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Anand Lal Shimpi Retires From AnandTech

Slashdot.org - Dje, 31/08/2014 - 5:36pd
An anonymous reader writes: If you've built a PC in the past 17.5 years, chances are you read some hardware reviews on AnandTech at some point. The site's creator, Anand Lal Shimpi, has announced that he is retiring from the tech writing business. He said, "AnandTech started as a site that primarily reviewed motherboards, then we added CPUs, video cards, cases, notebooks, Macs, smartphones, tablets and anything else that mattered. The site today is just as strong in coverage of new mobile devices as it is in our traditional PC component coverage ... To the millions of readers who have visited and supported me and the site over the past 17+ years, I owe you my deepest gratitude. You all enabled me to spend over half of my life learning more than I ever could have in any other position. The education I've received doing this job and the ability to serve you all with it is the most amazing gift anyone could ever ask for. You enabled me to get the education of a lifetime and I will never be able to repay you for that. Thank you."

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Microsoft Defies Court Order, Will Not Give Emails To US Government

Slashdot.org - Dje, 31/08/2014 - 2:02pd
schwit1 sends this excerpt from a report about Microsoft: Despite a federal court order directing Microsoft to turn overseas-held email data to federal authorities, the software giant said Friday it will continue to withhold that information as it waits for the case to wind through the appeals process. The judge has now ordered both Microsoft and federal prosecutors to advise her how to proceed by next Friday, September 5. Let there be no doubt that Microsoft's actions in this controversial case are customer-centric. The firm isn't just standing up to the US government on moral principles. It's now defying a federal court order. "Microsoft will not be turning over the email and plans to appeal," a Microsoft statement notes. "Everyone agrees this case can and will proceed to the appeals court. This is simply about finding the appropriate procedure for that to happen."

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Alexander Kojevnikov: Faster Fast Fourier Transform

Planet GNOME - Dje, 31/08/2014 - 2:00pd

Spek is already pretty fast at analyzing audio files and creating their spectrograms. Apparently, it can be made even faster!

A sizable chunk of processing time is spent calculating discrete Fourier transforms of audio samples. In this post I'm going to explore a few DFT libraries and compare their performance to what Spek is currently using.

This won't be a comprehensive overview of all available libraries. I'm going to benchmark only what Spek needs:

  • Relatively small, power of 2 transform sizes. The default size in Spek is 211, this will be adjustable in the future, but not by much.

  • Single precision floating point numbers. 24-bit significand is enough when working with audio samples.

  • Only one-dimensional forward real transforms.

  • Last but not least, the DFT library should be free software, actively maintained, fairly popular and multi-platform.

The list of candidates is surprisingly short:

  • avfft, which is part of the FFmpeg project. This is what Spek uses.

  • FFTW. Probably the most respectable FFT library of all. Supports both in-place and out-of-place transforms.

  • djbfft by Dr. Bernstein of daemontools fame. It's not as performance tuned as the other two (e.g. it doesn't use SIMD instructions), but I want to see how it fares against them.

The test setup is straightforward (the code is on GitHub in case you're curious):

  • Generate pseudo-random single-precision floating point samples. The number of samples corresponds to 10 minutes of signal at standard 44.1 kHz sampling rate.

  • For all libraries and for all transform sizes from 29 to 213 run non-overlapping FFTs for the entire signal.

  • Measure wall clock time only for FFTs (exclude sample generation and library initialization), take 5 measurements for every combination, report the fastest.

Results:

As expected, djbfft is the slowest, using SIMD instructions does make things faster. I am however surprised how fast the FFTW is compared to avfft (approximately 60% faster!)

Conclusion: Next version of Spek will switch to FFTW.

Wi-Fi Router Attack Only Requires a Single PIN Guess

Slashdot.org - Dje, 31/08/2014 - 12:53pd
An anonymous reader writes: New research shows that wireless routers are still quite vulnerable to attack if they don't use a good implementation of Wi-Fi Protected Setup. Bad implementations do a poor job of randomizing the key used to authenticate hardware PINs. Because of this, the new attack only requires a single guess at the hardware PIN to collect data necessary to break it. After a few hours to process the data, an attacker can access the router's WPS functionality. Two major router manufacturers are affected: Broadcom, and a manufacturer to be named once they get around to fixing it. "Because many router manufacturers use the reference software implementation as the basis for their customized router software, the problems affected the final products, Bongard said. Broadcom's reference implementation had poor randomization, while the second vendor used a special seed, or nonce, of zero, essentially eliminating any randomness."

