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Bug

Software Glitch Caused 911 Outage For 11 Million People 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the off-by-911-error dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Brian Fung reports at the Washington Post that earlier this year emergency services went dark for over six hours for more than 11 million people across seven states. "The outage may have gone unnoticed by some, but for the more than 6,000 people trying to reach help, April 9 may well have been the scariest time of their lives." In a 40-page report (PDF), the FCC found that an entirely preventable software error was responsible for causing 911 service to drop. "It could have been prevented. But it was not," the FCC's report reads. "The causes of this outage highlight vulnerabilities of networks as they transition from the long-familiar methods of reaching 911 to [Internet Protocol]-supported technologies."

On April 9, the software responsible for assigning the identifying code to each incoming 911 call maxed out at a pre-set limit; the counter literally stopped counting at 40 million calls. As a result, the routing system stopped accepting new calls, leading to a bottleneck and a series of cascading failures elsewhere in the 911 infrastructure. Adm. David Simpson, the FCC's chief of public safety and homeland security, says having a single backup does not provide the kind of reliability that is ideal for 911. "Miami is kind of prone to hurricanes. Had a hurricane come at the same time [as the multi-state outage], we would not have had that failover, perhaps. So I think there needs to be more [distribution of 911 capabilities]."
Software

Xerox Alto Source Code Released To Public 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the history-revealed dept.
zonker writes: In 1970, the Xerox Corporation established the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) with the goal to develop an "architecture of information" and lay the groundwork for future electronic office products. The pioneering Alto project that began in 1972 invented or refined many of the fundamental hardware and software ideas upon which our modern devices are based, including raster displays, mouse pointing devices, direct-manipulation user interfaces, windows and menus, the first WYSIWYG word processor, and Ethernet.

The first Altos were built as research prototypes. By the fall of 1976 PARC's research was far enough along that a Xerox product group started to design products based on their prototypes. Ultimately, ~1,500 were built and deployed throughout the Xerox Corporation, as well as at universities and other sites. The Alto was never sold as a product but its legacy served as inspiration for the future.

With the permission of the Palo Alto Research Center, the Computer History Museum is pleased to make available, for non-commercial use only, snapshots of Alto source code, executables, documentation, font files, and other files from 1975 to 1987. The files are organized by the original server on which they resided at PARC that correspond to files that were restored from archive tapes. An interesting look at retro-future.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Aging and Orphan Open Source Projects? 136

Posted by Soulskill
from the try-craigslist dept.
osage writes: Several colleagues and I have worked on an open source project for over 20 years under a corporate aegis. Though nothing like Apache, we have a sizable user community and the software is considered one of the de facto standards for what it does. The problem is that we have never been able to attract new, younger programmers, and members of the original set have been forced to find jobs elsewhere or are close to retirement. The corporation has no interest in supporting the software. Thus, in the near future, the project will lose its web site host and be devoid of its developers and maintainers. Our initial attempts to find someone to adopt the software haven't worked. We are looking for suggestions as to what course to pursue. We can't be the only open source project in this position.
Data Storage

Samsung Acknowledges and Fixes Bug On 840 EVO SSDs 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-presented-on-a-platter dept.
Lucas123 writes: Samsung has issued a firmware fix for a bug on its popular 840 EVO triple-level cell SSD. The bug apparently slows read performance tremendously for any data more than a month old that has not been moved around on the NAND. Samsung said in a statement that the read problems occurred on its 2.5-in 840 EVO SSDs and 840 EVO mSATA drives because of an error in the flash management software algorithm. Some users on technical blog sites, such as Overclock.net, say the problem extends beyond the EVO line. They also questioned whether the firmware upgrade was a true fix or if it just covers up the bug by moving data around the SSD.
Software

