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Businesses

Kenya's iHub Creates Accelerator Program For Tech-Hardware Entrepreneurs 13

An anonymous reader writes: The iHub in Nairobi has long been at the epicentre of tech developments in Africa, and has been lauded by both Barack Obama and Satya Nadella in recent weeks. It currently has about 3000 software devs registered as members, but since last year has been building a makerspace for hardware entrepreneurs, too. Gearbox, as its called, it's just launched its first incubation program with the backing of Village Capital, offering $100,000 in investment opportunities for 12 entrepreneurs through a three month program. According to the organisers, it's the first of its kind on the continent. (It's certainly not the first hackerspace in Africa, though -- even in 2012, there were quite a few.)
Math

Ten Dropbox Engineers Build BSD-licensed, Lossless 'Pied Piper' Compression Algorithm 146

An anonymous reader writes: In Dropbox's "Hack Week" this year, a team of ten engineers built the fantasy Pied Piper algorithm from HBO's Silicon Valley, achieving 13% lossless compression on Mobile-recorded H.264 videos and 22% on arbitrary JPEG files. Their algorithm can return the compressed files to their bit-exact values. According to FastCompany, "Its ability to compress file sizes could actually have tangible, real-world benefits for Dropbox, whose core business is storing files in the cloud."The code is available on GitHub under a BSD license for people interested in advancing the compression or archiving their movie files.
Privacy

Ashley Madison CEO Steps Down, Reporter Finds Clues To Hacker's Identity 186

Dave Knott writes: Following the recent hacks on the infidelity website Ashley Madison, Noel Biderman has stepped down as CEO of both AshleyMadison.com and its parent company. Avid Life Media Inc., the company that owns the site and many others, announced Biderman's move in a short press release on Friday: "Noel Biderman, in mutual agreement with the company, is stepping down as chief executive officer of Avid Life Media Inc. (ALM) and is no longer with the company. Until the appointment of a new CEO, the company will be led by the existing senior management team." Before the data hack, the company was planning an IPO in London that would have taken in as much as $200 million from investors. According to regulatory filings, the company had $115 million in revenue last year, more than four times the amount it obtained in 2009.

Meanwhile, in related news, Brian Krebs (the reporter who first uncovered the hack) says he has uncovered clues to the possible identity of the hacker. Krebs says he noticed the Twitter account operated by a known hacker recently posted a link to Ashley Madison's stolen proprietary source code before it was made public. Intrigued by the poster's apparent access, he examined the account's posting history and noticed a predilection for the music of Australian hard rock band AC/DC. This jibes with the behavior of the hacker(s), who had displayed threatening messages on the computers of Ashley Madison employees, accompanied by AC/DC song Thunderstruck. In a series of tweets, the owner of the account, one Thadeus Zu, appears to deny that he was behind the hack, and indeed makes several suggestions that the account itself isn't even run by one person, but is instead an amalgam of like-minded digital vigilantes.
The NY Times also reports that people whose details were contained in the leak are beginning to face threats of blackmail.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Advice On Enterprise Architect Position 190

dave562 writes: I could use some advice from the community. I have almost 20 years of IT experience, 5 of it with the company I am currently working for. In my current position, the infrastructure and applications that I am responsible for account for nearly 80% of the entire IT infrastructure of the company. In broad strokes our footprint is roughly 60 physical hosts that run close to 1500 VMs and a SAN that hosts almost 4PB of data. The organization is a moderate sized (~3000 employees), publicly traded company with a nearly $1 billion market value (recent fluctuations not withstanding).

I have been involved in a constant struggle with the core IT group over how to best run the operations. They are a traditional, internal facing IT shop. They have stumbled through a private cloud initiative that is only about 30% realized. I have had to drag them kicking and screaming into the world of automated provisioning, IaaS, application performance monitoring, and all of the other IT "must haves" that a reasonable person would expect from a company of our size. All the while, I have never had full access to the infrastructure. I do not have access to the storage. I do not have access to the virtualization layer. I do not have Domain Admin rights. I cannot see the network.

The entire organization has been ham strung by an "enterprise architect" who relies on consultants to get the job done, but does not have the capability to properly scope the projects. This has resulted in failure after failure and a broken trail of partially implemented projects. (VMware without SRM enabled. EMC storage hardware without automated tiering enabled. Numerous proof of concept systems that never make it into production because they were not scoped properly.)

