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How Dumb Policies Scare Tech Giants Away From Federal Projects

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the you-get-what-you-pay-for dept.

United States 143

An anonymous reader writes "A study published in March found that that the reason why the U.S. government has sub-par IT programs is because leading commercial IT companies established in the U.S. aren't involved in government contracting. Either the government holds closed bidding, essentially stifling competition to its own disadvantage, or prospective companies are put off by the cost-prohibitive regulations associated with government acquisition given the low returns (less than 10% as compared to 20% or more in the commercial world). The dysfunction that results has been documented by the Government Accountability Office: of 15 Department of Defense IT projects studied, 11 had cost increases (one of which was by 2,333%), 13 had schedule slippages (one of which was by six years), and only three met system performance goals. If the U.S. wants to lead other governments in technical capabilities by tapping into the technology being developed within its own borders, then some say that instead of exemptions and workarounds such as was applied with Healthcare.gov, a complete rebuild of the whole acquisition program would need to be implemented."

USPTO Approves Amazon Patent For Taking Pictures

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the not-even-on-the-internet-will-save-you dept.

Businesses 152

An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Patent Office granted Amazon a patent in March that basically describes taking a picture with a white background. Amazon claims that their method is unique to current photography methods because they can achieve the effect of a true white background without retouching the photo or using any sort of post-processing technique. Some professional photographers disagree, claiming that plenty of prior art exists embodying Amazon's described method and furthermore that this pre-existing method is what the photography industry calls 'shooting against a seamless white backdrop.'"

The Next Unreal Tournament: Totally Free, Developed By Public

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the cool-model dept.

Open Source 122

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Epic Games is rebooting Unreal Tournament, but not in a typical way. A small team of veteran developers will begin work on the next edition of the popular, multi-player shooter, in collaboration with pretty much anyone who wants to participate. "From the very first line of code, the very first art created and design decision made, development will happen in the open, as a collaboration between Epic, UT fans and UE4 developers. We'll be using forums for discussion, and Twitch streams for regular updates," reads a note on the company's blog. All code and content will appear on GitHub, and development will focus on Mac, Linux, and Windows. What's the catch? According to Epic, it'll take months to forge a playable game. "When the game is playable, it will be free. Not free to play, just free," the blog adds. "We'll eventually create a marketplace where developers, modders, artists and gamers can give away, buy and sell mods and content. Earnings from the marketplace will be split between the mod/content developer, and Epic. That's how we plan to pay for the game.""

Wretched Ride: PS4 Driveclub Game Rental Tied To Paid Subscription

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the utility-company's-involved-too dept.

Sony 93

MojoKid (1002251) writes "The upcoming PS4 game Driveclub is making waves for reasons that have nothing to do with its gameplay or development status. In a new video, the company has spelled out its free trial and upgrade policies, and the requirements are a doozy. First, the good news — PlayStation Plus subscribers will be able to download a demo of the game that contains a few maps and one trial area, India. If you choose to upgrade that version, the full title will cost you $50. Here's the catch — that purchase is tied to your Playstation Plus subscription. In other words, if you stop paying Sony the official $49.95 a year for PlayStation Plus, you lose your $50 game. This is completely at odds with how PlayStation Plus membership is supposed to work. It contradicts Sony's official FAQ, which states that: 'Any content you purchase with a Plus discount is yours to keep, regardless of you membership status.'"

Ask Slashdot: Practical Alternatives To Systemd?

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the going-forward dept.

Debian 533

First time accepted submitter systemDead (3645325) writes "I looked mostly with disinterest at Debian's decision last February to switch to systemd as the default init system for their future operating system releases. The Debian GNU/Linux distribution is, after all, famous for allowing users greater freedom to choose what system components they want to install. This appeared to be the case with the init system, given the presence of packages such as sysvinit-core, upstart, and even openrc as alternatives to systemd.

Unfortunately, while still theoretically possible, installing an alternative init system means doing without a number of useful, even essential system programs. By design, systemd appears to be a full-blown everything-including-the-kitchen-sink solution to the relatively simple problem of starting up a Unix-like system. Systemd, for example, is a hard-coded dependency for installing Network Manager, probably the most user-friendly way for a desktop Linux system to connect to a wireless or wired network. Just this week, I woke up to find out that systemd had become a dependency for running PolicyKit, the suite of programs responsible for user privileges and permissions in a typical Linux desktop.

I was able to replace Network Manager with connman, a lightweight program originally developed for mobile devices. But with systemd infecting even the PolicyKit framework, I find myself faced with a dilemma. Should I just let systemd take over my entire system, or should I retreat to my old terminal-based computing in the hope that the horde of the systemDead don't take over the Linux kernel itself?

What are your plans for working with or working around systemd? Are there any mainstream GNU/Linux distros that haven't adopted and have no plans of migrating to systemd? Or is migrating to one of the bigger BSD systems the better and more future-proof solution?"

