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Transportation

Arro Taxi App Arrives In NYC As 'Best Hope' Against Uber 153

An anonymous reader writes with a report at The Stack that "New York City cabs have begun testing a new app-based taxi system in an attempt to win back customers lost to Uber and Lyft." The app is called Arro, and is being trialled in about 7,000 New York cabs. It sticks with metered prices, rather than the demand-based price increases that Uber institutes for times of peak demand. With so many cabs on the road already, the makers boast that Arro will outpace Uber soon. At least based on my limited experience with each, real competition with Uber or Lyft would require some seminars on good customer service.
Math

Ten Dropbox Engineers Build BSD-licensed, Lossless 'Pied Piper' Compression Algorithm 172

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.
Ubuntu

Ubuntu Is the Dominant Cloud OS 166

An anonymous reader writes: According to a new report by Cloud Market, Ubuntu is more than twice as popular on Amazon EC2 as all other operating systems combined. Given that Amazon Web Services has 57% of the public cloud market, Ubuntu is clearly the most popular OS for cloud systems. This is further bolstered by a recent OpenStack survey, which found that more than half of respondents used Ubuntu for cloud-based production environments. Centos was a distant second at 29%, and RHEL came in third at 11%. "In addition to AWS, Ubuntu has been available on HP Cloud, and Microsoft Azure since 2013. It's also now available on Google Cloud Platform, Fujitsu, and Joyent." The article concludes, "People still see Ubuntu as primarily a desktop operating system. It's not — and hasn't been for some time."
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Advice On Enterprise Architect Position 196

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?
Networking

Virgin Media To Base a Public Wi-Fi Net On Paying Customers' Routers 112

An anonymous reader writes with a story that Virgin Media "announced this month its plans to roll out a free public WiFi network this autumn, using subscribers' personal routers and existing infrastructure to distribute the service across UK cities." And while regular customers' routers are to be the basis of the new network, the publicly viewable overlay would operate over "a completely separate connection," and the company claims subscribers' performance will not be hindered. Why, then, would customers bother to pay? For one thing, because the free version is slow: 0.5Mbps, vs. 10Mbps for Virgin's customers.
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.
Earth

Group Seeks Test For Geoengineering Tool To Fight Climate Change 127

An anonymous reader writes: A group of retired engineers and scientists has been meeting for several years to develop techniques to fight climate change. They've now reached the point where they want to actively test a machine that shoots water droplets into the sky in order to supplement existing clouds and increase the planet's albedo. The group is not aiming for full deployment — in fact, it's not even unanimous in support for prevailing theories in climate science. But they all agree that it's important to learn about such technologies before the situation becomes a crisis. "We need to understand whether this approach is even possible and what the risks are, in the event that we find ourselves looking for ways to extend time and mitigate warming damage."

If we're eventually forced to deploy large-scale geoengineering projects to combat climate change, it's not a good idea to grab whatever technology is cheapest or most readily available without knowing how well it works. The group is aware of the ethical concerns surrounding such research, but its director notes, "The fact is humanity is already engaged in unplanned climate engineering. We're doing it through coal plant and shipping emissions every day without understanding it very well."
Cloud

Ubuntu Core Gets Support For Raspberry Pi 2 GPIO and I2C 57

An anonymous reader writes: Ubuntu Core is a tiny Ubuntu distribution aimed at the Internet of Things, using a new transactional packaging format called Snappy rather than the venerable Debian packaging format. It recently gained support for I2C and GPIO on the Raspberry Pi 2, and a quick demo is given here. Ubuntu's Core support site says that the support for Raspberry Pi 2 isn't yet official, but provides some handy tips for anyone who wants to try it out.
Intel

Intel's Collaborative Cancer Cloud, an Open Platform For Genome-Based Treatments 16