After 5 years of succeeding in the face of all of these challenges, the organization has offered me the Enterprise Architect position. However they do not think that the position should have full access to the environment. It is an "architecture" position and not a "sysadmin" position is how they explained it to me. That seems insane. It is like asking someone to draw a map, without being able to actually visit the place that needs to be mapped.

For those of you in the community who have similar positions, what is your experience? Do you have unfettered access to the environment? Are purely architectural / advisory roles the norm at this level?
Space

ISRO Successfully Launches Satellite Into Geostationary Orbit 82

vasanth writes: Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) on Thursday cleared all doubts on its cryogenic capabilities, successfully launching the Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D6), placing GSAT-6, a 2,117kg communication satellite in orbit. The GSLV D-6 is the second consecutive successful launch of the GSLV series with indigenous cryogenic upper stage. ISRO had on January 5, 2014 launched GSLV D-5, after a similar attempt failed in 2010. For the country, ISRO perfecting the cryogenic engine technology is crucial, as precious foreign exchange can be saved by launching communication satellites on its own. Currently ISRO flies its heavy communication satellites by European space agency Ariane. ISRO has already perfected its Polar Launching Vehicle for launching lighter satellites, with decades of success stories. It has already put 45 foreign satellites of 9 nations into orbit. ISRO is to put 9 satellites in space using the PSLV launcher for the United States in 2015-2016.
Advertising

Inside the Booming, Unhinged, and Dangerous Malvertising Menace 226

mask.of.sanity writes: The Register has a feature on the online malicious advertising (malvertising) menace that has become an explosively potent threat to end-user security on the internet. Experts say advertising networks and exchanges need to vet their customers, and publishers need to vet the third party content they display. Users should also consider script and ad blockers in the interim. From the article: "Ads as an attack vector was identified in 2007 when security responders began receiving reports of malware hitting user machines as victims viewed online advertisements. By year's end William Salusky of the SANS Internet Storms Centre had concocted a name for the attacks. Since then malvertising has exploded. This year it increased by more than 260 percent on the previous year, with some 450,000 malicious ads reported in the first six months alone, according to numbers by RiskIQ. Last year, security firm Cyphort found a 300 percent increase in malvertising. In 2013, the Online Trust Alliance logged a more than 200 percent increase in malvertising incidents compared to 2012, serving some 12.4 billion malvertisement impressions."
Cellphones

Former Apple CEO Creates an iPhone Competitor 125

An anonymous reader links to Fast Company's profile of Obi Worldphone, one-time Apple CEO John Sculley's venture into smartphones. The company's first two products (both reasonably spec'd, moderately priced Android phones) are expected to launch in October. And though the phones are obviously running a different operating system than Apple's, Sculley says that Obi is a similarly design-obsessed company: "The hardest part of the design was not coming up with cool-looking designs," Sculley says. "It was sweating the details over in the Chinese factories, who just were not accustomed to having this quality of finish, all of these little details that make a beautiful design. We had teams over in China, working for months on the floor every day. We intend to continue that process and have budgeted accordingly." Obi is also trying to set itself apart from the low-price pack by cutting deals for premium parts. "Instead of going directly to the Chinese factories, we went to the key component vendors, because we know that ecosystem and have the relationships," Sculley says. "We went to Sony. It’s struggling and losing money on its smartphone business, but they make the best camera modules in the world."
Moon

You Can Now Be "Buried" On the Moon 72

Dave Knott writes: Space burials are longer the stuff of science fiction (and wealthy science fiction TV show creators.) The cremated remains of more than 450 people have been shot into orbit. Yet, despite the promise of space being a unique "resting place," almost every tiny vial of remains ever sent there has come back down to Earth or burned up upon re-entry. This wouldn't have happened had the ashes landed on Earth's moon — a fact that hasn't been lost on the companies pioneering this futuristic funeral technology. The San Francisco-based company Elysium Space officially launched its 'lunar memorial' service earlier this month, and will soon be sending the remains of a U.S. Army Infantry Soldier's mother upwards as part of its first ever moon burial.

