Australian Authorities Consider Throttling High-Frequency Trading

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission, an independent financial regulator, is reportedly considering a 500-millisecond delay on electronic stock trading to slow the pace of high-frequency trading. High-frequency trading is a software-driven form of stock market trading that uses sophisticated algorithms enabling trades to be executed in microseconds, yielding profits from very small changes in the share prices. There are concerns the speed provides undue advantage to high-frequency traders and deters long-term traders from participating in the market. The practice is reportedly costing long-term investors roughly $2 billion/year, according to Australian Financial Review. (SlashDot)(Computerworld)(Australian Financial Review)

Researchers Produce Airframe Quickly with 3D Printing

Scientists at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Center have made a drone’s airframe using only 3D printing. This let them produce the airframe and have it flying within a day, and use less material in the process. The researchers made a blended-wing aircraft using fused deposition modeling, in which layers of a material are built up to make an object. Typically, the process requires additional material to support the structure during printing, which adds to the cost and construction time. The University of Sheffield scientists’ design eliminates the support material by changing the geometry of the design. Their design structure contains no critical angles that would require such support material. Their airframe has a 1.5-meter wingspan and weighs less than 2 kg without the motor and electronics. They are also designing a new version of the airframe that has a greater wing span and that will be able to fly longer and faster, and carry bigger payloads. (SlashDot)(Gizmag)(Advanced Manufacturing Research Center)

Seagate Releases “World’s Fastest” 6-terabyte Drive

 Seagate now offers a 6-terabyte hard drive the company claims to be “the world's fastest,” with an operating speed of 7,200 rpm. This would make the Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD v4 25 percent faster than any competing drive of this size. Seagate designed the new 3.5-inch drive to meet the needs of corporate users, particularly cloud services providers. “Unstructured data growth is doubling exponentially and will propel the digital universe to reach 16 zettabytes (16 × 1021 bytes) of data by as early as 2017,” according to Seagate vice president of marketing Scott Horn. "This will cause cloud service providers to look for innovative ways to store more within an existing footprint while lowering operational costs.” Seagate increased the density of its drives from 831 to 1,000 bits per square inch, which means they are able to hold more data. This is a 50 percent increase from the previous generation of storage technology, according to Seagate. The new drive will also be available in 5-, 4-, and 2-Tbyte capacities and comes with self-encryption and a humidity sensor. Pricing details were not released. The drive will be available via Seagate’s cloud partners and resellers. (PC Mag)(Computerworld)(Seagate)

Password Theft Affects 18 Million Computer Users

German officials are investigating the discovery of about 18 million stolen email passwords. The Federal Office for Information Security, the German Internet security agency, found that at least 3 million of the discovered passwords belong to German users, according to Interior Ministry spokesperson Harald Neymanns. Law-enforcement officials from Verden in northwest Germany made the discovery. In compliance with German data-protection laws, officials didn’t say where the passwords originated or how they were stolen, but did say the discovery was made during research into botnet activity.  (The Associated Press)(Deutsche Welle)

Israel Prepares for Cyberattacks

The Israeli government is stopping Internet access to foreign traffic through this week to avoid a cyberattack it expects pro-Palestinian hackers to launch. The military, law-enforcement agencies, and major companies have also prepared themselves for hacking or website defacement attempts. For example, the government may refuse electronic payments from abroad and postpone routine website maintenance. The government also reportedly instructed civil servants not to open email from foreign senders. (Reuters)(FARS News Agency)

