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Kevlar Protects Cables From Sharks, Experts Look For Protection From Shark Week

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the just-when-you-thought-it-was-safe-to-turn-on-the-TV dept.

Shark 103

Brandon Butler writes As an ode to Shark Week: Sharks have been known to show an appetite for fiber cables underwater, and last week a Google official said to prevent sharks from wreaking havoc on the company's trans-Pacific fiber lines, it wraps them in Kevlar. It's believed that the emission of electrical currents from the fiber piping is mistaken by sharks occasionally as prey. In related news, a growing number of scientists are becoming disgruntled with the Discovery network's sensationalist programs. Many shark experts are refusing to work with the channel after such programs as their Megalodon "documentary" and their latest Shark of Darkness (not to mention the mermaid special, which was sadly missing a singing crab.)

Sockatume writes The Verge has an article on Discovery's hugely successful Shark Week, discussing how the increasing sensationalist special event misrepresents science and exploits nature and local history for shock value. Scientists who appeared in and were misrepresented by the channel's programming are beginning to encourage their peers to stay away from the Discovery network, which stands by the programming 's viewing figures.

DARPA Uses Preteen Gamers To Beta Test Tomorrow's Military Software

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the panzer-naturally-speaking dept.

The Military 84

Daniel_Stuckey writes with a story about an interesting (or, you might think, creepy) institution at the University of Washington's Seattle campus. It's the Center for Game Science, a research lab that makes educational video games for children, and that received the bulk of its funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the wing of the U.S. Department of Defense that supports research into experimental military technology. Why is DARPA the original primary funder of the CGS? According to written and recorded statements from current and former DARPA program managers, as well as other government documents, the DARPA-funded educational video games developed at the CGS have a purpose beyond the pretense of teaching elementary school children STEM skills.

Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the ask-your-users dept.

Software 199

New submitter fpodoo writes "We are going to launch a new version of Odoo, the open source business apps suite. Once a year we release a new version and all the documentation has to be rewritten, as the software evolves a lot. It's a huge effort (~1000 pages, 250 apps) and it feels like we are building on quicksand. I am wondering if it would be better to invest all our efforts in R&D on improving the user experience and building tools in the product to better help the user. Do you know any complex software that succeeded in avoiding documentation by having significantly improved usability? As a customer, how would you feel with a very simple product (much simpler than the competition but still a bit complex) that has no documentation?"

Student Bookstores Beware, Amazon Comes To Purdue Campus

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the saving-bucks-on-books dept.

Books 95

First time accepted submitter Kilroy1218 writes After freezing tuition past their original deadline Purdue University announced a partnership with Amazon today which aside from greatly competitive book pricing "will bring staffed customer order pickup and drop-off locations to Purdue's campus, as well as expedited shipping benefits phased in over the course of the 2014-2015 academic year." “This relationship is another step in Purdue’s efforts to make a college education more affordable for our students,” said President Mitch Daniels. “With the pressure on college campuses to reduce costs, this new way of doing business has the potential to change the book-buying landscape for students and their families.”

California May Waive Environmental Rules For Tesla

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the mother-earth-plays-second-fiddle-to-mother-economy dept.

Transportation 327

cartechboy writes: We all know Tesla is working on its Gigafactory, and it has yet to announce officially where it will be. But the automaker did announce a shortlist of possible locations, and California wasn't on it. The state has quickly been trying to lure Tesla to get back into contention. Now the state may waive environmental rules which would normally make construction of such a large manufacturing facility more difficult. Apparently, Governor Jerry Brown's office is currently negotiating an incentive package for Tesla that would waive certain parts of the nearly half-century-old California Environmental Quality Act. Not only that, but state officials are reportedly considering letting Tesla begin construction and perform damage mitigation later, along with limiting lawsuits that could slow down the project. Let's not forget some massive tax breaks, to the tune of $500 million. Is California stepping out of bounds here?

Why the Public Library Beats Amazon

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the where-do-i-sign-up-for-library-Prime dept.

