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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

United States

Number of Coders In Congress To Triple (From One To Three) 157

Posted by samzenpus
from the small-steps dept.
jfruh writes Last weekend, Tim Berners-Lee said that the UK needs more members of parliament who can code. Well, the most recent U.S. congressional election has obliged him on this side of the Atlantic: the number of coders in Congress has tripled, with the downside being that their numbers have gone from one to three.
Cloud

Microsoft Azure Outage Across the Globe 157

Posted by Soulskill
from the maybe-you-should-call-it-office364 dept.
hawkinspeter writes: The BBC reports that overnight an outage of Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform took down many third-party sites that rely on it, in addition to disrupting Microsoft's own products. Office 365 and Xbox Live services were affected.

This happened at a particularly inopportune time, as Microsoft has recently been pushing its Azure services in an effort to catch up with other providers such as Amazon, IBM, and Google. Just a couple of hours previously, Microsoft had screened an Azure advert in the UK during the Scotland v. England soccer match."
(Most services are back online. As of this writing, Application Insights is still struggling, and Europe is having problems with hosted VMs.)
United Kingdom

UK Hotel Adds Hefty Charge For Bad Reviews Online 297

Posted by Soulskill
from the will-they-never-learn dept.
Bizzeh writes: A British couple has been "fined" £100 by a Blackpool hotel for leaving critical comments on Trip Advisor. The UK's Trading Standards organization is investigating the incident, saying it may breach regulations. The Broadway Hotel's booking policy reads (in small print), "Despite the fact that repeat customers and couples love our hotel, your friends and family may not. "For every bad review left on any website, the group organizer will be charged a maximum £100 per review."
PC Games (Games)

Elite: Dangerous Dumps Offline Single-Player 462

Posted by Soulskill
from the hope-you-like-random-internet-people dept.
Robotron23 writes: The developers behind the sequel to legendary video game Elite have, to the anger and dismay of fans, dropped the offline single-player mode originally promised. The game is due for full release in under a month. With the title having raised about $1.5 million from Kickstarter, and millions more in subsequent campaigns that advertised the feature, gamers are livid. A complaints thread on the official Elite forums has swelled to 450+ pages in only three days, while refunds are being lodged in the thousands. It is down to the discretion of Frontier, the game's developer, whether to process refund requests of original backers.
Transportation

Toyota Names Upcoming Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car 191

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-car-by-any-other-name-would-drive-as-clean dept.
An anonymous reader writes Toyota has announced the name of its new hydrogen-powered car: Mirai, which means "future" in Japanese. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said: "Today, we are at a turning point in automotive history. A turning point where a four-door sedan can travel 300 miles on a single tank of hydrogen, can be refueled in under five minutes and emit only water vapor."
Space

Fascinating Rosetta Image Captures Philae's Comet Bounce 69

Posted by samzenpus
from the where's-waldo dept.
mpicpp points out that high-resolution pictures have been released of Philae's landing. "The hunt for Rosetta's lost lander Philae is gaining steam as scientists pore over images from above the comet that may help reveal its final location. The ESA released an image Monday taken by Rosetta's OSIRIS camera showing Philae's first bounce on the comet. The mosaic includes a series of pictures tracking the lander descending toward the comet, the initial touchdown point and then an image of the lander moving east. 'The imaging team is confident that combining the CONSERT ranging data with OSIRIS and navcam images from the orbiter and images from near the surface and on it from Philae's ROLIS and CIVA cameras will soon reveal the lander's whereabouts,' says the ESA."
United Kingdom

World's Youngest Microsoft Certificated Professional Is Five Years Old 276

Posted by timothy
from the so-long-as-he-likes-it dept.
HughPickens.com writes Gurvinder Gill writes at BBC that Ayan Qureshi is the world's youngest Microsoft Certified Professional after passing the tech giant's exam when he was just five years old. Qureshi's father introduced his son to computers when he was three years old. He let him play with his old computers, so he could understand hard drives and motherboards. "I found whatever I was telling him, the next day he'd remember everything I said, so I started to feed him more information," Qureshi explained. "Too much computing at this age can cause a negative effect, but in Ayan's case he has cached this opportunity." Ayan has his own computer lab at his home in Coventry, containing a computer network which he built and spends around two hours a day learning about the operating system, how to install programs, and has his own web site.

Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) is a certification that validates IT professional and developer technical expertise through rigorous, industry-proven, and industry-recognized exams. MCP exams cover a wide range of Microsoft products, technologies, and solutions. When the boy arrived to take the Microsoft exam, the invigilators were concerned that he was too young to be a candidate. His father reassured them that Ayan would be all right on his own. "There were multiple choice questions, drag and drop questions, hotspot questions and scenario-based questions," Ayan's father told the BBC Asian Network. "The hardest challenge was explaining the language of the test to a five-year-old. But he seemed to pick it up and has a very good memory."
Japan

Japanese Maglev Train Hits 500kph 418

Posted by timothy
from the for-amtrak-that-takes-negligence dept.
An anonymous reader writes Japan has now put 100 passengers on a Maglev train doing over 500kph. That's well over twice as fast as the fastest U.S. train can manage, and that only manages 240kph on small sections of its route. The Japanese Shinkansen is now running over 7 times times as fast as the average U.S. express passenger train. 500kph is moving towards the average speed of an airliner. Add the convenience of no boarding issues, and city-centre to city-centre travel, and the case for trains as mass-transport begins to look stronger.
Censorship

Cameron Says People Radicalized By Free Speech; UK ISPs Agree To Censor Button 316

Posted by timothy
from the oh-that'll-work-fine dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Techdirt: A few years ago, we mocked then Senator Joe Lieberman's request that internet companies put "report this content as terrorist content" buttons on various types of online content. The plan went nowhere, because it's a really bad idea, prone to massive abuse. Yet, over in the UK, some apparently think it's such a grand idea that they're actually moving forward with it. This isn't a huge surprise — the current UK government has been going on for quite some time about banning "extremist" content, and just recently ramped up such efforts. And now it appears that a bunch of big UK broadband access providers have agreed to play along: The UK's major Internet service providers – BT, Virgin, Sky and Talk Talk – have this week committed to host a public reporting button for terrorist material online, similar to the reporting button which allows the public to report child sexual exploitation. They have also agreed to ensure that terrorist and extremist material is captured by their filters to prevent children and young people coming across radicalising material.
The Media

Assassin's Creed: Unity Launch Debacle Pulls Spotlight Onto Game Review Embargos 473

Posted by timothy
from the hey-can-you-hold-this? dept.
RogueyWon (735973) writes "The latest entry in the long-running Assassin's Creed game series, Assassin's Creed: Unity released this week. Those looking for pre-release reviews on whether to make a purchase were out of luck; the publisher, Ubisoft, had provided gaming sites with advance copies, but only on condition that their reviews be withheld until 17 hours after the game released in North America. Following the game's release, many players have reported finding it in a highly buggy state, with severe performance issues affecting all three release platforms (PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One). Ubisoft has been forced onto the defensive, taking the unprecedented step of launching a live-blog covering their efforts at debugging the game, but the debacle has already had a large impact on the company's share value and the incident has drawn widespread attention to the increasingly common practice of review embargoes."
Medicine

Scientists Discover a Virus That Changes the Brain To "Make Humans More Stupid" 275

Posted by samzenpus
from the dumb-bug dept.
concertina226 writes that researchers have found a virus that appears to reduce people’s thinking power and attention span. "Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Medical School and the University of Nebraska have discovered an algae virus that makes us more stupid by infecting our brains. The researchers were conducting a completely unrelated study into throat microbes when they realized that DNA in the throats of healthy people matched the DNA of a chlorovirus virus known as ATCV-1. ATCV-1 is a virus that infects the green algae found in freshwater lakes and ponds. It had previously been thought to be non-infectious to humans, but the scientists found that it actually affects cognitive functions in the brain by shortening attention span and causing a decrease in spatial awareness. For the first time ever, the researchers proved that microorganisms have the ability to trigger delicate physiological changes to the human body, without launching a full-blown attack on the human immune system."
Biotech

Study: Body Weight Heavily Influenced By Heritable Gut Microbes 297

Posted by samzenpus
from the passing-it-on dept.
FirephoxRising writes Our genetic makeup influences whether we are fat or thin by shaping which types of microbes thrive in our body, according to a new study. Scientists identified a specific, little known bacterial family that is highly heritable and more common in individuals with low body weight. So we are what we eat, and what we got from out parents. From the article: "The study, funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH), researchers sequenced the genes of microbes found in more than 1,000 fecal samples from 416 pairs of twins. The abundances of specific types of microbes were found to be more similar in identical twins, who share 100 per cent of their genes, than in non-identical twins, who share on average only half of the genes that vary between people. These findings demonstrate that genes influence the composition of gut microbes."
Security

Website Peeps Into 73,000 Unsecured Security Cameras Via Default Passwords 321

Posted by Soulskill
from the security-through-insecurity dept.
colinneagle writes: After coming across a Russian website that streams video from unsecured video cameras that employ default usernames and passwords (the site claims it's doing it to raise awareness of privacy risks), a blogger used the information available to try to contact the people who were unwittingly streamed on the site. It didn't go well. The owner of a pizza restaurant, for example, cursed her out over the phone and accused her of "hacking" the cameras herself. And whoever (finally) answered the phone at a military building whose cameras were streaming on the site told her to "call the Pentagon."

The most common location of the cameras was the U.S., but many others were accessed from South Korea, China, Mexico, the UK, Italy, and France, among others. Some are from businesses, and some are from personal residences. Particularly alarming was the number of camera feeds of sleeping babies, which people often set up to protect them, but, being unaware of the risks, don't change the username or password from the default options that came with the cameras.

