Education

Massive Layoffs Hit University of Copenhagen 131

jones_supa writes: University of Copenhagen is cutting deep into its staff to cut operation costs. Even though a great deal of the savings are aimed at administration and service, they are expected to affect the quality of education and research many years ahead. More than 500 teachers, researchers and employees in service and administrative jobs will be leaving. This corresponds to 7% of all staff. 209 employees can anticipate being laid off, while 323 jobs are either discontinued or terminated via voluntary redundancy. In addition to this, the university will have to reduce its PhD intake by 10% in the coming years. This is the outcome of the government's 2016 budget which imposes huge savings on research and education. As you might remember, we just heard about a similar situation in University of Helsinki in Finland.
Bitcoin

Ask Slashdot: Time To Get Into Crypto-currency? If So, Which? 240

Qbertino writes: With the ever-looming cyberpunk future in close proximity, I'm starting to wonder if it isn't time to get myself familiar with crypto currency as a means of trade. Bitcoin is all the hype, but the blockchain has flaws, in that it isn't as anonymous as one would hope for — you can track past transactions. Rumors of Bitcoin showing cracks are popping up and also there are quite a few alternatives out there. So I have some questions: Is getting into dealing with crypto currency worthwhile already? Is Bitcoin the way to go, or will it falter under wide use / become easily trackable once NSA and the likes adapt their systems to doing exactly that? What digital currency has the technical and mind-share potential to supersede bitcoin? Are there feasible cryptocurrencies that have the upsides of Bitcoin (such as a mathematical limit to their amount) but are fully anonymous in transactions? What do the economists and digi-currency nerds here have to contribute on that? What are your experiences with handling and holding cryptocurrency? And does Bitcoin own the market or is it still flexible enough for an technology upgrade?
AI

Financial Advisers Disrupted By AI (bloomberg.com) 71

schwit1 writes: Banks are watching wealthy clients flirt with robo-advisers, and that's one reason the lenders are racing to release their own versions of the automated investing technology this year, according to a consultant. Robo-advisers, which use computer programs to provide investment advice online, typically charge less than half the fees of traditional brokerages, which cost at least 1 percent of assets under management.
Bug

Have Your iPhone 6 Repaired, Only To Get It Bricked By Apple (theguardian.com) 388

New submitter Nemosoft Unv. writes: In case you had a problem with the fingerprint sensor or some other small defect on your iPhone 6 and had it repaired by a non-official (read: cheaper) shop, you may be in for a nasty surprise: error 53. What happens is that during an OS update or re-install the software checks the internal hardware and if it detects a non-Apple component, it will display an error 53 and brick your phone. Any photos or other data held on the handset is lost – and irretrievable. Thousands of people have flocked to forums to express their dismay at this. What's more insiduous is that the error may only appear weeks or months after the repair. Incredibly, Apple says this cannot be fixed by any hard- or software update, while it is clearly their software that causes the problem in the first place. And then you thought FTDI was being nasty ...
Crime

Survey: Average Successful Hack Nets Less Than $15,000 (csoonline.com) 84

itwbennett writes: According to a Ponemon Institute survey, hackers make less than $15,000 per successful attack and net, on average, less than $29,000 a year. The average attacker conducts eight attacks per year, of which less than half are successful. Among the findings that will be of particular interest to defenders: Hackers prefer easy targets and will call off an attack if it is taking too long. According to the survey, 13 percent quit after a delay of five hours. A delay of 10 hours causes 24 percent to quit, a delay of 20 hours causes 36 to quit, and a majority of 60 percent will give up if an attack takes 40 additional hours. 'If you can delay them by two days, you can deter 60 percent of attacks,' said Scott Simkin, senior threat intelligence manager at Palo Alto Networks, which sponsored the study.
Bug

IRS Computer Problems Shut Down Tax Return E-file System (foxnews.com) 175

Mr.Intel writes: The IRS stopped accepting electronically filed tax returns Wednesday because of problems with some of its computer systems. The outage could affect refunds, but the agency said it doesn't anticipate "major disruptions." A "hardware failure" forced the shutdown of several tax processing systems, including the e-file system, the IRS said in a statement. The IRS.gov website remains available, but "where's my refund" and other services are not working. Some systems will be out of service at least until Thursday, the agency said. "The IRS is currently in the process of making repairs and working to restore normal operations as soon as possible," the IRS said.
Mars

Congressional Testimony Says NASA Has No Plan For the Journey To Mars (blastingnews.com) 309

MarkWhittington writes: Testimony at a hearing before the House Science Committee's Subcommittee on Space suggested that NASA's Journey to Mars lacks a plan to achieve the first human landing on the Red Planet, almost six years after President Obama announced the goal on April 15, 2010. Moreover, two of the three witnesses argued that a more realistic near term goal for the space agency would be a return to the moon. The moon is not only a scientifically interesting and potentially commercially profitable place to go but access to lunar water, which can be refined into rocket fuel, would make the Journey to Mars easier and cheaper.
Patents