Books 165

Nate the greatest writes: The launch of Kindle Unlimited last month has many questioning the value of public libraries, with one pundit on Forbes even going so far as to proclaim that the U.K. could save money by shuttering all its libraries and replacing them with Kindle Unlimited subscriptions. Luckily for libraries, they're safe for now because they still beat Kindle Unlimited and its competitors in at least one category: content you want to read. As several reviewers have noted, Kindle Unlimited is stocked almost entirely with indie titles, with a handful of major titles thrown in. Even Scribd and Oyster only have ebooks from two of the five major U.S. publishers, while U.S. public libraries can offer titles from all five. They might be expensive and you might have to get on a waiting list, but as the Wall Street Journal points out, public libraries are safe because they can still offer a better selection. That is true, but I think the WSJ missed a key point: public libraries beat Amazon because they offer services Amazon cannot, including in-person tech support, internet access, and other basic assistance. The fact of the matter is, you can't use KU, Scribd, or Oyster if you don't know how to use your device, and your local public library is the best place to learn.

Ask Slashdot: Corporate Open Source Policy?

Unknown Lamer posted about a month and a half ago | from the in-the-open dept.

Open Source 57

Phiro69 (3782875) writes Does anyone have any best practices/experience they would like to share on how their corporate entity put Open Source Software out on the Internet? Historically at my engineering firm, we've followed a model where we internally build a 1.0 release of something we want to open source, the product owner and legal perform a deep review of the release, and we push it out to a platform like Github where it typically sits and rusts.

Our engineering interns have started down a new path: Using Github from the beginning (I set the repo private), and, after a bare minimum is completed, flipping the repo public and continuing development in the open using Github. How do PO and Legal reviews fit in? How can we ensure we're not exposing ourselves or diluting our IP if we're doing semi-constant development, publicly, sans a heavily gated review process? What does everyone else do? Or does corporate America avoid this entire opportunity/entanglement/briar patch?

NASA's Greenhouse Gas Observatory Captures 'First Light'

Unknown Lamer posted about a month and a half ago | from the captain-planet-will-find-you dept.

NASA 143

mdsolar (1045926) writes with news that NASA's second attempt to launch a satellite to map carbon dioxide levels across the globe succeeded, and its instruments are operating properly. From the article: NASA's first spacecraft dedicated to studying Earth's atmospheric climate changing carbon dioxide levels and its carbon cycle has reached its final observing orbit and taken its first science measurements as the leader of the world's first constellation of Earth science satellites known as the International 'A-Train. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) is a research satellite tasked with collecting the first global measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) — the leading human-produced greenhouse gas and the principal human-produced driver of climate change. The 'first light' measurements were conducted on Aug. 6 as the observatory flew over central Papua New Guinea and confirmed the health of the science instrument.

Xbox One Will Play Media from USB Devices, DLNA Servers

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the revolution-will-not-be-streamed dept.

Media 112

New submitter Mauro sends word that Microsoft has announced upcoming Xbox One support for streaming media both from attached USB devices, such as flash drives, and DLNA media servers. Compatibility with a broad list of media formats will be added by the end of the year, including .MKV files. They also followed up last week's announcement of a digital TV tuner with an interesting twist: it will be able to stream broadcasts over a local network to devices running the Smartglass app, which is available on Windows, Android, and iOS.

Getting IT Talent In Government Will Take Culture Change, Says Google Engineer

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the optimizing-for-the-wrong-thing dept.

Government 166

dcblogs writes: Mikey Dickerson, a site reliability engineer at Google, who was appointed Monday by the White House as the deputy federal CIO, will lead efforts to improve U.S. Websites. Dickerson, who worked on the Healthcare.gov rescue last year, said that one issue the government needs to fix is its culture. In describing his experience on the Healthcare.gov effort, he said the workplace was "not one that is optimized to get good work out of engineers." It was a shirt-and-tie environment, and while Dickerson said cultural issues may sound superficial, they are still real. "You don't have to think that the engineers are the creative snowflakes and rock stars that they think they are, you don't have to agree with any of that," Dickerson said in a recent conference presentation posted online. "I'm just telling you that's how they think of themselves, and if you want access to more of them, finding a way to deal with that helps a lot." Engineers want to make a difference, Dickerson said, and he has collected the names of more than 140 engineers who would be willing to take unpaid leave from their jobs to work on a meaningful project.

