'First, Let's Get Rid of All the Bosses' -- the Zappos Management Experiment 11

schnell writes: The New Republic is running an in-depth look at online shoe retailer's experiment in a new "boss-less" corporate structure. Three years ago the company introduced a management philosophy that came from the software development world called "Holacracy," in which there are no "people managers" and groups self-organize based on individual creativity and talents. (When the change was announced, 14% of the company's employees chose to leave; middle management openly rebelled, but perhaps surprisingly the tech organization was slowest to embrace the new idea). The article shows that in this radically employee-centric environment, many if not most employees are thrilled and fulfilled, while others worry that self-organization in practical terms means chaos and a Maoist culture of "coercive positivity." Is Zappos the future of the American workplace, a fringe experiment, or something in between?

Windows Phone Store Increasingly Targeted With Fake Mobile Apps 84

An anonymous reader writes: A post by security company Avast says not only are a large amount of fake apps available from the third-party marketplace of the Windows Phone Store, but they also remain available for quite a while despite negative comments and other flags from end-users. Avast speculates that improved security and auditing procedures at rival stores such as Google Play account for the increasing attention that fake app-publishers are giving to the Windows phone app market.

Getting More Women Coders Into Open Source 539

Nerval's Lobster writes: Diversity remains an issue in tech firms across the nation, with executives and project managers publicly upset over a lack of women in engineering and programming roles. While all that's happening on the corporate side, a handful of people and groups are trying to get more women involved in the open source community, like Women of OpenStack, Outreachy (which is geared toward people from underrepresented groups in free software), and others. How much effort should be expended to facilitate diversity among programmers? Can anything be done to shift the demographics, considering the issues that even large, coordinated companies have with altering the collective mix of their employees?

Software Defined Smart Battery Arrays Extend Laptop Life 38

An anonymous reader writes: A Microsoft research paper, titled 'Software Defined Batteries', outlines a radical charging alternative which uses a smart battery system to keep consumer-grade gadgets going for much longer than the current norm, by monitoring user habits. Making use of existing technologies, the engineers place multiple battery control under the duties of the operating system to create a software-defined approach optimized for different scenarios, such as word processing, email or video streaming.

Disproving the Mythical Man-Month With DevOps 270

StewBeans writes: The Mythical Man-Month is a 40-year old theory on software development that many believe still holds true today. It states: "A project that requires five team members to work for five months cannot be completed by a twenty-five person team in one month." Basically, adding manpower to a development project counterintuitively lowers productivity because it increases complexity. Citing the 2015 State of DevOps Report, Anders Wallgren from Electric Cloud says that microservices architecture is proving this decades-old theory wrong, but that there is still some hesitation among IT decision makers. He points out three rookie mistakes to avoid for IT organizations just starting to dip their toes into agile methodologies.

What Effect Will VW's Scandal Have On Robocars? 102

pRobotika writes: It's looking bad for Volkswagen, German car manufacturers and possibly even car manufacturers as a whole. But the revelations that VW put software in their cars to deliberately cheat on emissions tests could have even greater repercussions. Robocars' Brad Templeton looks at the effect for manufacturers of autonomous vehicles. From the Robohub article: "There may be more risk from suppliers of technology for robocars. Sensor manufacturers, for instance, may be untruthful about their abilities or, more likely, reliability. While the integrators will be inherently distrustful, as they will take the liability, one can see smaller vendors telling lies if they see it as the only way to get a big sale for their business."

Twitter Shuts Down JSON API and Names New CEO 100

An anonymous reader writes: This month Twitter is closing down the JSON endpoint API which thousands of third-party software and plugin developers have depended upon for years. The alternative Rest API offers data which is aggregated or limited in other ways, whilst the full-featured share data offered by Gnip (purchased last year by Twitter) can cost developers thousands per month to access — in one case up to £20,000 a month. The general objective seems to be to either drive users back to the core Twitter interface where they can be monetized via the social network's advertising, or to regain lost advertising by converting open source data — currently utilized a lot in scientific research — into premium information, offering the possibility for well-funded organizations to gain reputations as Twitter barometers without ever needing to expose the expensive, accurate share figures. The company also announced today that co-founder Jack Dorsey would be the new CEO.
Hardware Hacking

Sensor Network Makes Life Easier For Japan's Aging Rice Farmers 89

szczys writes: The average age of Japan's rice farmers is 65-70 years old. The work is difficult and even small changes to the way things are done can have a profound impact on these lives. The flooded paddies where the rice is grown must maintain a consistent water level, which means farmers must regularly traverse the terraced fields to check many different paddies. A simple sensor board is changing this, letting farmers check their fields by phone instead of in person.