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Google's Megan Smith Would Be First US CTO Worthy of the Title

Slashdot.org - Sht, 30/08/2014 - 11:40md
theodp writes: Bloomberg is reporting that Google X's Megan Smith is the top candidate for U.S. Chief Technology Officer. With a BS/MS in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, and experience ranging from General Magic to Google, Smith would arguably be the first U.S. CTO worthy of the title (the outgoing U.S. CTO has a bachelor's in Econ; his predecessor has a master's in Public Policy). "Smith joined Google in 2003. As vice president of business development, she oversaw many of its most important acquisitions, like Keyhole, the service that underlies Google Earth. She has led the company’s philanthropic division, Google.org, and served as a co-host for Google’s Solve for X forum, where distinguished thinkers and scientists brainstorm radical technology ideas with Google executives."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








States Allowing Medical Marijuana Have Fewer Painkiller Deaths

Slashdot.org - Sht, 30/08/2014 - 10:31md
An anonymous reader writes: Narcotic painkillers aren't one of the biggest killers in the U.S., but overdoses do claim over 15,000 lives per year and send hundreds of thousands to the emergency room. Because of this, it's interesting that a new study (abstract) has found states that allow the use of medical marijuana have seen a dramatic reduction in opioid overdose fatalities. "Previous studies hint at why marijuana use might help reduce reliance on opioid painkillers. Many drugs with abuse potential such as nicotine and opiates, as well as marijuana, pump up the brain's dopamine levels, which can induce feelings of euphoria. The biological reasons that people might use marijuana instead of opioids aren't exactly clear, because marijuana doesn't replace the pain relief of opiates. However, it does seem to distract from the pain by making it less bothersome." This research comes at a time when the country is furiously debating the costs and benefits of marijuana use, and opponents of the idea are paying researchers to paint it in an unfavorable light.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








NASA's Competition For Dollars

Slashdot.org - Sht, 30/08/2014 - 9:20md
An anonymous reader writes: We often decry the state of funding to NASA. Its limited scope has kept us from returning to the moon for over four decades, maintained only a minimal presence in low-Earth orbit, and failed to develop a capable asteroid defense system. But why is funding such a problem? Jason Callahan, who has worked on several of NASA's annual budgets, says it's not just NASA's small percentage of the federal budget that keeps those projects on the back burner, but also competition for funding between different parts of NASA as well. "[NASA's activities include] space science, including aeronautics research (the first A in NASA), technology development, education, center and agency management, construction, maintenance, and the entire human spaceflight program. The total space science budget has rarely exceeded $5 billion, and has averaged just over half that amount. Remember that space science is more than just planetary: astrophysics, heliophysics, and Earth science are all funded in this number. Despite this, space science accounts for an average of 17 percent of NASA's total budget, though it has significant fluctuations. In the 1980s, space science was a mere 11 ½ percent of NASA's budget, but in the 2000s, it made up 27 percent."

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Svetlana Belkin: Why do I Use Open Source?

Planet UBUNTU - Sht, 30/08/2014 - 9:03md

I decided to respond to Michael Hall’s post, “Why do you contribute to open source?“, but first I will explain why I use open source and in the next post, I will explain why I contribute to it.  I don’t only use it because it’s almost free to use but for the intuitive sense of things that I see in all of the programs that I use.  This intuitive sense matches up with the way that I think and how I do things.

I have three examples why I use Open Source:

Example One: Evernote Ink Notes vs. Xournal- A Shift in My Workflow

This example is a recent thing that happened to me.  On Monday, August, 25, 2014 (first day of my last school year of my undergrad years), I was able to restore my Nexus 7 2013 back to Android from Ubuntu Touch since Ubuntu Touch wasn’t worth while to use (for now) as a working tablet.  For those who want to know, you need at least 2 GB of RAM to use the ./flash-all.sh command.  I only restored my tablet- meaning that I didn’t brother to install a custom ROM on it (don’t ask me why).  After I restored, I installed the Evernote app and signed in to it.  The hour before I restored my tablet, I was in my eight A.M. class and I took hand-written notes on my netbook, Evernote Ink Notes, and my Wacom Intous 4 pen and tablet.  When I opened the notes on my tablet and they looked horrible!  Not because I have chicken scratch for my handwriting (it does get bad at times) but because it was zoomed in and I had to finger scroll.  I had no way to zoom out.  And the UX of the app is just not fun to use.