Type 225 Words per Minute with a Stenographic Keyboard (Video)

Roblimo posted about a month and a half ago | from the you-can-type-faster-if-you-use-more-than-one-finger-at-a-time dept.

Input Devices 109

Joshua Lifton says you can learn to type at 225 words per minute with his Stenosaurus, an open source stenography keyboard that has a not-there-yet website with nothing but the words, "Stenography is about to evolve," on it as of this writing. If you've heard of Joshua it's probably because he's part of the team behind Crowd Supply, which claims, "Our projects raise an average of $43,600, over twice as much as Kickstarter." A brave boast, but there's plenty of brainpower behind the company. Joshua, himself. has a PhD from MIT, which according to his company bio means, "he's devoted a significant amount of his time learning how to make things that blink." But the steno machine is his own project, independent of Crowd Supply.

Stenotype machines are usually most visible when court reporters are using them. They've been around since the 1800s, when their output was holes in paper tape. Today's versions are essentially chorded keyboards that act as computer input devices. (Douglas Engelbart famously showed off a chorded keyboard during his 1968 Mother of All Demos.) Today you have The Open Steno Project, and Stenosaurus is a member. And while Joshua's project may not have an actual website quite yet, it has an active blog. And the 225 WPM claim? Totally possible. The world record for English language stenography is 360 WPM. And you thought the Dvorak Keyboard was fast. Hah! (Alternate Video Link)

3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the can't-you-go-back-to-not-passing-legislation dept.

Space 393

An anonymous reader writes: Phil Plait reports that a trio of U.S. Congressmen are asking NASA to investigate what they call "an epidemic of anomalies" at SpaceX. They sent a memo (PDF) demanding that SpaceX be held accountable to taxpayers for mission delays stemming from the development of new rockets. Plait notes, "[A]s a contractor, the rules are different for them than they would be if NASA themselves built the rockets, just as the rules are for Boeing or any other contractor. In fact, as reported by Space News, NASA didn't actually pay for the development of the Falcon 9; Elon Musk did." He adds, "Another reason this is silly is that every rocket ever made has undergone problems; they are fiendishly complex machines and no design has ever gotten from the drafting board to the launch pad without issues. Sure, SpaceX has experienced launch delays and other problems, but the critical thing to remember is that those problems are noted, assessed, and fixed sometimes within hours or minutes." Plait accuses the congressmen of trying to bury private spaceflight under red tape in order to protect established industries in their own states.

Larry Rosen: A Case Study In Understanding (and Enforcing) the GPL

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the he-actually-wrote-the-book dept.

Businesses 191

lrosen (attorney Lawrence Rosen) writes with a response to an article that appeared on Opensource.com late last month, detailing a court case that arose between Versata Software and Ameriprise Financial Services; part of the resulting dispute hinges on Versata's use of GPL'd software (parsing utility VTD-X, from Ximpleware), though without acknowledging the license. According to the article's author, attorney Aaron Williamson (former staff attorney for the Software Freedom Law Center), "Lawyers for commercial software vendors have feared a claim like this for essentially the entire 20-odd-year lifetime of the GPL: a vendor incorporates some GPL-licensed code into a product—maybe naively, maybe willfully—and could be compelled to freely license the entire product as a result. The documents filed by Amerprise in the case reflect this fearful atmosphere, adopting the classically fear-mongering characterization of the GPL as a 'viral' license that 'infects' its host and 'requires it to become open source, too.'" Rosen writes: I want to acknowledge Aaron's main points: This lawsuit challenges certain assumptions about GPLv2 licensing, and it also emphasizes the effects of patents on the FOSS (and commercial) software ecosystem. I also want to acknowledge that I have been consulted as an expert by the plaintiff in this litigation (Ximpleware vs. Versata, et al.) and so some of what I say below they may also say in court. Read on for the rest (and Williamson's article, too, for a better understanding of this reaction to it). An important take-away: it's not just the license that matters.