Feds Issue Emergency Order On Crude Oil Trains

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the what-about-a-line-of-pipes dept.

Earth 211

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Joan Lowy writes for AP that the Department of Transportation has issued an emergency order requiring that railroads inform state emergency management officials about the movement of large shipments of crude oil through their states and urged shippers not to use older model tanks cars that are easily ruptured in accidents, even at slow speeds. The emergency order follows a warning two weeks ago from outgoing National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman that the department risks a 'higher body count' as the result of fiery oil train accidents if it waits for new safety regulations to become final. There have been nine oil train derailments in the U.S. and Canada since March of last year, many of them resulting in intense fires and sometimes the evacuation of nearby residents, according to the NTSB. The latest was last week, when a CSX train carrying Bakken crude derailed in downtown Lynchburg, Va., sending three tank cars into the James River and shooting flames and black smoke into the air. Concern about the safe transport of crude oil was heightened after a runaway oil train derailed and then exploded last July in the small town of Lac-Megantic in Canada, just across the border from Maine. More than 60 tank cars spilled more than 1.3 million gallons of oil. Forty-seven people were killed and 30 buildings destroyed in the resulting inferno. Hersman says that over her 10 years on the board she has 'seen a lot of difficulty when it comes to safely rules being implemented if we don't have a high enough body count. That is a tombstone mentality. We know the steps that will prevent or mitigate these accidents. What is missing is the will to require people to do so.'"

Electromagnetic Noise Found To Affect Bird Navigation

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the or-did-you-mean-magnetic-north? dept.

Earth 71

Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "A 7-year German study has come to a troubling conclusion: the EM noise from human activities is interfering with birds' magnetic 'compass' [paywalled paper, but above-average abstract], and potentially disrupting migratory behavior. While science is unclear how the birds' compasses work, it is theorized it employs the quantum phenomenon of electron spin. As the lead researcher, Prof Henrik Mouritsen, is quoted as saying, 'A very small perturbation of these electron spins would actually prevent the birds from using their magnetic compass.' The BBC has a nice summary article, as well."

In SF: an App For Auctioning Off Your Public Parking Spot

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the markets-in-everything dept.

The Almighty Buck 427

trbdavies (979982) writes 'Only in San Francisco' used to refer to issues like whether public nudity should be restricted to certain hours of the day. Now I hear it most often in connection with the interplay between the city and tech companies. SF Weekly reports on one such development: 'Anyone who's visited San Francisco for 35 minutes knows that easy parking is a rare find. Enter Paolo Dobrowolny, an Italian tech bro who decided San Francisco was the perfect spot to test out his new experiment. Here's how it works: You find a parking spot, revel a little, let Monkey Parking know where you're located, and watch the bidding begin. Finally, give your spot to the wealthiest victim willing to pay the highest price for your spot. Drive away that much richer.'" Update: 05/08 15:52 GMT by T : I suspect that Dobrowolny's a tech pro, rather than bro, or at least that's what I suspect the Weekly meant to say.

McAfee Grabbed Data Without Paying, Says Open Source Vulnerability Database

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the but-don't-say-they-didn't-ask dept.

Security 139

mask.of.sanity (1228908) writes with this excerpt from The Register: "'Intel security subsidiary McAfee may be in hot water after it allegedly scraped thousands of records from the Open Source Vulnerability Database instead of paying for them. The slurp was said to be conducted using fast scripts that rapidly changed the user agent, and was launched after McAfee formally inquired about purchasing a license to the data.' Law experts say the site's copyright could be breached by individuals merely downloading the information in contravention to the site's policies, and did not require the data to be subsequently disseminated."

ACLU and EFF Endorse Weaker USA Freedom Act Passed By Committee

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the dialing-it-back dept.

United States 107

First time accepted submitter sumakor (3571543) writes "The House Judiciary Committee has advanced a weakened version of the USA Freedom Act (HR3361). The amended compromise version allows collection of phone call records up to two hops away from a target, potentially including millions of customer records, and allows for collection without a judge's order in emergency cases. The amended bill also drops the requirement for a privacy advocate who can appeal the rulings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and extends the controversial Section 215 of the Patriot Act from 2015 through 2017.

Despite these significant changes the amended bill has been endorsed by the ACLU and the EFF as a first step and the most promising path towards reigning in government surveillance. The two organizations called for further Congressional measures to tighten control of surveillance authorities including an explicit definition of the term 'selector,' a reduction in the number of hops from 2 to 1 under most circumstances and the closing the loophole that allows searches of Americans' data inadvertently collected thru Section 702.

The bill now proceeds to the House Intelligence Committee, who has advanced its competing bill, the FISA Transparency and Modernization Act (HR 4291). The committee will mark up both bills on the same day, beginning at 10am Thursday, behind closed doors."