Debates Surface over US Computer Science Degrees’ Return on Investment

A survey by PayScale of the return on investment (ROI) on US college degrees in various majors found that computer science graduates make the most money after graduation. However, the findings are only part of the debate over the best value for the educational dollar. PayScale—an online employee compensation-information company—calculated ROI based on the total amount graduates could expect to earn over the next 20 years above what they could expect to earn without a degree, minus the cost of the education. Nine of the survey’s top 10 college-major pairings in terms of ROI were computer science majors. A Stanford economics degree was the only other degree foundin the survey’s top 10 most valuable degrees. Some schools on the list of top-ranked colleges for computer science majors include public institutions such as the Colorado School of Mines (for in-state students) but consist mainly of private institutions like Harvey Mudd College, the California Institute of Technology, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford University. On the other hand, IT World, an IT-information website, looked at ROI on computer-science degrees, and found the best value generally to be public schools for in-state residents. IT World’s top five schools were the University of Virginia; the University of Washington; the Georgia Institute of Technology; the University of California, Berkeley; and Harvard University. “If you're just thinking of college as a financial investment, studying computer science at one of your state's public universities is the way to go,” concluded IT World. “Of course, that's purely based on raw financial numbers and it doesn't take into account other important things that can affect one’s college experience, like the location, the choice of extracurricular activities, and the quality of the dining hall food. You (or your child) will have to do that math yourselves.” (SlashDot)(PayScale)(The Atlantic)(IT World)

Financial Systems Are Vulnerable as Windows XP Support Ends

Despite Microsoft repeatedly heralding the end of Windows XP support, analysts say several types of financial systems are vulnerable as their operators will likely keep running the 12-year-old operating system. The problem is that systems such as independent automated teller machines (ATMs) and small businesses’ credit-card-sales systems are likely to continue running XP—for which supported ended on April 8—because of the high cost and inconvenience of upgrading. For upgrades to Windows 7, some retailers could pay $1,700 for a single-store credit-card payment system and ATM vendors could pay between $4,000 to 5,000 per machine. If new ATM hardware is needed, that could cost another $50,000 and $60,000 per device.



The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council has warned retailers about the security risks of continuing to use XP systems but does not require them to upgrade their systems to operate on credit-card networks. Security analysts say malware writers sold new XP exploits that hackers have stockpiled in anticipation of Windows XP’s support ending. (TIME)(ZD Net)

Technology Increases US Maple Syrup Production

Maple syrup production is a seasonal business reliant on traditional operations. A common challenge is the leaks or flow-clogging bends in the lines running sap between trees and sugar houses caused by issues such as fallen tree limbs or hungry animals. Typically, crews check lines by listening and looking for leaks in the snow, an often daunting and ineffective task. Now, though, various remote-monitoring technologies are increasing productivity. For example, the Tap Track system monitors the pressure in sap lines via sensors and uses solar-battery-powered radio units to transmit the resulting data to a computer or smartphone. A test site with 20,000 maple taps in Ontario, Canada, increased sap collection by about 5 percent, netting an additional $15,000 in the course of a single season. (The Associated Press)

Users Hum or Whistle Tunes, and this App Produces Sheet Music

A new application is being designed to help users create written music simply by whistling or humming a melody into a microphone. Evan Balster, who is crowdfunding Imitone via Kickstarter, said the application’s goal is to transcribe sounds into musical notation. The multiplatform application essentially functions as a MIDI controller by taking those sounds made into a microphone and converting them into MIDI signals. This enables a user’s voice to become a digital instrument. “Four years ago, a stroke took away the fine motor skills of my left hand and has made playing piano frustrating,” wrote Greg Krywusha, a financial supporter of the project. “With the advent of [Imitone], the songs in my head may finally be envisioned.” Balster plans on licensing the technology for use in other applications. (Nextsound)(Ars Technica)(Kickstarter)

Digital Tool Displays Taxi-Sharing Benefits

MIT researchers have developed a tool that lets users see the possible energy and time savings that sharing taxi rides could generate. The HubCab tool is based on a dataset consisting of 170 million single-passenger taxi trips by all 13,500 licensed New York City taxis in 2011, complete with all pickup and drop-off points’ GPS coordinates. The tool uses OpenStreetMap street shapes segmented with Python imported into a Mongo database. During their research, the scientists found that taxi-sharing could reduce the number of trips by 40 percent. Were there device-enabled taxi sharing networks available, this could result in less traffic congestion costs, and pollution they say. HubCab is a project of the MIT Senseable City Lab, which investigates the convergence and changes digital technologies are bringing to cities and their inhabitants.  (SlashDot)(Co.Design)(HubCab @MIT Senseable City Lab)

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