Lucas123 writes: Intel and the Knight Cancer Institute have announced what will be an open-source service platform, called the Collaborative Cancer Cloud. The platform will enable healthcare facilities to securely share patient genomic data, radiological imagery and other healthcare-related information for precision treatment analysis. Key to averting HIPAA privacy issues will be Intel's Trusted Execution Technology, its embedded server encryption hardware that tests the authenticity of a platform and its operating system before sharing data. Intel said it will be opening that technology up for use by any clinic that want to take part in the Collaborative Cancer Cloud or to build its own data-sharing network with healthcare partners. Dr. Brian Druker, director of the Knight Cancer Institute, said the Trusted Execution Technology will allow healthcare centers to maintain control of patient data, while also allowing clinics around the world to use it for vastly faster genomic analysis.
Cloud

Startup Builds Prototype For Floating Data Center 96

1sockchuck writes: California startup Nautilus Data Technologies has developed a floating data center that it says can dramatically slash the cost of cooling servers. The company's data barge is being tested near San Francisco, and represents the latest chapter in a long-running effort to develop a water-based data center. Google kicked things off with a 2008 patent for a sea-going data center that would be powered and cooled by waves, conjuring visions of offshore data havens. Google never built it, but IDS soon launched its own effort to convert old Navy vessels into "data ships" before going bankrupt. Nautilus is using barges moored at piers, which allows it to use bay water in its cooling system,eliminating the need for CRAC units and chillers. The company says its offering may benefit from the growing focus on data centers' water use amid California's drought.
Google

Lightning Wipes Storage Disks At Google Data Center 141

An anonymous reader writes: Lightning struck a Google data center in Belgium four times in rapid succession last week, permanently erasing a small amount of users' data from the cloud. The affected disks were part of Google Computer Engine (GCE), a utility that lets people run virtual computers in the cloud on Google's servers. Despite the uncontrollable nature of the incident, Google has accepted full responsibility for the blackout and promises to upgrade its data center storage hardware, increasing its resilience against power outages.
Software

Italian City To Dump OpenOffice For Microsoft After Four Years 316

An anonymous reader writes: Between 2011 and 2014, the municipality of Pesaro, Italy, trained up its 500 employees to use OpenOffice. However, last year the organization decided to switch back to Microsoft and use its cloud productivity suite Office 365. According to a report from Netics Observatory (Google translation of Italian original), the city administration will be able to save up to 80% of the software's total cost of ownership by going back. The savings are largely due to the significant and unexpected deployment costs. In particular, having to repaginate and tweak a number of documents due to a lack of compatibility between the proprietary and the open source systems translated into a considerable waste of time and productivity. The management estimates that every day roughly 300 employees had to spend up to 15 minutes each sorting out such issues.
Bug

Multiple Vulnerabilities Exposed In Pocket 88

vivaoporto writes: Clint Ruoho reports on gnu.gl blog the process of discovery, exploitation and reporting of multiple vulnerabilities in Pocket, the third party web-based service chosen by Mozilla (with some backslash) as the default way to save articles for future reading in Firefox. The vulnerabilities, exploitable by an attacker with only a browser, the Pocket mobile app and access to a server in Amazon EC2 costing 2 cents an hour, would give an attacker unrestricted root access to the server hosting the application.

The entry point was exploiting the service's main functionality itself — adding a server internal address in the "read it later" user list — to retrieve sensitive server information like the /etc/passwd file, its internal IP and the ssh private key needed to connect to it without a password. With this information it would be possible to SSH into the machine from another instance purchased in the same cloud service giving the security researcher unrestricted access. All the vulnerabilities were reported by the researcher to Pocket, and the disclosure was voluntarily delayed for 21 days from the initial report to allow Pocket time to remediate the issues identified. Pocket does not provide monetary compensation for any identified or possible vulnerability.
Businesses

Wuala Encrypted Cloud-Storage Service Shuts Down 128

New submitter craigtp writes: Wuala, one of the more trusted cloud-storage services that employed encryption for your files, is shutting down. Users of the service will have until 15th November 2015 to move all of their files off the service before all of their data is deleted. From the announcement: "Customers who have an active prepaid annual subscription will be eligible to receive a refund for any unused subscription fees. Your refund will be calculated based on a termination date effective from today’s date, even though the full service will remain active until 30 September 2015 and your data will be available until 15 November 2015. Refunds will be automatically processed and issued to eligible customers in coming weeks. Some exceptions apply. Please visit www.wuala.com for more information."
Programming