After that first use of the Evernote, I decided to go back and use my favorite handwritten note-taking program, Xournal, but with some tweaks.  One of them being all of my notes for one class is be one file, when possible, which is for my eight A.M. class.  The other one is be convert the presentation slides for my second and also last class (I have two this term) into PDF and annotate that PDF.

The only problem with this workflow is that Xournal is X based not Qt based.  That means when Mir and Unity 8 comes out, I won’t be able to use my favorite program!  But maybe I could work with some developers and get some of the features of Xournal into the Reminders app.

Example Two: Open Source has More Intuitive Minds

I have noticed that many of the programs that I use have features that are latter used in non-open source programs.  Who had tabs first in Internet browsers?  Firefox.  Conversion from a word/spreadsheet/presentation to PDF?  OpenOffice.  This goes to show that who are more daring to be more intuitive.

When Unity first introduced back in Ubuntu 11.04, it was hard for me to get used to it at first.  I think it took me maybe two months to tell myself to that is the change can be good.  After I installed 11.04, I saw that Unity increased my productivity.  I found that searching in the Dash of Unity was faster than scrolling and clicking through folders on the menu.  Unity is quiet intuitive to my mind and it was here before Windows 8.  Another example of open source having more intuitive minds.

Example three will be in my next post when I will talk about why I contribute to Open Source.  Most likely, I will have a series of posts about why I’m in the FOSS community and other subjects such as why I blog.

 


Ask Slashdot: Best Phone Apps?

Slashdot.org - Sht, 30/08/2014 - 8:12md
An anonymous reader writes: The phone app ecosystem has matured nicely over the past several years. There are apps for just about everything I need to do on my phone. But I've noticed that once an app fills a particular need, I don't tend to look for newer or potentially better apps that would replace it. In a lot of areas, I'm two or three years out of date — maybe there's something better, maybe not. Since few people relish the thought of installing, testing, and uninstalling literally hundreds of apps, I thought I'd put the question to the Slashdot community: what interesting, useful new(ish) apps are you aware of? This can be anything from incredibly slick, well-designed single purpose apps to powerful multi-function apps to entertainment-oriented apps.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Hidden Obstacles For Google's Self-Driving Cars

Slashdot.org - Sht, 30/08/2014 - 7:01md
Paul Fernhout writes: Lee Gomes at MIT's Technology Review wrote an article on the current limits of Google self-driving car technology: "Would you buy a self-driving car that couldn't drive itself in 99 percent of the country? Or that knew nearly nothing about parking, couldn't be taken out in snow or heavy rain, and would drive straight over a gaping pothole? If your answer is yes, then check out the Google Self-Driving Car, model year 2014. Google often leaves the impression that, as a Google executive once wrote, the cars can 'drive anywhere a car can legally drive.' However, that's true only if intricate preparations have been made beforehand, with the car's exact route, including driveways, extensively mapped. Data from multiple passes by a special sensor vehicle must later be pored over, meter by meter, by both computers and humans. It's vastly more effort than what's needed for Google Maps. ... Among other unsolved problems, Google has yet to drive in snow, and Urmson says safety concerns preclude testing during heavy rains. Nor has it tackled big, open parking lots or multilevel garages. ... Pedestrians are detected simply as moving, column-shaped blurs of pixels — meaning, Urmson agrees, that the car wouldn't be able to spot a police officer at the side of the road frantically waving for traffic to stop."

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José Antonio Rey: FOSSETCON in two weeks – See you there!

Planet UBUNTU - Sht, 30/08/2014 - 6:28md

A while ago I posted about FOSSETCON (Free and Open Source Software Expo and Technology Conference), but now the time has come. In less than two weeks the conference will be taking place, and I cannot wait to fly over there!

FOSSETCON will start on Thursday, September 11th with day 0. We will have an Ubucon the whole day! Panels, workshops, make sure you don’t miss it. I’ll be flying during that day and hope I can get there at least for the last session.

