Security

Video Veteran IT Journalist Worries That Online Privacy May Not Exist (Video) 36 36

Tom Henderson is a long-time observer of the IT scene, complete with scowl and grey goatee. And cynicism. Tom is a world-class cynic, no doubt about it. Why? Cover enterprise IT security and other computing topics long enough for big-time industry publications like ITWorld and its IDG brethren, and you too may start to think that no matter what you do, your systems will always have (virtual) welcome mats in front of them, inviting crackers to come in and have a high old time with your data.

Note: Alert readers have probably noticed that we talked with Tom about cloud security back in March. Another good interview, worth seeing (or reading).
Open Source

Video Meet OpenDaylight Project Executive Director Neela Jacques (Video) 14 14

The OpenDaylight Project works on Software Defined Networking. Their website says, "Software Defined Networking (SDN) separates the control plane from the data plane within the network, allowing the intelligence and state of the network to be managed centrally while abstracting the complexity of the underlying physical network." Another quote: it's the "largest software-defined networking Open Source project to date." The project started in 2013. It now has an impressive group of corporate networking heavyweights as sponsors and about 460 developers working on it. Their latest release, Lithium, came out earlier this month, and development efforts are accelerating, not slowing down, because as cloud use becomes more prevalent, so does SDN, which is an obvious "hand-in-glove" fit for virtualized computing.

Today's interview is with OpenDaylight Project Executive Director Nicolas "Neela" Jacques, who has held this position since the project was not much more than a gleam in (parent) Linux Foundation's eye. This is one of the more important Linux Foundation collaborative software projects, even if it's not as well known to the public as some of the foundation's other efforts, including -- of course -- GNU/Linux itself.
Mars

Interviews: Shaun Moss Answers Your Questions About Mars and Space Exploration 48 48

Recently the founder of the Mars Settlement Research Organization and author of The International Mars Research Station Shaun Moss agreed to sit down and answer any questions you had about space exploration and colonizing Mars. Below you will find his answers to your questions.
Technology

Pocket SCiO Spectrometer Sends Chemical Composition of Anything To Smartphones 82 82

MojoKid writes: Is that a tricorder in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? All joking aside, the handheld SCiO could truly make you feel like a member Bones McCoy's medical team. The SCiO turns science fiction into science fact by shrinking mass spectrometry technology used in traditional lab settings into a device small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. While pricey handheld spectrometers have been available for researchers, the SCiO is the first such device marketed directly at consumers. To get the SCiO down to a reasonable price point, Consumer Physics uses near-IR spectroscopy and optics typically found in smartphones to measure the light reflected from any given object. Held at a distance of 5 to 15 mm from the intended target, SCiO captures reflected spectrum data and uploads it to its own cloud platform. The company's proprietary algorithms then analyze the data and send the information back down to your smartphone (SCiO require a Bluetooth connection). Reportedly, this whole process occurs within 1.5 seconds. The hope is to empower consumers to learn more about the world around them and even about the things that we put in our mouth. You'll be able to ascertain nutritional information about the foods you eat without having to rely on labels, or even determine the ripeness of fruits and vegetables with the push of a button. The Whole Foods crowd will be all over this, one would think.
Microsoft

Microsoft Officially Releases Visual Studio 2015 and .NET 4.6 132 132

rjmarvin writes: Microsoft has announced RTM of Visual Studio 2015, the latest version of its flagship IDE, along with the release of .NET 4.6. The release includes a new set of DevOps services featuring the Build vNext cross-platform build service, the IntelliTest automated unit testing tool, and a Dev/Test service delivered both via the cloud in Visual Studio Online and on-premises through Team Foundation Server. Soma Somasegar, corporate vice president of the developer division at Microsoft, highlighted three main themes Microsoft focused on with VS 2015 in an interview with SD Times: developer productivity, "a holistic set of DevOps services" and giving developers choices when it comes to tooling toward the goal of building Universal Windows Apps for Windows 10. VS 2015 and .NET 4.6 are available here.
Networking

Video How Will IT Workers' Roles Change in the Next Five Years? (Video) 138 138

We asked Sarah Lahav this question. She's founder and CEO of service management and help desk software company SysAid, and a staunch supporter of Sysadmin Appreciation Day, so keeping an eye on the future of IT is essential for her company, her clients, and the friends she's made in her years as an IT person and -- later -- IT service company executive. As she says in the interview, "[Some] people say that the IT person will not exist because everything will go to the cloud. And the other half claims that people from the IT [department] will have new skills. It wouldn’t be the same IT person as we know him now, there will be focus more on firewalls than on fixing computers and stuff like that." Is she right? Is she wrong? Or will changes in IT people's roles be so different from company to company that there is no one right answer?
Networking