Patent Troll VirnetX Awarded $626M In Damages From Apple (arstechnica.com) 132

Tackhead writes: Having won a $200M judgement against Microsoft in 2010, lost a $258M appeal against Cisco in 2013, and having beaten Apple for $368M in 2012, only to see the verdict overturned in 2014, patent troll VirnetX is back in the news, having been awarded $626M in damages arising from the 2012 Facetime patent infringement case against Apple.
Moon

Russia Begins Work On a Lunar Lander (examiner.com) 91

MarkWhittington writes: Whether and when Russia will try to send cosmonauts to the moon is an open question. The Putin government has heavily slashed spending on the Russian space program, a measure brought on by declining oil and gas revenues. But, as Popular Mechanics reports, Russian engineers have gone ahead and have started to design a lunar lander for the eventual Russian lunar surface effort. When money is going to be forthcoming for such a vehicle is unknown, though Russia could partner with another country with lunar ambitions, such as China or the European Union.
Government

MIT Inches Closer To ARC Reactor Despite Losing Federal Funding (computerworld.com) 181

Lucas123 writes: Experimenting with a fusion device over the past 20 years has edged MIT researchers to their final goal, creating a small and relatively inexpensive ARC reactor, three of which would produce enough energy to power a city the size of Boston. The lessons already learned from MIT's even current Alcator C-Mod fusion device — with a plasma radius of just 0.68 meters — have enabled researchers to publish a paper on a prototype ARC that would be the world's smallest fusion reactor but with the greatest magnetic force and energy output for its size. The ARC would require 50MW to run while putting out about 200MW of electricity to the grid. Key to MIT's ARC reactor would be the use of a "high-temperature" rare-earth barium copper oxide (REBCO) superconducting tape for its magnetic coils, which only need to be cooled to 100 Kelvin, which enables the use of abundant liquid nitrogen as a cooling agent. Other fusion reactors' superconducting coils must be cooled to 4 degrees Kelvin. While there remain hurdles to overcome, such as sustaining the fusion reaction long enough to achieve a net power return, building the ARC would only take 4 to 5 years and cost about $5 billion, compared to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), the world's largest tokamak fusion reactor due to go online and begin producing energy in 2027.
Businesses

Elon Musk Cancels Stewart Alsop's Tesla Order Over Complaints About Launch Event 337

New submitter umafuckit writes: Blogger Stewart Alsop wrote an open letter to Elon Musk following a supposedly badly run launch event for the Model X. Alsop complained that the event started almost 2 hours late and was unable to test drive the car (for which has put down a deposit). In response, Musk cancelled Alsop's pre-order saying "Must be a slow news day if denying service to a super rude customer gets this much attention." Alsop, who is known not just for his prolific blogging but for his role as a founding partner at VC firm Alsop Louie Partners, compares his treatment by Tesla to that of BMW, about which he's also said some unflattering things as a customer.
China

Duplicate Login Details Enabled Hack of More Than 20 Million Chinese Consumers (thestack.com) 14

An anonymous reader writes: According to various Chinese sources including Techweb (Chinese language), police in Zhejiang held a conference on Monday announcing that 20.59 million users of the 'Chinese eBay', taobao.com, had their login details stolen by proxy, when hackers ran user/pass combos from a stolen database of 99 million other users and found that more than 20% were using the same login credentials across different ecommerce sites.
Yahoo!

Yahoo To Fire Another 15% As Mayer Attempts To Hang On (theguardian.com) 217

New submitter xxxJonBoyxxx writes: Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer has announced plans to cut the company's workforce by 15% and close five foreign offices by the end of 2016 after announcing a $4.4bn loss. Yahoo shares have fallen 33% over the past year, including a 17% drop in the last three months. Its shares fell again in after-hours trading after Mayer announced her plan. Yahoo expects its workforce to be down to 9,000 and have fewer than 1,000 contractors by end of 2016. About a third of Yahoo's workforce has left either voluntarily or involuntarily over the last year. And the cuts may just be starting: one activist investor (SpringOwl) says the total number of employees should be closer to 3,000 for a company with its revenue.
Businesses

How Uber Profits Even When Its Drivers Aren't Earning Money (vice.com) 179

tedlistens writes: Jay Cassano spoke to Uber drivers about "dead miles" and what work means when your boss is an algorithm, and considers a new frontier of labor concerns and big data. "Uber is the closest thing to an employer we've ever seen in this industry," Bhairavi Desai, founder of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, told him. "They not only direct every aspect of a driver's workday, they also profit off the entire day through data collection, not just the 'sale of a product.'"
Transportation

The Feds' Freeway Font Flip-Flop (citylab.com) 182

McGruber writes: Citylab has the news that the U.S. Federal Highway Administration is revoking its 2004 approval of the "Clearview" font for road signs. Clearview was made to improve upon its predecessor, a 1940s font called Highway Gothic. Certain letters appeared to pose visibility problems, especially those with tight interstices (or internal spacing)—namely lowercase e, a, and s. At night, any of these reflective letters might appear to be a lowercase o in the glare of headlights. By opening up these letterforms, and mixing lowercase and uppercase styles, Clearview aimed to improve how these reflective highway signs read.