This might not sound like much, but reducing the number of times someone needs to walk the fields has a big effect on the man-hours spent on each crop. The system, called TechRice, is inexpensive and the nodes recharge batteries from a solar cell. The data is aggregated on the Internet and can be presented as a webpage, a text-message interface, or any other reporting scheme imaginable by utilizing the API of the Open Source software. This is a testament to the power we have as small groups of engineers to improve the world.

OpenIndiana Hipster 2015.10: Keeping an Open-Source Solaris Going 141

An anonymous reader writes: It's been five years since Oracle killed off OpenSolaris while the community of developers are letting it live on with the new OpenIndiana "Hipster" 15.10 release. OpenIndiana 15.10 improves its Python-based text installer as it looks to drop its GUI installer, switches out the Oracle JDK/JRE for OpenJDK, and updates its vast package set. However, there are still a number of outdated packages on the system like Firefox 24 and X.Org Server 1.14 while the default office suite is a broken OpenOffice build, due to various obstacles in maintaining open-source software support for Solaris while being challenged by limited contributors. Download links are available via the release notes. There's also a page for getting involved if wishing to improve the state of open-source Solaris.

Volkswagen Diesel Scandal Logistics Imply Sizable Conspiracy 153

Guinnessy writes with an interesting analysis of the Volkswagen software cheating scandal: Physics Today's Charles Day takes a look at how diesel engines work, and why it's clear it's not just a lone software engineer who came up with the cheat. "...[S]oftware is impotent without hardware. To recognize when a car was being tested and not driven, the defeat device required data from a range of sensors -- sensors that a noncheating car might not need.... Whereas it's conceivable that a single software engineer, directed by a single manager, could have secretly written and uploaded the code that ran the defeat device, installing its associated hardware would require a larger and more diverse team of conspirators," he says.

How Steve Jobs Outsmarted Carly Fiorina 326 writes: Carly Fiorina likes to boast about her friendship with Apple founder Steve Jobs but Fortune Magazine reports that it turns out Carly may have outfoxed of by Apple's late leader. In January 2004, Steve Jobs and Carly Fiorina cut a deal where HP could slap its name on Apple's wildly successful iPod and sell it through HP retail channels but HP still managed to botch things up. The MP3 player worked just like a regular iPod, but it had HP's logo on the back and in return HP agreed to continue pre-loading iTunes onto its PCs. According to Steven Levy soon after the deal with HP was inked, Apple upgraded the iPod, making HP's version outdated and because of Fiorina's deal HP was banned from selling its own music player until August 2006. "This was a highly strategic move to block HP/Compaq from installing Windows Media Store on their PCs," says one Apple source. "We wanted iTunes Music store to be a definitive winner. Steve only did this deal because of that."

In short, Fiorina's "good friend" Steve Jobs blithely mugged her and HP's shareholders. By getting Fiorina to adopt the iPod as HP's music player, Jobs had effectively gotten his software installed on millions of computers for free, stifled his main competitor, and gotten a company that prided itself on invention to declare that Apple was a superior inventor.

Office 2016 Proving Unstable With Apple's El Capitan 137

An anonymous reader writes: Users of Microsoft Office on the Mac are reporting widespread instabilities and conflicts after upgrading to the latest version of the Apple desktop operating system, El Capitan. The first indications that El Capitan and Office 2016 were not working well together came in a now epic thread at Microsoft Community. Many users have surmised that new restrictions in file permissions in El Capitan caused the problems initially, though nearly all agree that Office's Outlook email client is the critical point of failure in the current round of application crashes and loss of functionality.

DARPA Is Looking For Analog Approaches To Cyber Monitoring 41

chicksdaddy writes: Frustrated by adversaries continued success at circumventing or defeating cyber defense and monitoring technologies, DARPA is looking to fund new approaches, including the monitoring of analog emissions from connected devices, including embedded systems, industrial control systems and Internet of Things endpoints, Security Ledger reports.

DARPA is putting $36m to fund the Leveraging the Analog Domain for Security (LADS) Program (PDF). The agency is looking for proposals for "enhanced cyber defense through analysis of involuntary analog emissions," including things like "electromagnetic emissions, acoustic emanations, power fluctuations and thermal output variations." At the root of the program is frustration and a lack of confidence in digital monitoring and protection technologies developed for general purpose computing devices like desktops, laptops and servers.

