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Locked-Down Teens Stay Up All Night, Sleep All Day

Mon, 05/25/2020 - 09:03
Parents share a roof but see little of teenagers who have adopted vampire schedules; "Sometimes, my dad just wants me to wake up for no reason." From a report: Paul Cancellieri wakes up most mornings around 6 a.m. He makes himself breakfast. Then he says good night to his 16-year-old son, Cole. Cole, a high-school junior in Wake Forest, N.C., is one of the American teens who have gone nocturnal in the Covid-19 pandemic. While some schools require students to log on to live classes, many others are instead assigning work for students to complete on their own. With no daytime commitments, some teens prefer to stay up all night and sleep days. Some watch movies or chat with friends on similar schedules. Others do homework without their folks hovering. "I feel more relaxed, honestly," said Zach Zimmerman, a high-school senior in Mansfield, Texas. That was in April, when he was in the habit of going to bed around 10 a.m. and waking up in the late afternoon. This month, Zach started taking an online college class that starts at 1 p.m., forcing him back to daylight hours. "When my college classes are over," he said, "I'll probably go back." Some parents welcome the daytime peace and quiet. They say it isn't worth arguing over bedtimes when teens are stuck at home and have no compelling reason to rise early. Gabrielle Powell, a 17-year-old in Escondido, Calif., spends her nights on Snapchat and video calls with friends. She plows through TV shows like "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness" and "All American," she said, and makes macaroni and cheese. Her post-dawn bedtime varies. She recently broke her routine for the Advanced Placement calculus exam, at the ungodly late 11 a.m. Gabrielle stayed awake the rest of the day before going to sleep, but she soon returned to the night shift.

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Texas Instruments Makes It Harder to Run Programs on its Calculators

Mon, 05/25/2020 - 06:34
An anonymous reader quotes Engadget: Texas Instruments' graphing calculators have a reputation as hobbyist devices given their program support, but they just lost some of their appeal. Cemetech has learned (via Linus Tech Tips) that Texas Instruments is pulling support for assembly- and C-based programs on the TI-84 Plus CE and its French counterpart, the TI-83 Premium CE. Install the latest firmware for both (OS 5.6 and OS 5.5 respectively) and you'll not only lose access to those apps, but won't have a way to roll back. The company explained the move as an effort to "prioritize learning and minimize any security risks." It's to reduce cheating, to put it another way... While this could please teachers worried that students will use apps to cheat during exams, enthusiasts are unsurprisingly mad. This reduces the amount of control programmers have over their calculator apps.

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Will The Pandemic Mean Less Age Discrimination For Boomers?

Mon, 05/25/2020 - 02:34
An anonymous reader quotes Psychology Today's "Boomer's 3.0" blog: More and more companies, especially those in the tech sector, are wisely concluding that the physical infrastructure constructed to put employees together in a building is largely inefficient if not unnecessary. Beyond the potential health risks, office buildings are expensive to construct and maintain, and rents, taxes, and insurance comprise a high percentage of operating costs. It makes simple fiscal sense to bypass these expenses, assuming there is an acceptable alternative with which people can effectively communicate with each other. The internet is that alternative... Because a person on Zoom or its equivalent has far less physical presence than in real life, managers may be more open to hiring someone past middle age. Likewise, young adults may be more receptive to working with older adults in a virtual setting than in a real one. It may be an odd thing to contemplate, but less attention is paid to a person's physical attributes in a little square box on a screen than if he or she is in the same room. For tens of millions of baby boomers, the prospect of corporate culture becoming more age-friendly due to advancing technology would be a very welcome development. Rather than end one's career at a predetermined age...most of today's sexagenarians and septuagenarians want to work as long as they possibly can.