The company's website further explains how the lunar burials will work: "You receive a kit containing a custom ash capsule to collect a cremated remains sample. After we receive the ash capsule back from you, we place your capsule in the Elysium memorial spacecraft. The latter is eventually integrated to the Astrobotic lander during the designated integration event. From here, the lander is integrated onto the launch vehicle. On launch day, the remains are carried to the moon where the lander will be deployed to its dedicated location, preserving our memorial spacecraft for eternity." Because Elysium can only send a small portion of cremated remains to the moon (less than a gram), participants aren't actually paying to have their loved ones literally buried on the moon. However, this has not deterred the company from launching the service, charging $11,950 per "burial".
Businesses

Will a Tighter Economy Rein In Startups? 106

Nerval's Lobster writes: It's been quite a ride for the stock market this week. In China, markets cratered; in the U.S., stocks dove for two days, only to rebound on Wednesday. That made many tech firms nervous, both about the Chinese economy (which some of them depend upon) and the continuing flow of money from VCs and investors. While the economic jitters don't seem to be affecting some tech firms' ability to implode themselves, more than one pundit is wondering whether the tech industry will shift into 'fear mode,' which could be bad for the so-called 'unicorns' that need funders to keep partying like it's 1999. Are we going to see money start drying up for startups?
Robotics

Video More From Tim O'Reilly about the 'WTF?!' Economy (Videos) 60

More From Tim O'Reilly about the 'WTF?!' Economy (Video) On August 12 we ran two videos of Tim O'Reilly talking with Slashdot's Tim Lord about changes in how we work, what jobs we do, and who profits from advances in labor-saving technology. Tim (O'Reilly, that is) had written an article titled, The WTF Economy, which contained this paragraph:

"What do on-demand services, AI, and the $15 minimum wage movement have in common? They are telling us, loud and clear, that we’re in for massive changes in work, business, and the economy."

We're seeing a shift from cabs to Uber, but what about the big shift when human drivers get replaced by artificial intelligence? Ditto airplane pilots, burger flippers, and some physicians. WTF? Exactly. Once again we have a main video and a second one available only in Flash (sorry about that), along with a text transcript that covers both videos. Good thought-provoking material, even if you think you're so special that no machine could possibly replace you.
Google

Meet YouTube Gaming, Twitch's Archenemy 94

An anonymous reader writes: As expected Google has launched its answer to Twitch, YouTube Gaming available on the web, Android and iOS. Techcrunch reports: "We played with the Android app before the launch, and here's how it works. When you open the app, you are presented with a search bar at the top, a few featured channels at the top and then a feed of the most popular channels. The current featured channels don't focus on esports like most Twitch channels. Right now, you can find a 12-hour stream of NBA 2K15, and official stream of Metal Gear Solid V, a speed run of Until Dawn and an Eve Online live show."
The Internet

Why In-Flight Wi-Fi Is Still Slow and Expensive 192

An anonymous reader writes: Let's grant that having access to the internet while on an airplane is pretty amazing. When airlines first began offering it several years ago, it was agonizingly slow and somewhat pricey as well. Unfortunately, it's only gotten more expensive over the years, and the speeds are still frustrating. This is in part because the main provider of in-flight internet, Gogo, knows most of its regular customers will pay for it, regardless of cost. Business travelers with expense accounts don't care if it's $1 or $10 or $50 — they need to stay connected. Data speeds haven't improved because Gogo says the scale isn't big enough to do much infrastructure investment, and most of the hardware is custom-made. A third of Gogo-equipped planes can manage 10 Mbps, while the rest top out at 3 Mbps. There's hope on the horizon — the company says a new satellite service should enable 70 Mbps per plane by the end of the year — but who knows how much they'll charge for an actual useful connection.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Technical Resources For Non-Technical Disciplines? 87

New submitter nashpt writes: An accountant friend has recently joined a startup looking at developing a web platform. My friend is now dealing with developers directly where he would not have done so previously and feels he is at somewhat of a disadvantage. He asked me if I could advise on how he could get knowledgeable in the relevant technologies, HTML and JavaScript, in order to better interact with their developers. While there are numerous resources available to learn to program both of these, I didn't feel that would be the best approach; if nothing else, because he will have significant constraints on his time. Instead I looked for any primers that focus on technical subjects for non-technical disciplines. I haven't found much I think would be suitable for his needs. I appreciate this is a broad subject but can you recommend any resources that would be suitable in general or specific to these technologies? Do you even agree that this is an appropriate approach or should he look to develop a working knowledge of these languages instead? Any other suggestions on how to approach this?
AT&T