"Father Time" Gets Another Year At NTP From Linux Foundation 157

dkatana writes: Harlan Stenn, Father Time to some and beleaguered maintainer of the Network Time Protocol (NTP) to others, will stay working for the NTP another year. But there is concern that support will decline as more people believe that NTP works just fine and doesn't need any supervision. NTP is the preeminent time synchronization system for Macs, Windows, and Linux computers and most servers on networks. According to IW, for the last three-and-a-half years, Stenn said he's worked 100-plus hours a week answering emails, accepting patches, rewriting patches to work across multiple operating systems, piecing together new releases, and administering the NTP mailing list. If NTP should get hacked or for some reason stop functioning, hundreds of thousands of systems would feel the consequences. "If that happened, all the critics would say, 'See, you can't trust open source code,'" said Stenn.
IBM

IBM Launches Linux-Only Mainframes 157

An anonymous reader writes: IBM is introducing two mainframe servers that only run on Linux. It's part of a new initiative from the Linux Foundation called the Open Mainframe Project. "The idea is that those companies participating in this project can work together, and begin building a set of open source tools and technologies for Linux mainframes, while helping one another overcome common development issues in the same manner as all open source projects." IBM's hardware release is accompanied by 250,000 lines of code that they're open sourcing as well. "Ultimately the mainframe mainstays are hoping to attract a new generation of developers to their platform. To help coax new users, IBM will be offering free access to the LinuxOne cloud, a mainframe simulation tool it developed for creating, testing and piloting Linux mainframe applications." Canonical is working with IBM to bring Ubuntu to mainframes.
Windows

Windows 10's Privacy Policy: the New Normal? 515

An anonymous reader writes: The launch of Windows 10 brought a lot of users kicking and screaming to the "connected desktop." Its benefits come with tradeoffs: "the online service providers can track which devices are making which requests, which devices are near which Wi-Fi networks, and feasibly might be able to track how devices move around. The service providers will all claim that the data is anonymized, and that no persistent tracking is performed... but it almost certainly could be." There are non-trivial privacy concerns, particularly for default settings.

According to Peter Bright, for better or worse this is the new normal for mainstream operating systems. We're going to have to either get used to it, or get used to fighting with settings to turn it all off. "The days of mainstream operating systems that don't integrate cloud services, that don't exploit machine learning and big data, that don't let developers know which features are used and what problems occur, are behind us, and they're not coming back. This may cost us some amount of privacy, but we'll tend to get something in return: software that can do more things and that works better."
AI

IBM Drops $1 Billion On Medical Images For Watson 53

An anonymous reader writes: IBM is purchasing a company called Merge Healthcare for $1 billion. The company specializes in medical imaging software, and it will be a key new resource for IBM's Watson AI. Big blue's researchers estimate that 90% of all medical data is contained within images. Having a trove of them and the software to mine that data should help Watson learn how to make more accurate diagnoses. IBM thinks it'll also provide better context for run-of-the-mill medical imaging. "[A] radiologist might examine thousands of patient images a day, but only looking for abnormalities on the images themselves rather than also taking into account a person's medical history, treatments and drug regimens." They can program Watson to do both. The AI is already landing contracts to assist with medical issues: "Last week, IBM announced a partnership with CVS Health, the large pharmacy chain, to develop data-driven services to help people with chronic ailments like diabetes and heart disease better manage their health."
Security

Hackers Actively Targeting Gas Pumps 123

An anonymous reader writes: Security researchers from Trend Micro wondered what kind of cyberattacks might target one of our most common and vital pieces of infrastructure: gas pumps. So, they set up some honeypots to find out if and how gas pumps were being attacked. The researchers ended up getting more than they bargained for. Between February and July, there were at least 23 distinct attacks on their honeypots alone (PDF). This included identifications, modifications, and DDoS attacks. "In their research, they found that a DoS or DDoS attack could disrupt inventory control and distribution, which means gas stations may not have enough supply on hand. Changing pump names could result in the wrong fuel being added to a tank—such as putting Unleaded inside Premium, or vice versa. Drivers wouldn't like that. Or changing the pump volume could result in tanks being underfilled."