The information security community's focus on "defense in-depth" approaches to cyber defense are ill suited for embedded systems because of cost, complexity or resource limitations. Even if that were possible, DARPA notes that "attackers have repeatedly demonstrated the ability to pierce protection boundaries, exploiting the fact that any security logic ultimately executes within the same computing unit as the rest of the (compromised) device software and the attacker's code."
GNU is Not Unix

FLIF: Free Lossless Image Format 309

nickweller sends a link to an informational post about FLIF, the Free, Lossless Image Format. It claims to outperform PNG, lossless WebP, and other popular formats on any kind of image. "On photographs, PNG performs poorly while WebP, BPG and JPEG 2000 compress well (see plot on the left). On medical images, PNG and WebP perform relatively poorly while BPG and JPEG 2000 work well (see middle plot). On geographical maps, BPG and JPEG 2000 perform (extremely) poorly while while PNG and WebP work well (see plot on the right). In each of these three examples, FLIF performs well — even better than any of the others." FLIF uses progressive decoding to provide fully-formed lossy images from partial downloads in bandwidth-constrained situations. Best of all, FLIF is free software, released under the GNU GPLv3.

Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 Is Shipping 90

jones_supa writes: Microsoft's mail and calendar server package Exchange Server 2016 is being refreshed and is now out of preview, along with the 2016 revamp for other Office products. The new Exchange tries to simplify the software's architecture while still adding new features and working better with other Office products. You can now use links from Sharepoint 2016 and OneDrive for Business as email attachments, instead of having to upload the actual file, leading to more robust file sharing and editing. Add-ins have been introduced, which allows extensibility similar to extensions on a web browser. Microsoft is providing a 180-day trial for free.

EU Probes TVs Over Energy Test Scores 92

joesreviewss writes: The European Commission says it will follow up on evidence that Samsung and another TV-maker use software that alters their screens' power use during tests. The BBC reports: "One study indicates that some Samsung TVs nearly halve their power consumption when a standardised test is carried out. Another accuses a different unnamed manufacturer of adjusting the brightness of its sets when they "recognise" the test film involved. Samsung has denied any wrongdoing. It acknowledged that it used software that altered its televisions' performance during tests, but said this was the effect of a general energy efficiency feature that came into effect during normal use and had nothing to do with the testing process."

UK Gamers Can Now Get Their Money Back For Publishers' Broken Promises 73

An anonymous reader writes: An amendment to the UK Consumer Rights Act regarding digital-only purchases seems to give British videogamers redress towards publishing houses which deliver buggy code or inveigle consumers to pre-order games based on trailers or betas that demonstrate features, characters or quality not delivered in the RTM release. But the legislation is so loosely worded as to be an invitation to litigation and interpretation, and does not address mis-delivery issues for consumer models such as cloud subscriptions.

Legal Loophole Offers Volkswagen Criminal Immunity 323

An anonymous reader writes: According to the Wall Street Journal (paywalled) a loophole in the 1970 Clean Air Act could make it impossible for U.S. prosecutors to subject Volkswagen to criminal charges over its use of standards-dodging 'defeat devices' in its emissions-testing software. Prosecutors are now reported to be considering alternative methods, including (considerably lesser) charges that Volkswagen lied to regulation authorities.
The Internet

NVIDIA Launches GeForce NOW Game Streaming Service 52

MojoKid writes: NVIDIA has championed game streaming for a number of years now, whether it's from a GeForce GTX-equipped PC to one of its SHIELD devices or from its cloud-based GRID gaming beta service to a SHIELD. Today though, NVIDIA is kicking its game streaming business up a notch by launching a new service dubbed GeForce NOW. The service streams PC games from the cloud to SHIELD devices at up to full HD 1080p resolutions at 60 fps. It may be tempting to call GeForce NOW an official re-branding of its GRID game streaming beta but that is reportedly not the case. The GRID beta is going away with the launch of GeForce NOW (an update will replace the GRID app with GeForce NOW), but according to NVIDIA, GeForce NOW was re-architected from the ground up to provide a better overall experience. NVIDIA sees GeForce NOW as sort of a "Netflix for games." There is a monthly fee of $7.99 for a subscription, which gives customers access to a slew of games. There are too many to list but top notch titles like Batman: Arkham City, Ultra Street Fighter IV, GRID 2 and many others are included. In addition to the games included in the subscriptions price, NVIDIA will also be offering GeForce NOW users access to AAA-titles on the day of release, for a fee. The games will typically be sold at a regular retail prices but not only will users get to play those games via the GeForce NOW streaming service on SHIELD devices, they'll also receive a key for playing the game on a PC as well. To use GeForce NOW you'll need an NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV, SHIELD portable, or SHIELD tablet (with the latest software updates installed) and a SHIELD-approved 5GHz router. Your broadband connection must also offer download speeds of at least 12Mb/s. 20Mb/s is recommended for 720p / 60 FPS quality, and 50Mb/s is recommended for 1080p / 60 FPS.