Sniffing Out Billions In US Currency Smuggled Across the Border To Mexico

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the don't-steal-the-government-hates-competition dept.

The Almighty Buck 158

An anonymous reader writes "Criminals smuggle an estimated $30 billion in U.S. currency into Mexico each year from the United States, most of it laundered drug money. But researchers say help is on the way for border guards in the form of a portable device that identifies specific vapors given off by U.S. paper money. "We're developing a device that mimics the function of trained dogs 'sniffing' out concealed money, but without the drawbacks, such as expensive training, sophisticated operators, down time and communication limitations," says Suiqiong Li, Ph.D., a member of the research team behind the technology. When developing the device, the researchers first had to figure out which gases money emits and how fast that happens. It turned out that the gases are a set of trace chemicals, including aldehydes, furans and organic acids." What do bitcoins smell like?

Wikipedia Gets Critical Reception from UK Press at Wikimania 2014

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the wikipedia-has-the-right-to-forget-you dept.

Wikipedia 113

metasonix (650947) writes On Sunday the 2014 Wikimania conference in London closed. Wikimania is the major annual event for Wikipedia editors, insiders and WMF employees to meet face-to-face, give presentations and submit papers. Usually they are full of "Wiki-Love" and good feelings; but this year, as the Wikipediocracy blog summarized, Wikipedia and its "god-king" Jimmy Wales came under considerable fire from the UK media — a very unusual occurrence. And much of it was direct criticism of Wales himself, including a very hostile interview by BBC journalist James O'Brien, who had been repeatedly defamed in his Wikipedia biography by persons unknown.

Comcast Drops Spurious Fees When Customer Reveals Recording

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the keep-the-recording-handy dept.

Businesses 368

An anonymous reader writes In yet another example of the quality of Comcast's customer service, a story surfaced today of a Comcast customer who was over-charged for a service that was never provided. At first, the consumer seemed to be on the losing end of a customer service conversation, with Comcast insisting that the charges were fair. But then, the consumer whipped out a recording of a previous conversation that he had with another Comcast representative in which not only was the consumer promised that he wouldn't be charged for services not rendered, but the reason why was explained. Suddenly Comcast conceded, and the fees were dropped. But most telling of all, the Comcast rep implied that she only dropped them because he had taped his previous interaction with Comcast customer service. I wish I had recordings of every conversation that I've ever had with AT&T, the USPS, and the landlord I once had in Philadelphia. Lifehacker posted last year a few tips on the practicality of recording phone calls, using Google Voice, a VoIP service, or a dedicated app. Can anyone update their advice by recommending a good Android app (or iOS, for that matter) designed specifically to record sales and service calls, complete with automated notice?

DEA Paid Amtrak Employee To Pilfer Passenger Lists

Unknown Lamer posted about a month and a half ago | from the have-to-break-the-law-to-protect-the-law dept.

United States 127

Via Ars Technica comes news that an Amtrak employee was paid nearly $900,000 over the last ten years to give the DEA passenger lists outside of normal channels. Strangely enough, the DEA already had access to such information through official channels. From the article: The employee, described as a "secretary to a train and engine crew" in a summary obtained by the AP, was selling the customer data without Amtrak's approval. Amtrak and other transportation companies collect information from their customers including credit card numbers, travel itineraries, emergency contact info, passport numbers, and dates of birth. When booking tickets online in recent years, Amtrak has also collected phone numbers and e-mail addresses. ... Amtrak has long worked closely with the DEA to track drug trafficking activity on its train lines. The Albuquerque Journal reported in 2001 that "a computer with access to Amtrak's ticketing information sits on a desk in the [DEA]'s local office," wrote the ACLU.

Patents That Kill

Unknown Lamer posted about a month and a half ago | from the no-medicine-for-you dept.

Patents 240

wabrandsma (2551008) writes From The Economist: "The patent system, which was developed independently in 15th century Venice and then in 17th century England, gave entrepreneurs a monopoly to sell their inventions for a number of years. Yet by the 1860s the patent system came under attack, including from The Economist. Patents, critics argued, stifled future creativity by allowing inventors to rest on their laurels. Recent economic research backs this up."