Tesla Logged $713 Million In Revenue In Q1 and Built 7,535 Cars

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the numbers-are-in dept.

The Almighty Buck 131

cartechboy (2660665) writes "Tesla just announced its first-quarter earnings and the numbers are interesting. It logged revenue of $713 million on deliveries of 6,457 Model S electric cars. It's worth noting that's basically the number of vehicles it said it would sell in the quarter, but that number is slightly down from the prior quarter. It built a total of 7,535 Model S cars in the quarter as it built inventory as shipments began to China where sales just started last month. Net orders in North America grew 10 percent, and production for the second quarter is expected to increase to 8,500-9,000 Model S cars. Tesla expects to deliver 35,000 cars during the 2014 calendar year. Musk told analysts that China's enthusiastic and that government support is crucial. The Model X is delayed until spring of 2015 with production-design prototypes being ready in the fourth quarter. Tesla hopes to possibly break ground as early as next month on its gigafactory, though the location has yet to be announced. Of course, the stock market is already reacting to these numbers and is currently down nearly 3 percent in after hours trading."

London Police To Wear Video Cameras In Pilot Project

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the keeping-an-eye-on-things dept.

United Kingdom 152

An anonymous reader writes "The London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is reportedly engaging in a year-long pilot program to determine the benefits of its police force wearing video cameras during interactions with the public. 'The pilot will include a total of 500 cameras distributed across ten city boroughs.' London joins some major U.S. cities in this endeavor to improve the quality of policing through the use of wearable cameras. Privacy advocates argue, however, that police officers having these devices on their persons is not enough: 'the efficacy of police body-mounted cameras as a crime reduction and accountability tool hinges on enforcement of good policies and procedures—including something as basic as preventing officers from being able to deactivate the cameras at their own discretion.'"

Let Spouses of H-1B Visa Holders Work In US, Says White House

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the bring-your-spouse dept.

United States 566

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Carolyn Lochhead reports in the SF Chronicle that the White House has announced a plan allowing spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the United States, a coup for Silicon Valley companies that have been calling for more lenient rules for immigrants who come to the United States to work in technology. 'The proposals announced today will encourage highly skilled, specially trained individuals to remain in the United States and continue to support U.S. businesses and the growth of the U.S. economy,' says Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. 'A concurrent goal is for the United States to maintain competitiveness with other countries that attract skilled foreign workers and offer employment authorization for spouses of skilled workers. American businesses continue to need skilled nonimmigrant and immigrant workers.'

Currently, spouses of H-1B visa holders are not allowed to work unless they obtain their own visa but tech companies have been calling for more H-1B visas, and supporters of the rule change argue that it will bring in more talented workers. Critics say they believe expanding the H-1B visa program will allow lower-paid foreign workers to take American jobs. The plan immediately drew fire from Republicans. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, accused the administration of acting unilaterally to change immigration law and bring in tens of thousands of potential competitors with Americans for jobs. 'Fifty million working-age Americans aren't working,' Sessions said in a statement, adding that as many as 'half of new technology jobs may be going to guest workers. This will help corporations by further flooding a slack labor market, pulling down wages.'"

$200 For a Bound Textbook That You Can't Keep?

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the because-textbook-buyers-have-had-it-too-good-for-too-long dept.

DRM 252

netbuzz writes: "The worst of DRM is set to infest law school casebooks. One publisher, AspenLaw, wants students to pay $200 for a bound casebook, but at the end of class they have to give it back. Aspen is touting this arrangement as a great deal because the buyer will get an electronic version and assorted online goodies once they return the actual book. But they must return the book. Law professors and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are calling it nothing but a cynical attempt to undermine used book sales, as well as the first sale doctrine that protects used bookstores and libraries."

Stanford Getting Rid of $18 Billion Endowment of Coal Stock

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the unconflicting-itself-of-interests dept.

Education 208

mdsolar sends this report from the NY Times: "Stanford University announced Tuesday that it would divest its $18.7 billion endowment of stock in coal-mining companies, becoming the first major university to lend support to a nationwide campaign to purge endowments and pension funds of fossil fuel investments. The university said it acted in accordance with internal guidelines that allow its trustees to consider whether 'corporate policies or practices create substantial social injury' when choosing investments. Coal's status as a major source of carbon pollution linked to climate change persuaded the trustees to remove companies 'whose principal business is coal' from their investment portfolio, the university said."

Crytek Open-Sources Their 'Renderdoc' 3D Debugger

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the more-tools-more-power dept.

Graphics 20

An anonymous reader writes "Game studios now seem to be forming a habit out of opening up their debugger / development utilities. After Valve's notable VOGL debugger, Crytek has now decided to open source their Renderdoc debugger. Renderdoc had been available for free use since earlier in the year but now they have posted an MIT-licensed version of the code to GitHub. Renderdoc builds on both Windows and Linux but for now just targets the Direct3D 11 graphics API while OpenGL support is being expected later."