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Linus Torvalds Dumps Intel For 32-core AMD Ryzen On His Personal PC

Sun, 05/24/2020 - 22:34
Linus Torvalds released Linux 5.7 rc7 today, saying it "looks very normal... none of the fixes look like there's anything particularly scary going on." But then he added something else: [T]he biggest excitement this week for me was just that I upgraded my main machine, and for the first time in about 15 years, my desktop isn't Intel-based. No, I didn't switch to ARM yet, but I'm now rocking an AMD Threadripper 3970x. My 'allmodconfig' test builds are now three times faster than they used to be, which doesn't matter so much right now during the calming down period, but I will most definitely notice the upgrade during the next merge window. The Register writes: Torvalds didn't divulge any further details about his new rig, but the 3970x is quite the beast, boasting 32 cores and 64 threads at 3.7GHz with the ability to burst up to 4.5GHz, all built on TSMC's 7nm FinFET process... Torvalds has probably acquired a whole new PC, as the Threadripper range requires a sTRX4 socket and those debuted on motherboards from late 2019. Whatever he's running, it has more cores than Intel currently offers in a CPU designed for PCs. Even Chipzilla's high-end CoreX range tops out at 18 cores. AMD will be over the moon that such a high profile IT pro has adopted their kit and pointed to its performance. Or, as long-time Slashdot reader williamyf puts it, "Good endorsement for AMD, a PR blow for Intel."

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Tech Companies Urges US House to Protect the Privacy of Americans' Browsing and Search History

Sun, 05/24/2020 - 20:38
While reinstating the PATRIOT Act, the U.S. Senate blocked an amendment which would've shielded Americans' browsing and search histories from warrantless searches. But that fight may not be over, reports TechSpot: [S]everal tech companies including Mozilla, Reddit, Twitter, and Patreon have co-signed a letter asking the House of Representatives to tidy up this mess. The House still needs to pass the bill for it to become law, and they can force the inclusion of the amendment. They vote this week. "Our users demand that we serve as responsible stewards of their private information, and our industry is predicated on that trust," says the letter. "Americans deserve to have their online searches and browsing kept private, and only available to the government pursuant to a warrant." The amendment has also received support from dozens of civil rights and liberties groups, including the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Human Rights Watch. They co-signed a separate letter last week... "[S]upport for the underlying policy is now abundantly clear," argues the second letter, "both within Congress and among thepublic: the FBI should not be allowed to use the PATRIOT Act to surveil Americans' online activity without a warrant."

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Risk For MS 30% Higher For Those Living In Cities, Study Finds

Sun, 05/24/2020 - 18:42
schwit1 quotes UPI: City-dwellers are nearly 30 percent more likely to be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis than those living in more rural areas, a study presented Friday at the European Academy of Neurology Virtual Congress has found. Based on the results, which will also be published in European Journal of Neurology, air pollution could be a risk factor for the development of the disease, according to the authors, who conducted their research in Italy. "It is well recognized that immune diseases such as MS are associated with multiple factors, both genetic and environmental," co-author Dr. Roberto Bergamaschi, of the IRCCS Mondino Foundation in Pavia, Italy, said in a statement. "We believe that air pollution interacts through several mechanisms in the development of MS and the results of this study strengthen that hypothesis," he added.

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After 19 Years, the ISS Receives Its Very Last NASA Science Rack

Sun, 05/24/2020 - 17:48
"One of the longer chapters of the International Space Station has come to a close," writes Engadget. "NASA has sent the last of its 11 ExPRESS (Expedite the Processing of Experiments to the Space Station) science racks to the orbiting facility, 19 years after sending the first two." They don't look like much, but they provide the power, storage, climate control and communications for up to 10 small payloads — they're key to many of the experiments that run aboard the ISS and will help the station live up to its potential research capabilities. This last rack was carried aboard a Japanese cargo ship and should be installed and functioning by fall 2020. While the EXPRESS racks should be useful for a while yet, this effectively marks the end of an era for NASA's ISS work... Originally developed by engineers at Boeing and the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, "The first two completed racks were delivered to the space station on STS-100 in 2001 and have been in continuous operation ever since," notes a NASA press release, "as have all the subsequent added racks." And since then NASA has logged more than 85 total years of combined rack operational hours. "The sheer volume of science that's been conducted using the racks up til now is just overwhelming," says Shaun Glasgow, project manager for the EXPRESS Racks at Marshall. "And as we prepare to return human explorers to the Moon and journey on to Mars, it's even more exciting to consider all the scientific investigations still to come."

