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Updated: 13 min 44 sec ago

Microsoft Introduces GVFS (Git Virtual File System)

Fri, 03/02/2017 - 2:40pm
Saeed Noursalehi, principal program manager at Microsoft, writes on a blog post: We've been working hard on a solution that allows the Git client to scale to repos of any size. Today, we're introducing GVFS (Git Virtual File System), which virtualizes the file system beneath your repo and makes it appear as though all the files in your repo are present, but in reality only downloads a file the first time it is opened. GVFS also actively manages how much of the repo Git has to consider in operations like checkout and status, since any file that has not been hydrated can be safely ignored. And because we do this all at the file system level, your IDEs and build tools don't need to change at all! In a repo that is this large, no developer builds the entire source tree. Instead, they typically download the build outputs from the most recent official build, and only build a small portion of the sources related to the area they are modifying. Therefore, even though there are over 3 million files in the repo, a typical developer will only need to download and use about 50-100K of those files. With GVFS, this means that they now have a Git experience that is much more manageable: clone now takes a few minutes instead of 12+ hours, checkout takes 30 seconds instead of 2-3 hours, and status takes 4-5 seconds instead of 10 minutes. And we're working on making those numbers even better.

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Amazon Now Has More Than 341,000 Employees -- Added 110,000 People Last Year

Fri, 03/02/2017 - 2:00pm
Amazon added more than 110,000 employees during the past year, topping 341,000 people as of the end of 2016 thanks largely to a significant increase in the Seattle-based tech giant's network of fulfillment centers around the world and further expansion of its businesses in several overseas new markets. From a report: Amazon employed just 32,000 people globally five years ago. Amazon's net growth of more than 110,000 people during the past year almost rivals Microsoft's total employment of 120,000 people as of Dec. 31. That comparison of Microsoft and Amazon isn't apples-to-apples given the differences in their businesses, but it gives a sense of the scope of Amazon's employment base. Amazon employs about 40,000 people in Washington state, compared to 45,000 for Microsoft. Amazon doesn't show any signs of slowing down. The company said previously that it plans to add another 100,000 full-time jobs in the U.S. over the next 18 months.

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Nvidia Stops Promotional Game Resales By Tying Codes To Hardware

Fri, 03/02/2017 - 1:00pm
Nvidia is putting a stop to the resale of bundled promotional game keys by tying them to a specific graphics card purchase, according to Ars Technica. Users will now have to redeem codes via the GeForce Experience (GFE) app, which is directly linked to third-party services like Steam and Uplay. Users must also ensure that the requisite graphics card is "installed before redemption." GFE then performs "a hardware verification step to ensure the coupon code is redeemed on the system with the qualifying GPU." From the report: Previously, retailers sent promotional game codes to customers that purchased a qualifying product. Those codes could then be redeemed on Nvidia's website, which spit out the relevant Steam, Uplay, Origin, or Microsoft Store key. Since the promotional game codes were not tied to a specific account, many users took to either gifting spare keys to friends or selling them on eBay in order to offset the cost of the graphics card purchase. [Ars Technica has updated their report with additional information:] Nvidia has confirmed that while GFE checks to ensure a user has installed a qualifying graphics card like a GTX 1070 or GTX 1080, the game itself is not permanently linked to the hardware. GFE's hardware check is based only on the wider product range, and not on a specific serial number. The company has also confirmed that the redemption process permanently adds the game to the appropriate third-party service. For example, if users redeems a promotional game key through to Steam, that game will be useable on any other device, just like normal Steam games. Users can also opt to uninstall GFE, or install a different graphics card, once the promotional code has been redeemed and still retain full ownership of the game. A full set of instructions for redeeming codes is now available on Nvidia's website.