Chile Earthquake Triggered Icequakes In Antarctica

Unknown Lamer posted about a month and a half ago | from the continent-vs-continent dept.

Earth 21

sciencehabit (1205606) writes In 2010, a powerful magnitude-8.8 earthquake struck off the coast of central Chile, rocking much of the country and producing tremor as far away as Argentina and Peru. But a new study suggests its effects were felt even farther away—in Antarctica. In the wake of the Maule temblor, the scientists found, several seismic stations on the frozen continent registered 'icequakes,' probably due to fracturing of the ice as the planet's crust shook.

Gas Cooled Reactors Shut Down In UK

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the closing-the-doors dept.

United Kingdom 120

mdsolar writes EDF Energy, the British subsidiary of the French state-controlled utility, said on Monday that it was shutting down three nuclear reactors and that a reactor with a fault that has been shut down since June would remain so. The facilities, which are being investigated as a precaution, generate nearly a quarter of nuclear capacity in Britain. The British Office for Nuclear Regulation said that there had been no release of radioactive material and no injuries. Industry experts did not anticipate much effect on electricity supplies or prices in the short term. EDF said that over the next few days it would idle a second reactor at the facility, Heysham 1, in northwest England. The company said it would also shut down two other reactors of similar design at Hartlepool in northeast England to investigate whether they had the same flaws.

Open-Source Gear For Making Mind-Controlled Gadgets

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the free-your-mind dept.

Open Source 32

the_newsbeagle writes If you've been hankering to control a robotic battle spider with your mind but haven't known how to begin, you're in luck. A startup called OpenBCI is now selling an Arduino-compatible board that any reasonably competent DIYer can use to build a brain-computer interface. The board takes in data from up to 8 EEG scalp electrodes, and hackers are already using it to pull of some good tricks. There's the guy with the battle spiders, and there's a group in L.A. building a paint-by-brain system for a paralyzed graffiti artist.

Every Day Is Goof-Off-At-Work Day At the US Patent and Trademark Office

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the I'll-do-it-later dept.

United States 327

McGruber writes An internal investigation by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office found that some of its 8,300 patent examiners repeatedly lied about the hours they were putting in and many were receiving bonuses for work they did not do. While half of the USPTO's Patent Examiners work from home full time, oversight of the telework program — and of examiners based at the Alexandria headquarters — was "completely ineffective," investigators concluded. The internal investigation also unearthed another widespread problem. More than 70 percent of the 80 managers interviewed told investigators that a "significant" number of examiners did not work for long periods, then rushed to get their reviews done at the end of each quarter. Supervisors told the review team that the practice "negatively affects" the quality of the work. "Our quality standards are low," one supervisor told the investigators. "We are looking for work that meets minimal requirements." Patent examiners review applications and grant patents on inventions that are new and unique. They are experts in their fields, often with master's and doctoral degrees. They earn at the top of federal pay scale, with the highest taking home $148,000 a year.

Geneticists Decry Book On Race and Evolution

samzenpus posted about 1 month ago | from the take-my-name-out-of-your-book dept.

Books 541

sciencehabit writes "A best-seller by former New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade about recent human evolution and its potential effects on human cultures has drawn critical reviews since its spring publication. Now, nearly 140 senior human population geneticists around the world, many of whose work was cited in the book, have signed a letter to The New York Times Book Review stating that Wade has misinterpreted their work. The letter criticizes "Wade's misappropriation of research from our field to support arguments about differences among human societies."

About Half of Kids' Learning Ability Is In Their DNA

samzenpus posted about 1 month ago | from the in-the-cards dept.

Math 227

Taco Cowboy writes with this story about new research that finds a strong genetic component to a child's ability in math and reading. "You may think you're better at reading than you are at math (or vice versa), but new research suggests you're probably equally good (or bad) at both. The reason: The genes that determine a person's ability to tackle one subject influence their aptitude at the other, accounting for about half of a person's overall ability. The study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, used nearly 1,500 pairs of 12-year-old twins to tease apart the effects of genetic inheritance and environmental variables on math and reading ability. The researchers administered a set of math and verbal tests to the children and then compared the performance of different sets of twins. They found that the twins' scores — no matter if they were high or low — were twice as similar among pairs of identical twins as among pairs of fraternal twins. The results indicated that approximately half of the children's math and reading ability stemmed from their genetic makeup.