Russia Quietly Passes Anti-Blogger Law

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the just-in-time-for-cold-war-2.0 dept.

The Media 284

randomErr (172078) writes "Russia is tightening its grip on free speech and freedom of the Internet by creating a new 'bloggers law'. This policy follows the pattern set by China, Pakistan, Turkey, and Iran." Any site with more than 3000 daily visitors will be required to register and be held to a number of restrictions, quoting the article: "Besides registering, bloggers can no longer remain anonymous online, and organizations that provide platforms for their work such as search engines, social networks and other forums must maintain computer records on Russian soil of everything posted over the previous six months."

Google Announces "Classroom"

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the anything-is-better-than-blackboard dept.

Google 143

theodp (442580) writes "Meet your new 'Room Mom', kids! On Tuesday, Google announced a preview of Classroom, a new, free tool in the Google Apps for Education suite. From the announcement: 'With Classroom, you'll be able to: [1] Create and collect assignments: Classroom weaves together Google Docs, Drive and Gmail to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly. They can quickly see who has or hasn't completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback to individual students. [2] Improve class communications: Teachers can make announcements, ask questions and comment with students in real time—improving communication inside and outside of class. [3] Stay organized: Classroom automatically creates Drive folders for each assignment and for each student. Students can easily see what's due on their Assignments page.'

Addressing privacy concerns, Google reassures teachers, 'We know that protecting your students' privacy is critical. Like the rest of our Apps for Education services, Classroom contains no ads, never uses your content or student data for advertising purposes, and is free for schools.' After the recent torpedoing of Bill Gates' $100M inBloom initiative, Google might want to have a privacy pitch ready for parents, too!"

GitHub Open Sources Atom, Their Text Editor Based On Chromium

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the emacs-does-it-better dept.

Programming 121

First time accepted submitter aojensen (1503269) writes "GitHub has made good on promises to open source Atom, a programmer's text editor based on Chromium. Atom is released under the MIT license (source repository). GitHub announced the following on their blog: 'Because we spend most of our day in a text editor, the single most important feature we wanted in an editor was extensibility. Atom is built with the same open source technologies used by modern web browsers. ... But more importantly, extending Atom is as simple as writing JavaScript and CSS, two languages used by millions of developers each day.'

Apart from being extensible via HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, Atom also offers out-of-the-box Node.js integration, a modular design with a built-in package manager (apm), and extensive features such as file system browser, themes, project-wide search and replace, panes, snippets, code folding, and more. Launched only 10 weeks ago, Atom seems to have a well-established ecosystem of packages and extensions already."
The editor is based on atom-shell, a more general framework for building desktop apps using JavaScript/HTML. Beware: according to the FAQ, by default it sends "usage data" to Google Analytics (which can be disabled at least).

EVE Online's Space Economy Currently Worth $18 Million

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the where-can-i-go-to-invest-in-imaginary-spaceships dept.

Sci-Fi 88

DavidGilbert99 writes: "According to Eyjólfur Guðmundsson, the lead economist of CCP Games, developer of EVE Online, the total amount of ISK (InterStellar Kredits) in the system at the moment is 600 trillion, which equates to about $18 million in real world money — and the economist believes we could learn a lot from how the economy works in the game. There was a massive battle within the game earlier this year, which CCP estimated destroyed between $300,000 and $330,000 worth of game materials. Guðmundsson said, 'In economics there is a big difference between consumption and loss. In EVE, the war is the consumption of the economy. Even though they are giving money away they are not losing value, they are gaining something instead. People were willing to spend that money [in the Battle of B-R5RB] to get this thrill of participating in this battle.'"

Dropbox and Box Leaked Shared Private Files Through Google

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the everything's-secure-until-it-isn't dept.

Cloud 92

judgecorp writes: "People using shared storage providers such as Box and Dropbox are leaking data, a competitor has discovered. Links to shared files leak out when those links are accidentally put into the Google search box, or if users click links from within the documents. Dropbox competitor Intralinks stumbled across mortgage applications and bank statements while checking Google Analytics data for a Google Adwords campaign. Graham Cluley explains the problem in detail and suggests answers: for Dropbox users, it means upgrading to the Business version, which lets you restrict access to shared document links." Dropbox has posted an official response and disabled access to previously shared links. Box made a vague statement about their awareness of the issue.

The Exploitative Economics of Academic Publishing

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.