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UK May Drop Huawei From Planned 5G Networks

Sun, 05/24/2020 - 16:34
An anonymous reader quotes the Guardian: The National Cyber Security Agency in the UK is expected to conclude that U.S. sanctions against Huawei will make it impossible to use the Chinese company's technology as planned for 5G networks. The emergency review, announced on Sunday, is designed to pave the way for Downing Street to push for the total elimination of Huawei equipment in British phone networks by 2023 and quell a Conservative backbench revolt. That move will amount to a hasty reversal of the policy announced by ministers in January to limit Huawei to 35% of the British 5G network supply. It also risks irritating China and adding hundreds of millions of costs to BT and other phone companies... In early May, the U.S. said it would impose fresh sanctions against Huawei as part of a long-running campaign against the company, whose technology, the White House claims, could be exploited by China to conduct surveillance against the west. The U.S. sanctions, due to be introduced in September, would prevent Huawei from using U.S. semiconductors and software to build 5G equipment and force it to source alternatives, most likely from China. Whitehall sources said the threatened U.S. restrictions meant that any review would almost certainly say that Huawei posed a security risk. A particular concern was that Huawei would become reliant on unfamiliar and untested components, which could be exploited... Leaks on Friday suggested that Downing Street was preparing the ground for a dramatic climbdown.

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Altran's 'Code Defect AI' and the Rise of AI-Assisted Coding Tools

Sun, 05/24/2020 - 15:34
"Altran has released a new tool that uses artificial intelligence to help software engineers spot bugs during the coding process instead of at the end," reports TechRepublic. "Available on GitHub, Code Defect AI uses machine learning to analyze existing code, spot potential problems in new code, and suggest tests to diagnose and fix the errors." Walid Negm, group chief innovation officer at Altran, said that this new tool will help developers release quality code quickly. "The software release cycle needs algorithms that can help make strategic judgments, especially as code gets more complex," he said in a press release.... "Microsoft and Altran have been working together to improve the software development cycle, and Code Defect AI, powered by Microsoft Azure, is an innovative tool that can help software developers through the use of machine learning," said David Carmona, general manager of AI marketing at Microsoft, in a press release... In a new report about artificial intelligence and software development, Deloitte predicts that more and more companies will use AI-assisted coding tools. From January 2018 to September 2019, software vendors launched dozens of AI-powered software development tools, and startups working in this space raised $704 million over a similar timeframe.... "The benefits of AI-assisted coding are numerous," according to Deloitte analysts David Schatsky and Sourabh Bumb, the authors of AI is Helping to Make Better Software. " However, the principal benefit for companies is efficiency. Many of the new AI-powered tools work in a similar way to spell- and grammar-checkers, enabling coders to reduce the number of keystrokes they need to type by around 50%. They can also spot bugs while code is being written, while they can also automate as many as half of the tests needed to confirm the quality of software." This capability is even more important as companies continue to rely on open-source code. The Register got more details about Altran's Code Defect AI: The company told us that the AI does not look much at the source code itself, but rather at the commit metadata, "the number of files in the check-in, code complexity, density of the check-in, bug history of the file, history of the developer, experience of the developer in the particular module/file etc." Training of the model is done only on the project being examined...