Now, just 12 years later, the FHWA is reversing itself: "After more than a decade of analysis, we learned—among other things—that Clearview actually compromises the legibility of signs in negative-contrast color orientations, such as those with black letters on white or yellow backgrounds like Speed Limit and Warning signs," said Doug Hecox, a FHWA spokesperson, in an email. The FHWA has not yet provided any research on Clearview that disproves the early claims about the font's benefits. But there is at least one factor that clearly distinguishes it from Highway Gothic: cost. Jurisdictions that adopt Clearview must purchase a standard license for type, a one-time charge of between $175 (for one font) and $795 (for the full 13-font typeface family) and up, depending on the number of workstations.

That doesn't seems like a very good use of tax money, for something that can be nondestructively reused once created.
Businesses

Price Dispute Means 800k Customers Lose TV Channels In Sweden (telecompaper.com) 164

Z00L00K writes: Due to a conflict between the cable operators and the channel providers, 800,000 to 900,000 customers will lose some of the most-viewed TV channels in Sweden, among them Eurosport, Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. Additional customers in Norway will also lose channels. This is caused by a considerable hike in price for the channels from the provider Discovery Networks. However the amount of money involved is still kept secret for negotiation and business reasons. "Telenor Broadcast arm Canal Digital said Discovery Networks has told it that it will withdraw its channels from Canal Digital Sweden and sister company Bredbandsbolaget from 01 February. This follows Discovery's attempts to raise prices and pay for a number of channels that viewers had not chosen. This will affect their approximately 800,000 customers while a new contract is negotiated. Telenor Sweden customers will not able to watch Kanal 5 or the other Discovery channels until a deal is reached." Considering that Sweden has a population of almost 10 million the impact is noticeable.
United States

Air Force Firewall Now Designated a Weapons System (gazette.com) 137

An anonymous reader writes with a report from the Colorado Springs Gazette that the U.S. Air Force Space Command has declared its first cyber "weapons system" operational. The weapon, deemed fully operational this month, is basically a big firewall designed to protect the Air Force's internal 1 million-user network from hackers. It will be a hot topic at the Rocky Mountain Cyber Symposium, which is expected to draw hundreds of computer experts to The Broadmoor for a four-day confab starting Monday." More from the article about why a firewall would be called a weapon: The biggest reason for the weaponization push is financial: When it comes to budget battles, weapons, even those with a keyboard and a mouse, get cash from Congress. "Designating something as a weapons system really does help us justify our funding," Col. Pamela Wooley, who commands the Alabama-based 26th Cyberspace Operations Group, which includes the new weapon.
Businesses

Xerox Splits Into Two Companies, Icahn Not Behind Move (thestack.com) 45

An anonymous reader writes: Printer and copier maker Xerox has announced its plans to split into two separate publicly traded companies, giving billionaire Carl Icahn three board seats in the settlement. CEO Ursula Burns has now claimed that the decision was not driven in any way by the activist investor. Burns confirmed that the company had begun looking into its structure and portfolio from October 2015, in order to better reflect changes in the market. She added that no conversations with Icahn took place prior to these reviews, or before it made the final call. Xerox will now be divided into a new business process outsourcing company, and a document technology firm. Burns explained that her role, in either company, has not yet been confirmed. However now that the split is being implemented, leadership discussions will be held shortly, she said.
Windows

Microsoft's Windows Phone Platform Is Dead (windows10update.com) 455

Ammalgam writes: Tom Warren at the Verge today gave voice to what a lot of other technology analysts and today definitively declared that Microsoft's Windows Phone platform is dead. This largely based on the abysmal adoption numbers released in Microsoft's most recent earnings report. Mr. Warren articulates the obvious by stating: "With Lumia sales on the decline and Microsoft's plan to not produce a large amount of handsets, it's clear we're witnessing the end of Windows Phone. Rumors suggest Microsoft is developing a Surface Phone, but it has to make it to the market first. Windows Phone has long been in decline and its app situation is only getting worse. With a lack of hardware, lack of sales, and less than 2 percent market share, it's time to call it: Windows Phone is dead. "

Now this news should not be surprising to anyone who has watched the slow decline of Windows Phone. Last December, in an article on Windows10update.com, Onuora Amobi also wrote off the platform. In this case, his analysis was based on the nonconformity of the Microsoft user interface to Apple and Android's widely adopted aesthetic appeal. He wrote "I believe Windows Phone is dead. Kaput. Finished. Over. Done. ... Windows 10 is successful in part because it's a return to Windows 7 in many ways and that's what made the consumers happy. One of the definitions of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result". This is exactly what Microsoft is doing and it's insane. Over 90% of Microsoft's desired audience like the look and feel of iPhones and Android devices. They do – it's not good or bad – it just is what it is. They spend their money on those two user interfaces."

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