Ask Slashdot: Event Sign-Up Software Options For a Non-Profit? 102

Posted by timothy
from the which-con-do-you-mean? dept.
New submitter don_e_b writes I have been asked by a non-profit to help them gather a team of volunteer developers, who they wish to have write an online volunteer sign-up site. This organization has a one large event per year with roughly 1400 volunteers total.I have advised them to investigate existing online volunteer offerings, and they can afford to pay for most that I've found so far. In the past two years, they have used a site written by a volunteer that has worked fine for them, but that volunteer is unavailable to maintain or enhance his site this year. They believe the existing online volunteer sign-up sites are not quite right — they feel they have very specific sign-up needs, and can not picture using anything other than their own custom software solution. I am convinced it's a mistake for this non-profit to create a software development team from a rotating pool of volunteers to write software upon which it is critically dependent. How would you convince them to abandon their plan to dive into project management and use an existing solution?
Encryption

Security Company Tries To Hide Flaws By Threatening Infringement Suit 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-that-always-ends-well dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An RFID-based access control system called IClass is used across the globe to provide physical access controls. This system relies on cryptography to secure communications between a tag and a reader. Since 2010, several academic papers have been released which expose the cryptographic insecurity of the IClass system. Based on these papers, Martin Holst Swende implemented the IClass ciphers in a software library, which he released under the GNU General Public License.

The library is useful to experiment with and determine the security level of an access control system (that you own or have explicit consent to study). However, last Friday, Swende received an email from INSIDE Secure, which notified him of (potential) intellectual property infringement, warning him off distributing the library under threat of "infringement action." Interestingly, it seems this is not the first time HID Global has exerted legal pressure to suppress information.
China

China Staging a Nationwide Attack On iCloud and Microsoft Accounts 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the secure-browsing-advised dept.
New submitter DemonOnIce writes: According to The Verge and an original report from the site that monitor's China's Great Firewall activity, China is conducting a large-scale attack on iCloud and Microsoft accounts using its government firewall software. Chinese users may be facing an unpleasant surprise as they are directed to a dummy site designed to look like an Apple login page (or a Microsoft one, as appropriate).
Software

GNU Emacs 24.4 Released Today 152

Posted by timothy
from the please-have-more-than-8-megs-of-RAM dept.
New submitter Shade writes Well over one and a half years in the works, the latest and greatest release of GNU Emacs was made officially available today. Highlights of this release include a built-in web browser, improved multi-monitor and fullscreen support, "electric" indentation enabled by default, support for saving and restoring the state of frames and windows, pixel-based resizing for frames and windows, support for digitally signed ELisp packages, support for menus in text terminals, and much more. Read the official announcement and the full list of changes for more information.
Open Source

Help ESR Stamp Out CVS and SVN In Our Lifetime 241

Posted by timothy
from the for-the-child-processes dept.
mtaht writes ESR is collecting specifications and donations towards getting a new high end machine to be used for massive CVS and SVN repository conversions, after encountering problems with converting the whole of netbsd over to git. What he's doing now sort of reminds me of holding a bake sale to build a bomber, but he's well on his way towards Xeon class or higher for the work. What else can be done to speed up adoption of git and preserve all the computer history kept in source code repositories? ESR says he'll match funds toward the purchase of the needed hardware, so if you want to help drive him into bankruptcy, now's your chance.
The Almighty Buck

Developers, IT Still Racking Up (Mostly) High Salaries 191

Posted by timothy
from the money-goes-further-if-you-live-in-omaha dept.
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes Software development and IT remain common jobs among those in the higher brackets, although not the topmost one, according to a new study (with graph) commissioned by NPR. Among those earning between $58,000 and $72,000, IT was the sixth-most-popular job, while software developers came in tenth place. In the next bracket up (earning between $72,000 and $103,000), IT rose to third, with software development just behind in fourth place. As incomes increased another level ($103,000 to $207,000), software developers did even better, coming in second behind managers, although IT dropped off the list entirely. In the top percentile ($207,000 and above), neither software developers nor IT staff managed to place; this is a segment chiefly occupied by physicians (in first place), managers, chief executives, lawyers, and salespeople who are really good at their jobs. In other words, it seems like a good time to be in IT, provided you have a particular skillset. If those high salaries are in Silicon Valley or New York, though, they might not seem as high as half the same rate would in Omaha, or Houston, or Raleigh.
Debian