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20% of GitLab Employees Handed Over Login Credentials in Phishing Test

Sun, 05/24/2020 - 14:34
SiliconANGLE reports: [C]ode repository management firm GitLab Inc. decided to phish their own employees to see what would happen. The result was not good: One in five employees fell for the fake emails... The GitLab team behind the exercise purchased the domain name gitlab.company, then used G Suite to facilitate the delivery of the phishing email. ["Congratulations. Your IT Department has identified you as a candidate for Apple's System Refresh Program..."] The domain name and G Suite services were set up to look legitimate, complete with SSL certificates to make the emails look less suspicious to automated phishing site detection and human inspection. Fifty GitLab employees were targeted with an email that asked them to click on a link to accept an upgrade. The link took them to the fake gitlab.company website where they were asked to enter their login details. On the positive side, only 17 of the 50 targeted employees clicked on the provided link. However, 10 of those 17 then attempted to log in on the fake site. Six of the 50 employees reported the email to GitLab's security operations team, the article notes. "Those who logged in on the fake site were then redirected to the phishing test section of the GitLab Handbook."

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'FOSS Responders' Want to Help Open-Source Groups Survive

Sun, 05/24/2020 - 13:34
"Thanks to the coronavirus, technology events have been canceled left and right," writes ZDNet. "This, in turn, is damaging the finances of companies and groups that depend on these events." Some open-source groups, such as The Linux Foundation, can deal with it. Others aren't so fortunate. Some, such as Drupal Foundation, the Open Source Initiative (OSI), Open Source Matters (Joomla), and Ajv JSON Schema validator, are in real trouble. FOSS Responders is trying to help these and other groups and individuals... Nuritzi Sanchez, a FOSS Responder co-founder and GitLab senior open-source program manager, said: We "started out around mid-March as a response to COVID-19 event cancellations. It's a group of open source leaders from companies like Indeed, Facebook, Google, Red Hat, GitHub, GitLab, etc." They've set up a process to help both open-source individuals and organizations facing financial trouble. So far, Sanchez said, "organizations are the ones that have been reaching out most so far." They're also consolidating information on how to plan and execute virtual events and provide a place where people can look for and offer help. FOSS Responders has already had some success in raising donations. Alyssa Wright, Open Collective's director of social engineering, reports that it's raised funds from Indeed, Open Source Collective, Linux Fund, GitHub, Google, Sentry, Ethereum Foundation, and the Sloan Foundation. As a result "FOSS Responders is contributing over $100K to open-source organizations that are experiencing financial strain because of the COVID-19 pandemic." "The main focus of philanthropic efforts will be elsewhere, as they should be," noted LWN.net back in March, "but it is nice to see our community finding ways to help itself out internally."

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What Happens When Software Development Environments Move to the Cloud?

Sun, 05/24/2020 - 12:34
An anonymous reader quotes IEEE Spectrum: If you're a newly hired software engineer, setting up your development environment can be tedious. If you're lucky, your company will have a documented, step-by-step process to follow. But this still doesn't guarantee you'll be up and running in no time. When you're tasked with updating your environment, you'll go through the same time-consuming process. With different platforms, tools, versions, and dependencies to grapple with, you'll likely encounter bumps along the way. Austin-based startup Coder aims to ease this process by bringing development environments to the cloud. "We grew up in a time where [Microsoft] Word documents changed to Google Docs. We were curious why this wasn't happening for software engineers," says John A. Entwistle, who founded Coder along with Ammar Bandukwala and Kyle Carberry in 2017. "We thought that if you could move the development environment to the cloud, there would be all sorts of cool workflow benefits." With Coder, software engineers access a preconfigured development environment on a browser using any device, instead of launching an integrated development environment installed on their computers... To ensure security, all source code and related development activities are hosted on a company's infrastructure — Coder doesn't host any data. Organizations can deploy Coder on their private servers or on cloud computing platforms such as Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud Platform. This option could be advantageous for banks, defense organizations, and other companies handling sensitive data. One of Coder's customers is the U.S. Air Force, the article points out -- and thats not the only government agency that's interested in their success. When Coder closed $30 million in Series B funding last month (bringing total funding to $43 million), one of their backers was a venture capital firm with ties to America's Central Intelligence Agency.