Ask Slashdot: VPN Solution To Connect Mixed-Environment Households? 173 173

New submitter RavenLrD20k writes: I am a programmer by trade with a significant amount of training as a Network Administrator (AAS in Computer Networking). I have no problem with how to build three or four separate networks in each location and make them route over the internet. My weakness is in trying to setup a VPN for a secured two-way connection between location A and location B, both mixed OS environments, with the requirement that all of the internet traffic on B gets routed through A first. I've already looked at some boxed solutions, such as LogMeIn Hamachi, but there hasn't been much in the way of mixed environment support. This is a complicated one, so keep reading for more on what RavenLrD20k is trying to accomplish.
Businesses

As Cloud Growth Booms, Server Farms Get Super-Sized 57 57

1sockchuck writes: Internet titans are concentrating massive amounts of computing power in regional cloud campuses housing multiple data centers. These huge data hubs, often in rural communities, enable companies to rapidly add server capacity and electric power amid rapid growth of cloud hosting and social sharing. As this growth continues, we'll see more of these cloud campuses, and they'll be bigger than the ones we see today. Some examples from this month: Google filed plans for a mammoth 800,000 square foot data center near Atlanta, Equinix announced 1 million square feet of new data centers on its campus in Silicon Valley, and Facebook began work on a $1 billion server farm in Texas that will span 750,000 square feet.
Books

Book Review: Cloud Computing Design Patterns 33 33

benrothke writes: Far too many technology books take a Hamburger Helper approach, where the first quarter or so of the book is about an introduction to the topic, and filler at the end with numerous appendices of publicly available information. These books end up being well over 800 pages without a lot of original information, even though they are written an advanced audience. In software engineering, a design pattern is a general repeatable solution to a commonly occurring problem in software design. A design pattern isn't a finished design that can be transformed directly into code. It is a description or template for how to solve a problem that can be used in many different situations. Using that approach for the cloud, in Cloud Computing Design Patterns, authors Thomas Erl, Robert Cope and Amin Naserpour have written a superb book that has no filler and fully stocked with excellent and invaluable content. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
Movies

J.J. Abrams On "Star Wars" Cast's Racial and Sexual Diversity 504 504

Yesterday at Comic-Con, director J.J. Abrams held forth on the racial and sexual diversity of the actors portraying the characters of the Star Wars franchise. From CNET's article: For Star Wars, it's a complex debate. The franchise has included prominent and strong female characters, like Princess Leia, as well as central characters played by black actors, such as Cloud City administrator Lando Calrissian, played by Billy Dee Williams, and Jedi Mace Windu, played by Samuel L. Jackson. On the other hand, Jar Jar Binks, a computer-generated alien in 1999's "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace," drew fire from some critics, who said he called to mind demeaning black film characters such as those played by Stepin Fetchit in the 1930s. (Not to mention other cultural stereotypes that pop up in Episodes I, II, and III.)
Oracle

Oracle Bullies Enterprise Clients Into Cloud Purchases, Consultant Claims 184 184

An anonymous reader writes: A consultant claims that Oracle has adopted the widespread use of 'breach notices' this year to force existing enterprise customers to adopt its newly-bolstered range of cloud services, or else be told to stop using all Oracle software within thirty days. Speaking to Business Insider, the unnamed source described the tactic as a 'nuclear option' which is now practically the default when the need to add services or users to an existing contract triggers an 'audit' by Oracle. An ex-Oracle contract negotiator who now works in the ever-expanding business niche of 'Oracle contract negotiation' commented 'Internally, the water cooler gossip there is that they've never seen this kind of aggression before. Oracle has really dialed it up. Customers are buying cloud services to make the Oracle issue go away, not because they have any intention of using cloud services.'
Cloud

How Apple Music Can Disrupt Users' iTunes Libraries 360 360

An anonymous reader writes: Early adopters of Apple Music are warning others they could get more than they bargained for if they intend to download tracks for offline listening. Since Apple Music is primarily a streaming service, this functionality necessitates turning on iCloud Music for syncing purposes. The way Apple syncs files is to scan your library for known music files, and if it finds one, the service gives your account access to Apple's canonical copy. Unfortunately, this wipes out any custom edits you made to the file's metadata. For those who have put a lot of time into customizing their library, this can do a lot of damage to their organizational system. Apple's efforts to simplify and streamline the process have once again left advanced users with a difficult decision to make.
Government

Can New Chicago Taxes On Netflix, Apple, Spotify Withstand Legal Challenges? 188 188