Businesses 72

v3rgEz sends this piece from the Boston Globe: "Taxpayers in the United States spend $139 billion a year on scientific research, yet much of this research is inaccessible not only to the public, but also to other scientists. This is the consequence of an exploitative scientific journal system that rewards academic publishers while punishing taxpayers, scientists, and universities. Fortunately, cheap open-access alternatives are not only possible, but already beginning to take root, as this article explores in-depth: 'Why is it so expensive to publish in these open-access journals? According to the journals, these fees defray their publication and operating costs. However, this argument is undermined by the existence of open-access journals that charge authors nothing and have negligible operating costs. One prominent example is the Journal of Machine Learning Research (JMLR), one of the top publications in the field of machine learning. JMLR has a similar editorial process to many other journals, with a volunteer editorial board and an automated system for managing the peer-review process. Unlike many closed-access publishers, it does not take any advertising. MIT provides the web server for hosting JMLR, which would otherwise cost around $15 per year. The biggest expense is paying for a tax accountant to deal with paperwork so JMLR can maintain its tax-exempt status. Altogether, the total cost of running JMLR since it was founded in 2000 is estimated to be less than $7,000, or $6.50 per article published. This proves that cheap open-access publishing is possible.'"

US Military Drones Migrating To Linux

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the arming-the-penguin dept.

Government 197

DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "Raytheon is switching its UAV control system from Solaris to Linux for U.S. military drones, starting with a Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout helicopter. Earlier this month Raytheon entered into a $15.8 million contract with the U.S. Navy to upgrade Raytheon's control systems for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), according to a recent Avionics Intelligence report. The overhaul is designed to implement more modern controls to help ground-based personnel control UAVs. Raytheon's tuxified version of its Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Air Vehicle Tactical Control System (TCS) will also implement universal UAV control qualities. As a result the TCS can be used in in all U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps UAVs that weigh at least 20 pounds. By providing an open standard, the common Linux-based platform is expected to reduce costs by limiting the types of UAV control systems that need to be built and maintained for each craft."

US Climate Report Says Global Warming Impact Already Severe

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the but-it-was-cold-yesterday dept.

Earth 627

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Darryl Fears reports in the Washington Post on the U.S. government's newest national assessment of climate change. It says Americans are already feeling the effects of global warming. The assessment carves the nation into sections and examines the impacts: More sea-level rise, flooding, storm surge, precipitation and heat waves in the Northeast; frequent water shortages and hurricanes in the Southeast and Caribbean; more drought and wildfires in the Southwest. 'Residents of some coastal cities see their streets flood more regularly during storms and high tides. Inland cities near large rivers also experience more flooding, especially in the Midwest and Northeast. Insurance rates are rising in some vulnerable locations, and insurance is no longer available in others. Hotter and drier weather and earlier snow melt mean that wildfires in the West start earlier in the spring, last later into the fall, and burn more acreage. In Arctic Alaska, the summer sea ice that once protected the coasts has receded, and autumn storms now cause more erosion, threatening many communities with relocation.' The report concludes that over recent decades, climate science has advanced significantly and that increased scrutiny has led to increased certainty that we are now seeing impacts associated with human-induced climate change. 'What is new over the last decade is that we know with increasing certainty that climate change is happening now. While scientists continue to refine projections of the future, observations unequivocally show that climate is changing and that the warming of the past 50 years is primarily due to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases.'"

Anti-Virus Is Dead (But Still Makes Money) Says Symantec

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the look-for-antivirus-with-the-rms-serial-of-approval dept.

Security 254

judgecorp (778838) writes "Symantec says anti-virus is dead but the company — the world's largest IT security firm — still makes 40 percent of its revenue there. AV now lets through around 55 percent of attacks, the company's senior vice president of information security told the Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, other security firms including FireEye, RedSocks and Imperva are casting doubt on AV, suggesting a focus on data loss prevention might be better."

Skepticism Grows Over Claims That MH370 Lies In the Bay of Bengal

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the homeopathic-jet-fuel dept.

The Media 126

Sockatume (732728) writes "The latest episode of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Mediawatch program addresses GeoResonance's claims to have found the lost Malasia Airlines MH370 in the Bay of Bengal. They attribute the company's sudden prominence to increasing desperation amongst the press. Meanwhile, the Metabunk web site has been digging into the people and technology behind GeoResonance and its international siblings, finding noted pseudoscientist Vitaly Gokh and a dubious variation on Kirlian photography."

Earthquake Warning Issued For Central Oklahoma

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the cthulhu-rises dept.

Earth 127

New submitter bobbied (2522392) writes "A rare warning has been issued by the US Geological survey today, warning of an increased risk of a damaging earthquake (magnitude 5.0 or greater) in central Oklahoma. There have been more earthquakes in Oklahoma (per mile) than California this year, prompting the USGS to issue their warning today (May 5, 2014).

This warning is the first such warning to be issued for a state east of the Rockies."

Microsoft Cheaper To Use Than Open Source Software, UK CIO Says

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the cliche-about-free-time dept.