AT&T Hotspots Now Injecting Ads 178

An anonymous reader writes: Computer scientist Jonathan Mayer did some investigating after seeing some unexpected ads while he browsed the web at an airport (Stanford hawking jewelry? The FCC selling shoes?). He found that AT&T's public Wi-Fi hotspot was messing with HTTP traffic, injecting advertisements using a service called RaGaPa. As an HTML pages loads over HTTP, the hotspot adds an advertising stylesheet, injects a simple advertisement image (as a backup), and then injects two scripts that control the loading and display of advertising content. Mayer writes, "AT&T has an (understandable) incentive to seek consumer-side income from its free Wi-Fi service, but this model of advertising injection is particularly unsavory. Among other drawbacks: It exposes much of the user's browsing activity to an undisclosed and untrusted business. It clutters the user's web browsing experience. It tarnishes carefully crafted online brands and content, especially because the ads are not clearly marked as part of the hotspot service.3 And it introduces security and breakage risks, since website developers generally don't plan for extra scripts and layout elements."
The Internet

The Muddy Truth About Kickstarter 'Staff Picks' 50

szczys writes: Crowd Funding is the wild-wild west of business financing, and it's not just the people starting campaigns that are playing without many rules. One of Kickstarter's sort algorithm triggers is the "Staff Pick." Research indicates being featured by Kickstarter staff is a huge predictor for success. But there is no published benchmark for how these are chosen. Oddly, Kickstarter only discourages users from falsely labeling their campaign as a Staff Pick. To protect backers and ensure the crowdfunding ecosystem isn't sullied by scammers, Kickstarter needs to boost their transparency starting with this Staff Pick conundrum.
Businesses

Next Texas Energy Boom: Solar 310

Layzej writes: The Wall Street Journal reports: "Solar power has gotten so cheap to produce—and so competitively priced in the electricity market—that it is taking hold even in a state that, unlike California, doesn't offer incentives to utilities to buy or build sun-powered generation." Falling cost is one factor driving investment. "Another reason for the boom: Texas recently wrapped up construction of $6.9 billion worth of new transmission lines, many connecting West Texas to the state's large cities. These massive power lines enabled Texas to become, by far, the largest U.S. wind producer. Solar developers plan to move electricity on the same lines, taking advantage of a lull in wind generation during the heat of the day when solar output is at its highest."
Businesses

Life With the Dash Button: Good Design For Amazon, Bad For Everyone Else 253

vivaoporto writes: A scathing review published on Fast Company describes Amazon's Dash Button, the "Buy Now" button brought into the physical world as "the latest symptom of Amazon's slowly spreading disease", "an unabashed attempt to disconnect customers from the amount of money we're spending." The author's criticism centers on Amazon's lack of focus on customer experience, a core UI that doesn't make sense, limited and expensive product selection and a store UX "no longer designed for your convenient shopping", but rather "designed for their profitable selling."
Businesses

Comcast Planning Gigabit Cable For Entire US In 2-3 Years 253

An anonymous reader writes: Robert Howald, Comcast's VP of network architecture, said the company is hoping to upgrade its entire cable network within the next two years. The upgraded DOCSIS 3.1 network can support maximum speeds of 10 Gpbs. "Our intent is to scale it through our footprint through 2016," Howald said. "We want to get it across the footprint very quickly... We're shooting for two years."
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: New Employee System Access Tracking? 87

New submitter mushero writes: We are a fast-growing IT services company with dozens of systems, SaaS tools, dev tools and systems, and more that a new employee might need access to. We struggle to track this, both in terms of what systems a given set of roles will need and then has it been done, as different people manage various systems. And of course the reverse when an employee leaves. Every on-boarding or HR system we've looked at has zero support for this; they are great at getting tax info, your home address, etc. but not for getting you a computer nor access to a myriad of systems. I know in a perfect world it'd all be single-sign-on, but not realistic yet and we have many, many SaaS service that will never integrate. So what have you used for this, how do you track new employee access across dozens of systems, hundreds of employees, new hires every day, etc.?
Cloud

Who Makes the Decision To Go Cloud and Who Should? 154

Esther Schindler writes: It's a predictable argument in any IT shop: Should the techies — with their hands on their keyboards — be the people who decide which technology or deployment is right for the company? Or should CIOs and senior management — with their strategic perspective — be the ones to make the call? Ellis Luk got input from plenty of people about management vs. techies making cloud/on-premise decisions... with, of course, a lot of varying in opinion.