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Jack Dorsey Tells Andrew Yang: 'AI is Coming For Programming Jobs'

Sun, 05/24/2020 - 11:34
An anonymous reader quotes CNBC: The rise of artificial intelligence will make even software engineers less sought after. That's because artificial intelligence will soon write its own software, according to Jack Dorsey, the tech billionaire boss of Twitter and Square. And that's going to put some beginning-level software engineers in a tough spot. "We talk a lot about the self-driving trucks in and whatnot" when discussing how automation will replace jobs held by humans, Dorsey told former Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang on an episode of the "Yang Speaks" podcast published Thursday. But A.I. "is even coming for programming" jobs, Dorsey said. "A lot of the goals of machine learning and deep learning is to write the software itself over time so a lot of entry-level programming jobs will just not be as relevant anymore," Dorsey told Yang. Dorsey also told Yang that he belives a Universal Basic Income could give workers "peace of mind" that they'll be able to "eat and feed their children while they are learning how to transition into this new world."

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Wikipedia Plans New Rule To Combat 'Toxic Behavior'

Sun, 05/24/2020 - 10:34
Wikipedia is taking steps to fight what it's calling "toxic behavior" which will be finalized by the end of this year, reports the BBC (in an article shared by Charlotte Web): "We must work together to create a safe, inclusive culture, where everyone feels welcome, that their contributions are valued, and that their perspective matters," said Katherine Maher, the chief executive officer of the Wikimedia Foundation [which runs Wikipedia]... The foundation's binding code of conduct for members will include banning or limiting access if volunteers violate the terms. There will be a review process for the decisions if volunteers feel more context is needed. Wikipedia has become one of the internet's most trusted sources for information, but complaints about gender imbalances and harassment have plagued the platform for close to a decade. A study from the University of Washington on the gender gap in Wikipedia editors found many female and LGBTQ editors feared for their safety. Several female editors told the researchers their work had been contested by male editors or that they received negative feedback from a male editor. A New York Times article from 2019 also highlighted the concerns some transgender editors have about volunteering for the site. One editor told the paper they received death threats... [E]ditors can interact with one another and can change the content on a page after it has been written. This has led to a form of harassment where, after one volunteer adds to a page, another volunteer will remove or change that work moments later, forcing the first editor to redo their work and leading to editing battles.

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Chromium Project Finds 70% of Its Serious Security Bugs Are Memory Safety Problems

Sun, 05/24/2020 - 09:34
"Around 70% of our serious security bugs are memory safety problems," the Chromium project announced this week. "Our next major project is to prevent such bugs at source." ZDNet reports: The percentage was compiled after Google engineers analyzed 912 security bugs fixed in the Chrome stable branch since 2015, bugs that had a "high" or "critical" severity rating. The number is identical to stats shared by Microsoft. Speaking at a security conference in February 2019, Microsoft engineers said that for the past 12 years, around 70% of all security updates for Microsoft products addressed memory safety vulnerabilities. Both companies are basically dealing with the same problem, namely that C and C++, the two predominant programming languages in their codebases, are "unsafe" languages.... Google says that since March 2019, 125 of the 130 Chrome vulnerabilities with a "critical" severity rating were memory corruption-related issues, showing that despite advances in fixing other bug classes, memory management is still a problem... Half of the 70% are use-after-free vulnerabilities, a type of security issue that arises from incorrect management of memory pointers (addresses), leaving doors open for attackers to attack Chrome's inner components... While software companies have tried before to fix C and C++'s memory management problems, Mozilla has been the one who made a breakthrough by sponsoring, promoting and heavily adopting the Rust programming language in Firefox... Microsoft is also heavily investing in exploring C and C++ alternatives⦠But this week, Google also announced similar plans as well... Going forward, Google says it plans to look into developing custom C++ libraries to use with Chrome's codebase, libraries that have better protections against memory-related bugs. The browser maker is also exploring the MiraclePtr project, which aims to turn "exploitable use-after-free bugs into non-security crashes with acceptable performance, memory, binary size and minimal stability impact." And last, but not least, Google also said it plans to explore using "safe" languages, where possible. Candidates include Rust, Swift, JavaScript, Kotlin, and Java.