Ubuntu Turns 10 110

Posted by timothy
from the ten-years-is-a-long-time dept.
Scott James Remnant, now Technical Lead on ChromeOS, was a Debian developer before that. That's how he became involved from the beginning (becoming Developer Manager, and then serving on the Technical Board) on the little derivative distribution that Mark Shuttleworth decided to make of Debian Unstable, and for which the name Ubuntu was eventually chosen. On this date in 2004, Ubuntu 4.10 -- aka Warty Warthog, or just Warty -- was released, and Remnant has shared a detailed, nostalgic look back at the early days of the project that has (whatever else you think of it ) become one of the most influential in the world of open source and Free software. I was excited that Canonical sent out disks that I could pass around to friends and family that looked acceptably polished to them in a way that Sharpie-marked Knoppix CD-ROMs didn't, and that the polish extended to the installer, the desktop, and the included constellation of software, too.
Network

Ask Slashdot: LTE Hotspot As Sole Cellular Connection? 105

Posted by timothy
from the points-of-contact dept.
New submitter iamacat writes I am thinking of canceling my regular voice plan and using an LTE hotspot for all my voice and data needs. One big draw is ability to easily use multiple devices without expensive additional lines or constantly swapping SIMs. So I can have an ultra compact Android phone and an iPod touch and operate whichever has the apps I feel like using. Or, if I anticipate needing more screen real estate, I can bring only a Nexus 7 or a laptop and still be able to make and receive VoIP calls. When I am home or at work, I would be within range of regular WiFi and not need to eat into the data plan or battery life of the hotspot.

Has anyone done something similar? Did the setup work well? Which devices and VoIP services did you end up using? How about software for automatic WiFi handoffs between the hotspot and regular home/work networks?
Education

Be True To Your CS School: LinkedIn Ranks US Schools For Job-Seeking Programmers 128

Posted by timothy
from the needs-internationalizing dept.
theodp writes "The Motley Fool reports that the Data Scientists at LinkedIn have been playing with their Big Data, ranking schools based on how successful recent grads have been at landing desirable software development jobs. Here's their Top 25: CMU, Caltech, Cornell, MIT, Princeton, Berkeley, Univ. of Washington, Duke, Michigan, Stanford, UCLA, Illinois, UT Austin, Brown, UCSD, Harvard, Rice, Penn, Univ. of Arizona, Harvey Mudd, UT Dallas, San Jose State, USC, Washington University, RIT. There's also a shorter list for the best schools for software developers at startups, which draws a dozen schools from the previously mentioned schools, and adds Columbia, Univ. of Virginia, and Univ. of Maryland College Park. If you're in a position to actually hire new graduates, how much do you care about applicants' alma maters?
Programming

The One App You Need On Your Resume If You Want a Job At Google 204

Posted by timothy
from the surprisingly-it's-not-I-am-Rich dept.
HughPickens.com writes Jim Edwards writes at Business Insider that Google is so large and has such a massive need for talent that if you have the right skills, Google is really enthusiastic to hear from you — especially if you know how to use MatLab, a fourth-generation programming language that allows matrix manipulations, plotting of functions and data, implementation of algorithms, creation of user interfaces, and interfacing with programs written in other languages, including C, C++, Java, Fortran and Python. The key is that data is produced visually or graphically, rather than in a spreadsheet. According to Jonathan Rosenberg , Google's former senior vice president for product management, being a master of statistics is probably your best way into Google right now and if you want to work at Google, make sure you can use MatLab. Big data — how to create it, manipulate it, and put it to good use — is one of those areas in which Google is really enthusiastic about. The sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians. When every business has free and ubiquitous data, the ability to understand it and extract value from it becomes the complimentary scarce factor. It leads to intelligence, and the intelligent business is the successful business, regardless of its size. Rosenberg says that "my quote about statistics that I didn't use but often do is, 'Data is the sword of the 21st century, those who wield it the samurai.'"
Privacy