It's not the first time this kind of issue has come to light. In September 2013, the FTC cracked down on TRENDnet after its unsecured cameras were found to be accessible online. But the Russian site accesses cameras from several manufacturers, raising some new questions — why are strong passwords not required for these cameras? And, once this becomes mandatory, what can be done about the millions of unsecured cameras that remain live in peoples' homes?
Privacy

British Spies Are Free To Target Lawyers and Journalists 184

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-see-what-you're-doing dept.
Advocatus Diaboli writes British spies have been granted the authority to secretly eavesdrop on legally privileged attorney-client communications, according to newly released documents. On Thursday, a series of previously classified policies confirmed for the first time that the U.K.'s top surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters has advised its employees: "You may in principle target the communications of lawyers." The country's other major security and intelligence agencies—MI5 and MI6—have adopted similar policies, the documents show. The guidelines also appear to permit surveillance of journalists and others deemed to work in "sensitive professions."
Earth

Using Naval Logbooks To Reconstruct Past Weather and Predict Future Climate 102

Posted by Soulskill
from the climate-change-destroyed-the-mermaid's-natural-habitat dept.
Lasrick writes: What a great idea: the Old Weather Project uses old logbooks to study the weather patterns of long ago, providing a trove of archival data to scientists who are trying to fill in the details of our knowledge about the atmosphere and the changing climate. "Pity the poor navigator who fell asleep on watch and failed to update his ship's logbook every four hours with details about its geographic position, time, date, wind direction, barometric readings, temperatures, ocean currents, and weather conditions." As Clive Wilkinson of the UK's National Maritime Museum adds, "Anything you read in a logbook, you can be sure that it is a true and faithful account."

The Old Weather Project uses citizen scientists to transcribe and digitize observations that were scrupulously recorded on a clockwork-like basis, and it is one of several that climate scientists are using to create "a three-dimensional computer simulation that will provide a continuous, century-and-a-half-long profile of the entire planet's climate over time" — the 20th Century Reanalysis Project. Data is checked and rechecked by three different people before entry into the database, and the logbook measurements are especially valuable because they were compiled at sea.
Facebook

Government Data Requests To Facebook Up By 24% 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the strong-YoY-growth dept.
davidshenba writes: Facebook has revealed that government requests for user data has increased by 24% to nearly 35,000 during the first six months of the year. Also content restrictions due to local laws increased by 19% in the same period. According to Facebook, they scrutinize every government request for legal sufficiency and "push back hard when we find deficiencies or are served with overly broad requests." Already Facebook is fighting its largest ever legal battle against a U.S. court order to handover 400 users' data.
Cloud

LHC Data Generation Expected To Scale Up To 400PB a Year 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the heading-toward-exascale dept.
DW100 writes: Cern has said it expects its experiments with the Large Hadron Collider to generate as much as 400PB of information per year by 2023 as the scope of its work continues to expand. Currently LHC experiments have generated an archive of 100PB and this is growing by 27PB per year. Cern infrastructure manager Tim Bell, speaking at the OpenStack Summit in Paris, said the organization is using OpenStack to underpin this huge data growth, hoping it can handle such vast reams of potentially universe-altering information.
Network

Gigabit Internet Connections Make Property Values Rise 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the let-the-bytes-flow dept.
Jason Koebler writes: When families go to buy a new home, they're most often looking for a couple things: Good schools, a safe neighborhood, maybe something that's near public transportation. And, increasingly and undeniably, access to gigabit internet service. A study by RVA LLC Market Research and Consulting found that fiber optic internet adds roughly $5,250 to the value of a $300,000 home. "It's getting to the point where, if my neighboring community has a gig and we're still doing satellite, the property value in that town is going to go up," Deb Socia, director of Next Century Cities, a coalition of cities trying to provide gigabit internet speeds to their citizens, said. "You're going to lose people and you're going to lose revenue without it. I'm hearing it from folks in different chambers of commerce, in real estate, in politics."
Medicine

Shift Work Dulls Brain Performance 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the brain-and-brain-what-is-brain dept.
davidshenba writes: Scientists warn that working in unusual shifts can prematurely age the brain and dull intellectual ability. Three thousand people in France were given tests of memory, speed of thought and wider cognitive ability. People with more than 10 years of shift work history had the same results as someone six and a half years older. The brain naturally dulls as we age, but the researchers said working antisocial shifts accelerated the process.
Books

Interviews: Ask Warren Ellis a Question 58

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
samzenpus writes "Warren Ellis is an acclaimed British author of comics, novels, and television who is well known for his sociocultural commentary. The movies Red and Iron Man 3 are based on his graphic novels. In addition to numerous other comic titles, he started a personal favorite, Transmetropolitan. Ellis has written for Vice, Wired UK, and Reuters on technological and cultural matters, and is co-writing a video project called Wastelanders with Joss Whedon. Warren has agreed to give us some of his time to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post."

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