United Kingdom 589

colinneagle (2544914) writes "Jos Creese, CIO of the Hampshire County Council, told Britain's 'Computing' publication that part of the reason is that most staff are already familiar with Microsoft products and that Microsoft has been flexible and more helpful. 'Microsoft has been flexible and helpful in the way we apply their products to improve the operation of our frontline services, and this helps to de-risk ongoing cost,' he told the publication. 'The point is that the true cost is in the total cost of ownership and exploitation, not just the license cost.' Creese went on to say he didn't have a particular bias about open source over Microsoft, but proprietary solutions from Microsoft or any other commercial software vendor 'need to justify themselves and to work doubly hard to have flexible business models to help us further our aims.'"

Students Remember Lectures Better Taking Notes Longhand Than Using Laptops

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the blame-keyboards dept.

Education 191

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Walk into any university lecture hall and you're likely to see row upon row of students sitting behind glowing laptop screens. Laptops in class have been controversial, due mostly to the many opportunities for distraction that they provide (online shopping, browsing Reddit, or playing solitaire, just to name a few). But few studies have examined how effective laptops are for the students who diligently take notes. Now Robinson Meyer writes at The Atlantic that a new study finds that people remember lectures better when they've taken handwritten notes, rather than typed ones. The research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing. 'Our new findings suggest that even when laptops are used as intended — and not for buying things on Amazon during class — they may still be harming academic performance,' says psychological scientist Pam Mueller of Princeton University, lead author of the study. Laptop note takers' tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning. If you can type quickly enough, word-for-word transcription is possible, whereas writing by hand usually rules out capturing every word. 'We don't write longhand as fast as we type these days, but people who were typing just tended to transcribe large parts of lecture content verbatim,' says Mueller. 'The people who were taking notes on the laptops don't have to be judicious in what they write down.'"

The Feds Accidentally Mailed Part of A $350K Drone To Some College Kid

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the finders-keepers dept.

Government 157

Jason Koebler (3528235) writes "A Redditor got more than he bargained for in the mail today: He was accidentally mailed parts to a $350,000 environment and wildlife monitoring drone owned by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. 'We sent a set of about eight boxes for this one aircraft system, and one was misdelivered by UPS. We're working with UPS to find it,' the federal agency says."

Sony Warns Demand For Blu-Ray Diminishing Faster Than Expected

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the can-we-just-have-emusic-for-video-already dept.

Data Storage 477

Lucas123 (935744) writes "Sony has warned investors that it expects to take a hit on expected earnings (PDF), due in part to the fact that demand for Blu-ray Disc media is contracting faster than anticipated. In two weeks, Sony will announce its financial results. The company expects to post a net loss. Sony's warning is in line with other industry indicators, such as a report released earlier this year by Generator Research showed revenue from DVD and Blu-ray sales will likely decrease by 38% over the next four years. By comparison, online movie revenue is expected to grow 260% from $3.5 billion this year to $12.7 billion in 2018, the report states. Paul Gray, director of TV Electronics & Europe TV Research at market research firm DisplaySearch, said consumers are now accustomed to the instant availability of online media, and 'the idea of buying a physical copy seems quaint if you're under 25.'" Especially when those copies come with awful DRM.

Chernobyl's Sarcophagus, Redux

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the looking-back dept.

Earth 121

Lasrick (2629253) writes "With the news that a multinational consortium is to the halfway point in constructing a huge stainless steel hangar that will sit over the ruined site of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, Dan Drollette looks in the archives of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and compares notes on the sarcophagus that was built 25 years ago, and the one that is being built now. 'No one really knows what went into the "concrete cube;" even the amount of concrete claimed to have been used is suspect, as it would form a volume larger than the sarcophagus, wrote nuclear engineer and author Alexander R. Sich in his 11-page article, "Truth was an early casualty."' Let's hope this new sarcophagus lasts longer."

US Government To Study Bitcoin As Possible Terrorist Threat

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the taking-a-good-look dept.

Bitcoin 210

randomErr (172078) writes "The US Department of Defense is investigating whether Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are a potential terrorist threat. The Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), a division within DOD that identifies and develops counter terrorism abilities and investigates irregular warfare and evolving threats, has listed Bitcoin among its topics for research and mission critical analysis related to terrorism."

Book Review: Extending Bootstrap

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Books 27

First time accepted submitter ericnishio (3641743) writes "Extending Bootstrap is a concise, step by step manual that introduces some of the best practices on how to customize Twitter Bootstrap for your projects. As the title suggests, you will be learning how to extract the good parts of Bootstrap to create a fully customized package. But be advised: the book is not for beginners." Read below for ericnishio's review.

Mozilla Offers FCC a Net Neutrality Plan With a Twist

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the how-about-this? dept.

United States 123

An anonymous reader writes "The Mozilla Foundation is filing a petition asking the FCC to declare that ISPs are common carriers, with a twist. 'The FCC doesn't have to reclassify the Internet access ISPs offer consumers as a telecommunications service subject to common carrier regulations under Title II of the Communications Act, Mozilla says. Instead, the FCC should target the service ISPs offer to edge providers like Netflix and Dropbox, who need to send their bits over ISP networks to reach their customers. Classifying the ISP/edge provider relationship as a common carrier service will be a little cleaner since the FCC wouldn't have to undo several decade-old orders that classified broadband as an "information" service rather than telecommunications, Mozilla argues.'" Here's the Mozilla blog post and the 13-page petition.