During the 12th and 13th there will be an expo hall, as well as several talks! I will be with the Ubuntu Florida LoCo Team in the Ubuntu booth. Make sure to visit us there if you want to take a look at the Ubuntu phones and tablets, and maybe get some swag? Who knows.

On the other hand, I will be hosting a 40-minute Juju Charm School during day 1 (September 12th) at 10:30am local time. Make sure to attend if you wanna get a glimpse of what’s up with Juju and all the things you can do with it, including a bit of development.

In case you’re wondering. Yes, I will have the so-loved Orange Box! If you want to see it in action or just give it a hug, make sure to go to FOSSETCON!

You can buy your tickets for FOSSETCON by clicking here. There are three ticket options: the Training Pass, the Conference Pass and the Supporter Pass. You can find more information about each ticket type on the link.

Also, if you have already got your copy of the Official Ubuntu Book, 8th edition and want me to sign it for you, I will be more than happy to.

Don’t be shy and say hi, maybe we can grab a coffee after conference hours. See you all there!


Reformatting a Machine 125 Million Miles Away

Slashdot.org - Sht, 30/08/2014 - 5:54md
An anonymous reader writes: NASA's Opportunity rover has been rolling around the surface of Mars for over 10 years. It's still performing scientific observations, but the mission team has been dealing with a problem: the rover keeps rebooting. It's happened a dozen times this month, and the process is a bit more involved than rebooting a typical computer. It takes a day or two to get back into operation every time. To try and fix this, the Opportunity team is planning a tricky operation: reformatting the flash memory from 125 million miles away. "Preparations include downloading to Earth all useful data remaining in the flash memory and switching the rover to an operating mode that does not use flash memory. Also, the team is restructuring the rover's communication sessions to use a slower data rate, which may add resilience in case of a reset during these preparations." The team suspects some of the flash memory cells are simply wearing out. The reformat operation is scheduled for some time in September.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Judge Allows L.A. Cops To Keep License Plate Reader Data Secret

Slashdot.org - Sht, 30/08/2014 - 4:45md
An anonymous reader writes: A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ruled that the Los Angeles Police Department is not required to hand over a week's worth of license plate reader data to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). He cited the potential of compromising criminal investigations and giving (un-charged) criminals the ability to determine whether or not they were being targeted by law enforcement (PDF). The ACLU and the EFF sought the data under the California Public Records Act, but the judge invoked Section 6254(f), "which protects investigatory files." ACLU attorney Peter Bibring notes, "New surveillance techniques may function better if people don't know about them, but that kind of secrecy is inconsistent with democratic policing."

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Timm Bäder: Final GSOC Report: Snapshots in Gnome Boxes

Planet GNOME - Sht, 30/08/2014 - 4:15md
So, finally here's my final GSOC report about the snapshot suppport in Gnome Boxes.

After getting a freeze break approved, we could finally push all the patches yesterday. Luckily all the libvirt-glib patches have been merged before any freeze or release so if you update libvirt-glib and Boxes right now, there should be a "snapshots" page in the properties of every VM.


I'm currently looking into ironing out some of the rough edges that have been missed during the development/review like the fact that it's impossible to use snaphots on an old VM made with Boxes 3.12. 
So if you want to give it a shot, make sure to file bugs for all the problems or ask in #boxes about it.
Since this will most likely be my last blog post here, I'd like to take the chance to thank my Zeeshan Ali and Christophe Fergeau for patiently reviewing my patches and answering my questions, was well as the entire GNOME team for giving me this opportunity.

Scientists Found the Origin of the Ebola Outbreak

Slashdot.org - Sht, 30/08/2014 - 3:38md
Taco Cowboy sends this report from Vox: One of the big mysteries in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is where the virus came from in the first place — and whether it's changed in any significant ways. ... In a new paper in Science (abstract), researchers reveal that they have sequenced the genomes of Ebola from 78 patients in Sierra Leone who contracted the disease in May and June. Those sequences revealed some 300 mutations specific to this outbreak. Among their findings, the researchers discovered that the current viral strains come from a related strain that left Central Africa within the past ten years. ... Using genetic sequences from current and previous outbreaks, the researchers mapped out a family tree that puts a common ancestor of the recent West African outbreak some place in Central Africa roughly around 2004. This contradicts an earlier hypothesis that the virus had been hanging around West Africa for much longer than that. Researchers are also planning to study the mutations to see if any of them are affecting Ebola's recent behavior. For example, this outbreak has had a higher transmission rate and lower death rate than others, and researchers are curious if any of these mutations are related to that. ... The scientific paper on Ebola is also a sad reminder of the toll that the virus has taken on those working on the front lines. Five of the authors died of Ebola before it was published.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








