel for the Chrome/Chromium web browser. To some people, such requirement smelled funny, and it turns out that those people had the right hunch. Google does not intend for there to be a hard requirement on the latest versions of the Linux kernel that expose SECCOMP_FILTER_FLAG_TSYNC, but instead many users are hitting an issue around it. A Chromium developer commented on the related bug: "Updating the title so that people who have been mislead into thinking non-TSYNC kernels were deprecated immediately understand that there is simply 'some unknown bug' hitting some users." Of course, a user having the TSYNC feature in his kernel will still get a security benefit.
Displays

PrintDisplay: DIY Displays and Touchscreens Anyone Can Print 14

Posted by samzenpus
from the print-and-watch dept.
Zothecula writes For years now, we've been promised miraculous new flexible touchscreen displays, but the deployment of such technology in big consumer products, like say the LG G Flex, hasn't started any revolutions just yet. That could soon change thanks to a team of computer scientists from Germany's Saarland University who have developed a technique that could allow anyone to literally print their own custom displays, including touchscreens."
Graphics

Google Introduces Freon, a Replacement For X11 On Chrome OS 166

Posted by timothy
from the low-level-churn-at-a-high-level dept.
An anonymous reader writes With this week's release of Chrome OS M41, there is the new Freon graphics stack to replace X11 on some platforms. Freon is a very limited graphics stack to replace Chrome OS usage of X11/X.Org by having the Chrome browser communicate directly with the Linux kernel's KMS/DRM API and OpenGL ES interfaces for drawing. This design is much simpler and yields various power and performance improvements though it's not based on Wayland nor Mir (though Chrome plans to support these display server models).