California City Considers Restarting Desalination Plant To Fight Drought

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the water-water-everywhere dept.

Earth 420

First time accepted submitter SaraLast (3619459) writes in with news about Santa Barbara considering the restart of its desalination plant. "This seaside city thought it had the perfect solution the last time California withered in a severe drought more than two decades ago: Tap the ocean to turn salty seawater to fresh water. The $34 million desalination plant was fired up for only three months and mothballed after a miracle soaking of rain. As the state again grapples with historic dryness, the city nicknamed the "American Riviera" has its eye on restarting the idled facility to hedge against current and future droughts. "We were so close to running out of water during the last drought. It was frightening," said Joshua Haggmark, interim water resources manager. "Desalination wasn't a crazy idea back then." Removing salt from ocean water is not a far-out idea, but it's no quick drought-relief option. It takes years of planning and overcoming red tape to launch a project. Santa Barbara is uniquely positioned with a desalination plant in storage. But getting it humming again won't be as simple as flipping a switch."

Ask Stewart Brand About Protecting Resources and Reviving Extinct Species

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.

Earth 59

samzenpus (5) writes "Stewart Brand trained as a biologist at Stanford, was associated with Ken Kesey and the "Merry Pranksters", and served as an Infantry officer in the U.S. Army. His books include Whole Earth Discipline: The Rise of Ecopragmatism, The Clock of the Long Now, How Buildings Learn, and The Media Lab. He is the founder/editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, the co-founder of The Long Now Foundation, The WELL, and the Global Business Network. His latest project, Revive & Restore, may be his most ambitious yet. Revive and Restore aims to bring back extinct species and provide genetic rescue for endangered species that are spiraling down with inbreeding problems. Mr. Brand has agreed to answer any questions you may have but please limit yourself to one question per post."

Kerry Says US Is On the "Right Side of History" When It Comes To Online Freedom

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the everything-is-good dept.

United States 261

An anonymous reader writes "Addressing the audience at the Freedom Online Coalition Conference, Secretary of State John Kerry defended NSA snooping actions saying: 'Let me be clear – as in the physical space, cyber security cannot come at the expense of cyber privacy. And we all know this is a difficult challenge. But I am serious when I tell you that we are committed to discussing it in an absolutely inclusive and transparent manner, both at home and abroad. As President Obama has made clear, just because we can do something doesn't mean that we should do it. And that's why he ordered a thorough review of all our signals intelligence practices. And that's why he then, after examining it and debating it and openly engaging in a conversation about it, which is unlike most countries on the planet, he announced a set of concrete and meaningful reforms, including on electronic surveillance, in a world where we know there are terrorists and others who are seeking to do injury to all of us. And finally, transparency – the principles governing such activities need to be understood so that free people can debate them and play their part in shaping these choices. And we believe these principles can positively help us to distinguish the legitimate practices of states governed by the rule of law from the legitimate practices of states that actually use surveillance to repress their people. And while I expect you to hold the United States to the standards that I've outlined, I also hope that you won't let the world forget the places where those who hold their government to standards go to jail rather than win prizes.' He added: 'This debate is about two very different visions: one vision that respects freedom and another that denies it. All of you at the Freedom Online Coalition are on the right side of this debate, and now we need to make sure that all of us together wind up on the right side of history."

Scientists Race To Develop Livestock That Can Survive Climate Change

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the just-need-to-outrun-you dept.

Earth 291

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Evan Halper writes in the LA Times that with efforts to reduce carbon emissions lagging, researchers, backed by millions of dollars from the federal government, are looking for ways to protect key industries from the impact of climate change by racing to develop new breeds of farm animals that can stand up to the hazards of global warming. ""We are dealing with the challenge of difficult weather conditions at the same time we have to massively increase food production" to accommodate larger populations and a growing demand for meat, says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. For example a team of researchers is trying to map the genetic code of bizarre-looking African naked-neck chickens to see if their ability to withstand heat can be bred into flocks of US broilers. "The game is changing since the climate is changing," says Carl Schmidt. "We have to start now to anticipate what changes we have to make in order to feed 9 billion people," citing global-population estimates for 2050." (More below.)

ISS Studies Show Bacteria From Earth Could Colonize Mars

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the let's-get-this-process-underway dept.