Mr D from 63 writes: Today, a new "cloud tax" takes effect in the city of Chicago, targeting online databases and streaming entertainment services. Residents who stream movies and music from companies like Netflix and Spotify will now need to pay an additional 9% tax. This also applies to Chicago businesses that pay to use databases online. Chicago expects to collect $12 million a year as a result of the new tax ruling. From the 24/7 Wall St. story: "Also worth noting is that the city’s tax ruling in both cases avoids the issue of whether there is a close-enough connection (nexus, in legalese) to require providers like Netflix or others to collect either tax. International law firm ReedSmith weighs in on this point as well: '[O]nce the Department begins to audit and assess customers located within the city, many of those customers are likely to demand that providers collect the tax going forward. As a result, many providers will likely feel the need to register to collect the taxes, despite lacking nexus, and despite having strong arguments against the Department’s expansive interpretation of its taxing ordinances.'"
Space

First Human Colonies Should Be Among Venus' Clouds 256 256

StartsWithABang writes: When we talk about humans existing on worlds other than Earth, the first choice of a planet to do so on is usually Mars, a world that may have been extremely Earth-like for the first billion years of our Solar System or so. Perhaps, with enough ingenuity and resources, we could terraform it to be more like Earth is today. But the most Earth-like conditions in the Solar System don't occur on the surface of Mars, but rather in the high altitudes of Venus' atmosphere, some 50-65 km up. Despite its harsh conditions, this may be the best location for the first human colonies, for a myriad of good, scientific reasons. NASA proposed something similar last year and released a report on the subject.
Space

What If You Could See Asteroids In the Night Sky? 54 54

An anonymous reader writes: As part of Asteroid Day a 360-degree video rendering the night sky with the population of near-earth asteroids included has been created by 'Astronogamer' Scott Manley. The video shows how the Earth flies through a cloud of asteroids on its journey around the sun, and yet we've only discovered about 1% of the near earth asteroid population.
Businesses

Cisco To Acquire OpenDNS 147 147

New submitter Tokolosh writes: Both Cisco and OpenDNS announced today that the former is to acquire the latter. From the Cisco announcement: "To build on Cisco's advanced threat protection capabilities, we plan to continue to innovate a cloud delivered Security platform integrating OpenDNS' key capabilities to accelerate that work. Over time, we will look to unite our cloud-delivered solutions, enhancing Cisco's advanced threat protection capabilities across the full attack continuum—before, during and after an attack." With Cisco well-embedded with the US security apparatus (NSA, CIA, FBI, etc.) is it time to seek out alternatives to OpenDNS?
Businesses

Put Your Enterprise Financial Data In the Cloud? Sure, Why Not 91 91

jfruh writes: For many, the idea of storing sensitive financial and other data in the cloud seems insane, especially considering the regulatory aspects that mandate how that data is protected. But more and more organizations are doing so as cloud providers start presenting offerings that fulfill regulatory needs — and people realize that information is more likely to be accidentally emailed out to the wrong address than hacked.
Programming

Amazon Opens Up Echo's Alexa To Developers 26 26

mikejuk writes: Amazon announced Echo, a wireless speaker with a built-in, voice-controlled, personal assistant called Alexa last year. Now it appears Alexa will no longer be tied exclusively to Echo. Amazon has announced that the Alexa Voice Service (AVS), the cloud-based service behind Echo, is being made available for free to third party hardware makers who want to integrate Alexa into their devices. To propel developers and hardware manufacturers interest in voice technology and their adoption of Alexa, Amazon has also announced a $100 Million Alexa Fund, open to anyone, startups to established brands, with an innovative idea for using voice technology.
Google

Google Tests Code Repository Service 44 44

An anonymous reader writes: VentureBeat notes that Google has begun testing an unannounced service to host and edit source code repositories as part of its cloud platform. It's called Cloud Source Repositories, and it's currently being beta-tested. "Google is taking a gradual approach with the new service: It can serve as a 'remote' for Git repositories sitting elsewhere on the Internet or locally. Still, over time the new tool could help Google become more of an all-in-one destination for building and deploying applications."
Android

Microsoft Brings Office To Android Smartphones For Free 85 85

Mark Wilson writes: After a few weeks in preview, Microsoft Office is now available for Android smartphones. Despite Microsoft's mobile-first, cloud-first philosophy, it has actually taken some time to bring the world's most popular office suite to Android phones — it joins the tablet version of the suite that was released last year. Just like the tablet editions, the phone versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint won't cost you a penny, allowing for the viewing and editing of a range of files when on the move. There is a cloud focus with support for not only OneDrive, but also Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box, and Microsoft says it has made changes based on the feedback received during the preview period.