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Newly-Released Jailbreak Tool Can Unlock Every iPhone and iPad

Sun, 05/24/2020 - 08:34
An anonymous reader quotes TechCrunch: A renowned iPhone hacking team has released a new "jailbreak" tool that unlocks every iPhone, even the most recent models running the latest iOS 13.5. [9to5Mac points out it also works on iPads.] For as long as Apple has kept up its "walled garden" approach to iPhones by only allowing apps and customizations that it approves, hackers have tried to break free from what they call the "jail," hence the name "jailbreak...." The jailbreak, released by the unc0ver team, supports all iPhones that run iOS 11 and above, including up to iOS 13.5, which Apple released this week. Details of the vulnerability that the hackers used to build the jailbreak aren't known, but it's not expected to last forever... Security experts typically advise iPhone users against jailbreaking, because breaking out of the "walled garden" vastly increases the surface area for new vulnerabilities to exist and to be found.

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As Russia Stalks US Satellites, a Space Arms Race May Be Heating Up

Sun, 05/24/2020 - 06:34
Russia "is now challenging the United States' long-standing supremacy in space and working to exploit the U.S. military's dependence on space systems for communications, navigation, intelligence, and targeting." That's the argument made in The Bulletin by a former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer who writes about technology and military strategy, Cold War history, and European security affairs (in an article shared by Lasrick). Moscow is developing counter-space weapons as a part of its overall information warfare strategy. For example, Russia just tested an anti-satellite missile system designed to destroy satellites in low earth orbit. Moreover, military leaders in Russia view U.S. satellites as the key enablers of America's ability to execute rapid, agile, and global military operations; they are intent on echoing this success and modernizing their own military satellites to more effectively support Russian forces. Since the end of the Cold War, the number of countries with space programs has markedly increased. Many of them are actively developing space weapons. China, for example, has an operational ground-launched anti-satellite system, according to the U.S. intelligence community. India successfully tested its own space weapon in 2019. France announced that it will launch a series of armed satellites. Even Iran is believed to be able to develop a rudimentary anti-satellite weapon in the near term... Space systems are essential for warfighting on Earth and the large growth in the number of countries fielding space weapons means the likelihood that outer space will be transformed into a battlefield has increased... Russia is the only country, however, that is reportedly approaching U.S. satellites in an aggressive manner... Moscow's destabilizing behavior could prompt the United States to take a more aggressive posture in space in the future... Russia has been taking advantage of the lack of international consensus on what constitutes acceptable behavior in space... It seems clear that Russia is likely testing how the United States and its allies might react to aggressive space behaviors and is gaining important insights into American national security space capabilities... In 2019, former Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said that at some point, the United States needs the ability to "hit back." Russia's destabilizing actions in space could, therefore, fuel a dangerous arms race in space.

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Open Source Security Report Finds Library-Induced Flaws in 70% of Applications

Sun, 05/24/2020 - 02:34
The State of Software Security (SOSS): Open Source Edition "analyzed the component open source libraries across the Veracode platform database of 85,000 applications which includes 351,000 unique external libraries," reports TechRepublic. "Chris Eng, chief research officer at Veracode, said open source software has a surprising variety of flaws." "An application's attack surface is not limited to its own code and the code of explicitly included libraries, because those libraries have their own dependencies," he said. The study found that 70% of applications have a security flaw in an open source library on an initial scan. Other findings from the report: The most commonly included libraries are present in over 75% of applications for each language. 47% of those flawed libraries in applications are transitive. More than 61% of flawed libraries in JavaScript contain vulnerabilities without corresponding common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs). Fixing most library-introduced flaws can be done with a minor version upgrade. Using any given PHP library has a greater than 50% chance of bringing a security flaw along with it.