Mars 103

As reported by Tech Times, research conducted aboard the ISS has shown that Earth bacteria could survive the rigors of travel to Mars better than might be expected. "Research into bacterial colonization on the red planet was not part of the plan to terraform the alien world ahead of human occupation. Instead, three teams investigated how to prevent microbes from Earth from hitching a ride to the red planet aboard spacecraft. It is nearly impossible to remove all biological contaminants from equipment headed to other planets. By better understanding what organisms can survive in space or on the surfaces of other worlds, mission planners can learn which forms of microscopic life to concentrate on during the sanitation process. 'If you are able to reduce the numbers to acceptable levels, a proxy for cleanliness, the assumption is that the life forms will not survive under harsh space conditions,' Kasthuri Venkateswaran of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and co-author of all three papers, said."

Finally, Hi-Def Streaming Video of the ISS's View of Earth

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the extra-monitor-over-the-crib dept.

Earth 97

An anonymous reader writes with a snippet from ExtremeTech: "After being continuously inhabited for more than 13 years, it is finally possible to log into Ustream and watch the Earth spinning on its axis in glorious HD. This video feed [embedded at ExtremeTech] comes from from four high-definition cameras, delivered by last month's SpaceX CRS-3 resupply mission, that are attached to the outside of the International Space Station. You can open up the Ustream page at any time, and as long as it isn't night time aboard the ISS, you'll be treated to a beautiful view of the Earth from around 250 miles (400 km) up."

Linus Torvalds Receives IEEE Computer Pioneer Award

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the what's-that-guy-done-anyhow dept.

Open Source 141

mikejuk (1801200) writes "Linus Torvalds, the 'man who invented Linux' is the 2014 recipient of the IEEE Computer Society's Computer Pioneer Award, '[f]or pioneering development of the Linux kernel using the open-source approach.' According to Wikipedia, Torvalds had wanted to call the kernel he developed Freax (a combination of 'free,' 'freak,' and the letter X to indicate that it is a Unix-like system), but his friend Ari Lemmke, who administered the FTP server it was first hosted for download, named Torvalds' directory linux. In some ways Git can be seen as his more important contribution — but as it dates from 2005 it is outside the remit of the IEEE Computer Pioneer award."

Let's Call It 'Climate Disruption,' White House Science Adviser Suggests (Again)

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the let's-just-settle-on-nuclear-winter dept.

Earth 568

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "First there was 'global warming.' Then many researchers suggested 'climate change' was a better term. Now, White House science adviser John Holdren is renewing his call for a new nomenclature to describe the end result of dumping vast quantities of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into Earth's atmosphere: 'global climate disruption.'"

Is There a Limit To a Laser's Energy?

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the of-course-there-isn't dept.

Shark 135

StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "For normal matter — things like protons, neutrons and electrons — there's a fundamental limit to the number of particles you can fit into a given region of space thanks to the Pauli exclusion principle. But photons aren't subject to that limit; in theory, you could cram an infinite number of them into the same exact state. In principle, then, couldn't you create a laser (or lasing cavity) with an infinite amount of energy inside? Perhaps, but there are some big challenges to be overcome!"

How To Find Nearby Dark Skies, No Matter Where You Are

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the look-for-the-planetarium-signs dept.

Space 55

StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "For those of us living in or around large cities — and that's most of us — we're completely divorced from dark, clear night skies as part of our routine experience. But even though our skies may typically rate a seven or higher on the Bortle Dark Sky Scale, that doesn't mean that significantly darker skies aren't accessible. Here's how to install an interactive light pollution map for yourself, and find the darkest skies near you no matter where you are! (North American-centric, but resources are provided for those elsewhere in the world.)"

Ask Slashdot: Which VHS Player To Buy?

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the and-which-8-track dept.

Media 201

stkpogo (799773) writes "I have several old VHS tapes that I'd like to digitize but my old VHS machine died years ago. What's a good VHS player to get so I can make nice clean digital videos from my old tapes before they're gone? I have a few TV -> USB adapters." How would you go about this, especially with tapes (like old home movies) you might be worried about sticking into a low-end VCR? And with what number of tapes does it make sense to outsource the digitizing?

Kids To Get the Best CS Teachers $15/Hr Can Buy

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the what-about-great-volunteers dept.

The Almighty Buck 157

theodp (442580) writes "Billionaire-backed Code.org, enthusiastically tweets U.S. Dept. of Education Chief Arne Duncan, is 'providing tremendous leadership in bringing coding & computer science to our nation's schools.' Including bringing kids in Broward County Public Schools the best computer science teachers $15.00-an-hour can buy, according to a document on the school district's website. One wonders how the Broward teachers feel about Code.org apparently coughing up $38.33-an-hour for Chicago teachers who attend the required Code.org professional development, which ironically covers equity issues. Duncan's shout-out comes days after Code.org claimed in its Senate testimony that 'our students have voted with their actions [participating in an hour-long, Angry Birds-themed Blockly tutorial starring Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates]: that learning computer science is this generation's Sputnik moment, that it's part of the new American Dream, and that it should be available to every student, in every school, as part of the standard curriculum.'"

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