How Whisper Tracks Users Who Don't Share Their Location 39

Posted by timothy
from the we'll-just-share-it-for-you dept.
blottsie (3618811) writes "On Thursday, the Guardian reported that secret-sharing app Whisper was tracking users' locations even when they opt-out of sharing their location. [See also this earlier, related story.] Whisper has denied the accusations—but this may be a matter of semantics. Whisper allegedly uses an outdated version of GeoIP by MaxMind, which uses your IP address to estimate your location on a map. Whisper's Chad DePue said in a comment on Hacker News that the tool is "so inaccurate as to be laughable," suggesting that determining something as broad as your country or state won't bother the basic user (and he could be right, but what is and isn't an upsetting degree of user information is another argument entirely)."
Networking

Kickstarter Cancels Anonabox Funding Campaign 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the almost-before-it-began dept.
An anonymous reader writes: On Friday, the controversy surrounding Anonabox reached its zenith with Kickstarter officially canceling the project's funding campaign. Anonabox began with a modest goal of $7,500, but quickly reached its goal 82 times over. Then funders and interested parties began to scrutinize the project's claims, and that's when the project ran into trouble. From hardware that wasn't actually custom-made to software that didn't actually fulfill promises of privacy-focused routing on the internet, the facts regarding Anonabox proved that it was in blatant violation of Kickstarter's rules against false advertising. This project clearly failed, but if the support it initially garnered is any indication, the public is hungry for easy-to-use technology that encrypts and anonymizes all personal internet traffic.
Software

Lead Mir Developer: 'Mir More Relevant Than Wayland In Two Years' 225

Posted by Soulskill
from the display-battle-brewing dept.
M-Saunders writes Canonical courted plenty of controversy with it announced Mir, its home-grown display server. But why did the company choose to go it alone, and not collaborate with the Wayland project? Linux Voice has an interview with Thomas Voss, Mir's lead developer. Voss explains how Mir came into being, what it offers, and why he believes it will outlast Wayland.
Databases

Python-LMDB In a High-Performance Environment 98

Posted by Soulskill
from the fast-enough-to-cause-drama dept.
lkcl writes: In an open letter to the core developers behind OpenLDAP (Howard Chu) and Python-LMDB (David Wilson) is a story of a successful creation of a high-performance task scheduling engine written (perplexingly) in Python. With only partial optimization allowing tasks to be executed in parallel at a phenomenal rate of 240,000 per second, the choice to use Python-LMDB for the per-task database store based on its benchmarks, as well as its well-researched design criteria, turned out to be the right decision. Part of the success was also due to earlier architectural advice gratefully received here on Slashdot. What is puzzling, though, is that LMDB on Wikipedia is being constantly deleted, despite its "notability" by way of being used in a seriously-long list of prominent software libre projects, which has been, in part, motivated by the Oracle-driven BerkeleyDB license change. It would appear that the original complaint about notability came from an Oracle employee as well.
Programming

Mixing Agile With Waterfall For Code Quality 133

Posted by Soulskill
from the cats-and-dogs-living-together dept.
jones_supa writes: The 2014 CAST Research on Application Software Health (CRASH) report states that enterprise software built using a mixture of agile and waterfall methods will result in more robust and secure applications than those built using either agile or waterfall methods alone. Data from CAST's Appmarq benchmarking repository was analyzed to discover global trends in the structural quality of business application software. The report explores the impact of factors such as development method, CMMI maturity level, outsourcing, and other practices on software quality characteristics that are based upon good architectural and coding practices. InfoQ interviewed Bill Curtis, Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist at CAST, about the research done by CAST, structural quality factors, and mixing agile and waterfall methods.
DRM

Mozilla Teams Up With Humble Bundle To Offer Eight Plugin-Free Games 67

Posted by samzenpus
from the stay-inside-and-play dept.
An anonymous reader writes Mozilla and Humble Bundle announced a new package that features award-winning indie best-sellers for which gamers can choose how much they want to pay. Naturally called the Humble Mozilla Bundle, the package consists of eight games that have been ported to the Web. The first five games (Super Hexagon, AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! for the Awesome, Osmos, Zen Bound 2, and Dustforce DX) can cost you whatever you want. The next two (Voxatron and FTL: Faster Than Light) can be had if you beat the average price for the bundle. You can pay $8 or more to receive all of the above, plus the last game, Democracy 3. Previously, all of these indie games were available only on PC or mobile. Now they all work in browsers on Windows, Mac, and Linux without having to install any plugins.

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