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Electric Car Battery Prices Fell By 80% In the Last 7 Years, Says Study

Fri, 03/02/2017 - 10:00am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Electrek: A new study published this month by McKinsey and Company looks into how automakers can move past producing EVs as compliance cars and "drive electrified vehicle sales and profitability." Unsurprisingly, it describes battery economics as an important barrier to profitability and though the research firm sees a path to automakers making a profit selling electric vehicles as battery costs fall, it doesn't see that happening for "the next two to three product cycles" -- or between 2025 and 2030. That's despite battery costs falling from ~1,000 per kWh in 2010 to ~$227 per kWh in 2016, according to McKinsey. The company wrote in the report: "Despite that drop, battery costs continue to make EVs more costly than comparable ICE-powered variants. Current projections put EV battery pack prices below $190/kWh by the end of the decade, and suggest the potential for pack prices to fall below $100/kWh by 2030." Automakers capable of staying ahead of that cost trend will be able to achieve higher margins and possible profits on electric vehicle sales sooner. Tesla is among the automakers staying ahead of the trend. While McKinsey projects that battery pack prices will be below $190/kWh by the end of the decade, Tesla claims to be below $190/kWh since early 2016. That's how the automaker manages to achieve close to 30% gross margin on its flagship electric sedan, the Model S. Tesla aims to reduce the price of its batteries by another 30% ahead of the Model 3 with the new 2170 cells in production at the Gigafactory in Nevada. It should enable a $35,000 price tag for a vehicle with a range of over 200 miles, but McKinsey sees $100/kWh as the target for "true price parity with ICE vehicles (without incentives)": "Given current system costs and pricing ability within certain segments, companies that offer EVs face the near-term prospect of losing money with each sale. Under a range of scenarios for future battery cost reductions, cars in the C/D segment in the US might not reach true price parity with ICE vehicles (without incentives) until between 2025 and 2030, when battery pack costs fall below $100/kWh, creating financial headwinds for automakers for the next two to three product cycles." UPDATE 2/3/17: We have changed the source to Electrek and quoted McKinsey and Company -- the company that conducted the study.

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Hacker Dumps iOS Cracking Tools Allegedly Stolen From Cellebrite

Fri, 03/02/2017 - 7:00am
Last year, when Apple refused to unlock the security on an iPhone 5c belonging to the San Bernardino shooter, the FBI turned to an Israeli mobile forensics firm called Cellebrite to find another way into the encrypted iPhone. Now Motherboard reports that a hacker has released files allegedly from Cellebrite that demonstrate how cracking tools couldn't be kept private. From a report: Now the hacker responsible has publicly released a cache of files allegedly stolen from Cellebrite relating to Android and BlackBerry devices, and older iPhones, some of which may have been copied from publicly available phone cracking tools." The ripped, decrypted and fully functioning Python script set to utilize the exploits is also included within," the hacker wrote in a README file accompanying the data dump. The hacker posted links to the data on Pastebin. It's not clear when any of this code was used in the UFED. Many of the directory names start with "ufed" followed by a different type of phone, such as BlackBerry or Samsung. In their README, the hacker notes much of the iOS-related code is very similar to that used in the jailbreaking scene -- a community of iPhone hackers that typically breaks into iOS devices and release its code publicly for free.

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Mexican Surgeon Uses VR Headset To Distract Patients During Surgery

Fri, 03/02/2017 - 3:30am
dryriver writes: The BBC has a longish story on a Mexican surgeon who makes his patients wear a VR headset that distracts them from the surgical procedure being performed on them. While Dr Mosso cuts and removes and stitches, the patient flies through a 3D VR re-creation of Machu Picchu or other fantastical places, oblivious to being in an otherwise -- for many patients -- stress inducing surgical setting. This removes the need to give patients powerful sedatives or painkillers to keep them calm and prevent their blood pressure from fluctuating. The surgeon only anesthetizes the part of the body where the surgery is performed, while the patient is absorbed in colorful and immersive VR worlds. An excerpt from the report: "The surgeon makes his first cut and blood spills down Ana's leg. She's surrounded by medical equipment -- stools, trolleys, swabs, syringes -- with super-bright surgical lamps suspended above the bed. Her vital signs are displayed on monitors just behind. But Ana is oblivious. She's immersed in a three-dimensional re-creation of Machu Picchu. She begins her journey with a breathtaking aerial view of the ancient city clinging to the mountainside, before swooping down to explore the details of stepped terraces, moss-covered walls and tiny stone huts. Mosso watches her carefully. A 54-year-old surgeon at Panamerican University in Mexico City, he's on a mission to bring virtual reality into the operating room. Mosso is using VR as a high-tech distraction technique, allowing surgeons to carry out operations that would normally require powerful painkillers and sedatives, with nothing more than local anaesthetic. He's trying to prove that reducing drug doses in this way not only slashes costs for Mexico's cash-strapped hospitals, but cuts complications and recovery times for patients too."

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