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With Highway Traffic Down, Are Reckless Drivers Still Increasing Highway Fatalities?

Sat, 05/23/2020 - 22:34
Highway patrols across America "are reporting a rise in reckless driving," writes ABC News. Slashdot reader quonset shared their report: In Connecticut, traffic has been cut in half compared to last year, but fatal motor vehicle accidents are up by about 40%. "We're finding that with the open roads, certain individuals are taking this as an opportunity to push their vehicles to the limit," Connecticut State Police Trooper Josue Dorelus told ABC News' Transportation Correspondent Gio Benitez. Dorelus said they have seen a 90% increase in cars going over 15 miles above the speed limit during the coronavirus pandemic... "When you're going in excess of 100 miles an hour, these crashes are inevitably going to be fatal or near fatal," Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety President Cathy Chase told ABC News. In Massachusetts, the fatality rate for car crashes is rising. In Minnesota, motor vehicle crashes and fatalities have more than doubled compared to the same time period in previous years... Pam Shadel Fischer, the Governors Highway Safety Association's senior director of external engagement, said it could be because it is harder for drivers to gauge their own speed without other drivers on the road. I wonder if that percentage increase of fatalities appears higher in a low-population states like Connecticut (3.565 million people). The article also notes that in California (population 39.5 million), their Highway Patrol "issued nearly 2,500 citations statewide for driving over 100 miles per hour from mid-march to mid-April -- an 87% jump from the same time last year..." But another article points out that from March 19 to April 30, the overall number of crashes in California dropped 75% while the number of people killed declined by 88%, and there was a 62% decrease in injuries (plus a 42% drop in DUI arrests). Interestingly, that same article points out that from late March 19 to May 13 there were 6,043 citations for driving over 100 miles per hour -- so it's spiked by 3,543 in the last month since "mid-April", to a number that's over 1,000 more than the month before.

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Munich Says It's Now Shifting Back From Microsoft to Open Source Software -- Again

Sat, 05/23/2020 - 20:34
Newly-elected politicians in Munich "have decided its administration needs to use open-source software, instead of proprietary products like Microsoft Office," reports ZDNet: "Where it is technologically and financially possible, the city will put emphasis on open standards and free open-source licensed software," a new coalition agreement negotiated between the recently elected Green party and the Social Democrats says. The agreement was finalized May 10 and the parties will be in power until 2026. "We will adhere to the principle of 'public money, public code'. That means that as long as there is no confidential or personal data involved, the source code of the city's software will also be made public," the agreement states... Munich began the move away from proprietary software at the end of 2006... By 2013, 80% of desktops in the city's administration were meant to be running LiMux software. In reality, the council continued to run the two systems — Microsoft and LiMux — side by side for several years to deal with compatibility issues. As the result of a change in the city's government, a controversial decision was made in 2017 to leave LiMux and move back to Microsoft by 2020. At the time, critics of the decision blamed the mayor and deputy mayor and cast a suspicious eye on the US software giant's decision to move its headquarters to Munich. In interviews, a former Munich mayor, under whose administration the LiMux program began, has been candid about the efforts Microsoft went to to retain their contract with the city. The migration back to Microsoft and to other proprietary software makers like Oracle and SAP, costing an estimated €86.1m ($93.1m), is still in progress today. "We're very happy that they're taking on the points in the 'Public Money, Public Code' campaign we started two and a half years ago," Alex Sander, EU public policy manager at the Berlin-based Free Software Foundation Europe, tells ZDNet. But it's also important to note that this is just a statement in a coalition agreement outlining future plans, he says. "Nothing will change from one day to the next, and we wouldn't expect it to," Sander continued, noting that the city would also be waiting for ongoing software contracts to expire. "But the next time there is a new contract, we believe it should involve free software."

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