MIPS Tempts Hackers With Raspbery Pi-like Dev Board

Slashdot.org - Sht, 30/08/2014 - 2:27md
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "In a bid to harness the energy and enthusiasm swirling around today's open, hackable single board computers, Imagination Technologies, licensor of the MIPS ISA, has unveiled the Creator C120 development board, the ISA's counter to ARM's popular Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black SBCs. The MIPS dev board is based on a 1.2GHz dual-core MIPS32 system-on-chip and has 1GB RAM and 8GB flash, and there's also an SD card slot for expansion. Ports include video, audio, Ethernet, both WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, and a bunch more. OS images are already available for Debian 7, Gentoo, Yocto, and Arch Linux, and Android v4.4 is expected to be available soon. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the board is that there's no pricing listed yet, because the company is starting out by giving the boards away free to developers who submit the most interesting projects."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Dell's New Alienware Case Goes to Extremes To Prevent Overheating

Slashdot.org - Sht, 30/08/2014 - 12:44md
MojoKid writes Dell's enthusiast Alienware brand has always stood out for its unique, other-worldly looks (sometimes good, sometimes, not so good) and there's such a thing as taking things to the next level, this might be it. However, there's more to this refresh than just shock value. It's actually a futuristic aesthetic with a rather purposeful design behind it. Today Alienware gave a sneak peek at their completely redesigned Alienware Area 51 desktop system. This refreshed system is unlike any previous Alienware rig you've seen. With a trapezoidal shape to its chassis, Dell-Alienware says you can place the Area-51 against a wall and not have to worry about thermals getting out of the control. That's because there's a controlled gap and a sharp angle to the chassis that ensures only a small part of the system actually rests near the wall, leaving extra room for hot air to escape up and away. This design also offers users easy access to rear IO ports. Despite the unique design, there's plenty of room for high end components inside. The retooled chassis can swallow up to three 300W double-wide full-length graphics cards. It also brings to the table Intel's latest and greatest Haswell-E in six-core or eight-core options, liquid cooled and nestled into Intel's X99 chipset. No word from Dell on the price but the new Area-51 is slated to start shipping in October.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Watch UK Inventor Colin Furze Survive a Fireworks Blast In a Metal Suit

Slashdot.org - Sht, 30/08/2014 - 11:28pd
Nerval's Lobster writes Labor Day is nigh, and with it the official end of summer. It's time to pack away the umbrellas and beach towels, and perhaps spend a few minutes flipping through photos of all the fun times you had over the past couple months: the grilling, the trips, the fireworks oh yes, the fireworks Chances are pretty good that you've set off more than a few fireworks in your time. But Colin Furze, the British inventor and YouTube celebrity who once co-hosted Sky1's Gadget Geeks? Well, he puts everybody's love of fireworks to shame. He loves fireworks so much, in fact, that he built a giant metal suit so he could stand in the middle of an epic pyrotechnic display. No matter how good your own engineering skills (or strong your courage), it's inadvisable to try this at home. But it's sure fun to watch.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Hal Finney, PGP and Bitcoin Pioneer, Dies At 58

Slashdot.org - Sht, 30/08/2014 - 9:02pd
New submitter brokenin2 writes Hal Finney, the number two programmer for PGP and the first person to receive a Bitcoin transaction, has passed away. From the article on Coindesk: "Shortly after collaborating with Nakamoto on early bitcoin code in 2009, Finney announced he was suffering from ALS. Increasing paralysis, which eventually became near-total, forced him to retire from work in early 2011."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Google Introduces HTML 5.1 Tag To Chrome

Slashdot.org - Sht, 30/08/2014 - 6:20pd
darthcamaro (735685) writes "Forget about HTML5, that's already passe — Google is already moving on to HTML5.1 support for the upcoming Chrome 38 release. Currently only a beta, one of the biggest things that web developers will notice is the use of the new "picture" tag which is a container for multiple image sizes/formats. Bottom line is it's a new way to think about the "IMG" tag that has existed since the first HTML spec."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








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