A complementary analysis of unrelated kids corroborated this conclusion — strangers with equivalent academic abilities shared genetic similarities. What's more, the genes responsible for math and reading ability appear to be numerous and interconnected, not specifically targeted toward one set of skills. These so-called 'generalist genes' act in concert to determine a child's aptitude across multiple disciplines. The finding that one's propensities for math and reading go hand in hand may come as a surprise to many, but it shouldn't. People often feel that they possess skills in only one area simply because they perform slightly worse in the other."

DARPA Wants To Kill the Password

samzenpus posted about 1 month ago | from the at-least-zero-characters-long dept.

United States 383

jfruh writes Many security experts agree that our current authentication system, in which end users are forced to remember (or, more often, write down) a dizzying array of passwords is broken. DARPA, the U.S. Defense Department research arm that developed the Internet, is trying to work past the problem by eliminating passwords altogether, replacing them with biometric and other cues, using off-the-shelf technology available today.

Elementary OS "Freya" Beta Released

timothy posted about 1 month ago | from the so-very-simple dept.

Debian 209

jjoelc (1589361) writes One year after their last release "Luna", Elementary OS (a Linux distribution with a very heavy emphasis on design and usability which draws a lot of comparisons to Mac OS X) Has released the public beta of their latest version "Freya." Using core components from Ubuntu 14.04, "Freya" sports many improvements including the usual newer kernel, better hardware support and newer libraries.Other updates include a GSignon-based online accounts system, improved searches, Grub-free uEFI booting, GTK+ 3.12, an updated theme, and much more. This being a beta, the usual warnings apply, but I would also point out that the Elementary OS Team also has over $5,000 worth of bugs still available on Bountysource which can be a great way to contribute to the project and make a little dough while you are at it.

Toxic Algae Threatens Florida's Gulf Coast

timothy posted about 1 month ago | from the bigger-than-rhode-island-and-providence-plantations dept.

Earth 99

As reported by Discovery News, After Toledo had to temporarily ban residents from using tap water last weekend because of a toxic algae bloom on Lake Erie, you probably figured that we’d filled the quota of bad algae-related news for the summer. No such luck, unfortunately. Off the Gulf Coast of Florida, the biggest red tide bloom seen in Florida in nearly a decade already has killed thousands of fish. The bloom, which contains the microorganism Karenia brevis, may pose a public health threat to Floridians if it washes ashore, which is expected to happen in the next two weeks, according to Reuters. NBC News says this is the largest such bloom seen since 2006 — approximately 50 x 80 miles.

Ask Slashdot: Can Tech Help Monitor or Mitigate a Mine-Flooded Ecosystem?

timothy posted about 1 month ago | from the you'l-lbe-stone-dead-in-a-moment dept.

Earth 123

An anonymous reader writes "The dam break which flooded toxic mining sediments into Quesnel Lake, British Columbia will affect the food web of a very important fisheries ecosystem for many years to come. Here is the challenge; I am asking the people here to come up with suggestions for new and inventive ways to monitor and or help mitigate this horrendous ecological disaster. A large portion of a huge world famous food and sport fishery is at stake. The challenges ahead will take thinking outside the box and might not just be effectively done by conventional means." What would you do, and what kind of budget would it take?

Floridian (and Southern) Governmental Regulations Are Unfriendly To Solar Power

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the texas-seems-ok-about-this dept.

Government 306

An anonymous reader writes with a link to a story in the LA Times: "Few places in the country are so warm and bright as Mary Wilkerson's property on the beach near St. Petersburg, Fla., a city once noted in the Guinness Book of World Records for a 768-day stretch of sunny days. But while Florida advertises itself as the Sunshine State, power company executives and regulators have worked successfully to keep most Floridians from using that sunshine to generate their own power. Wilkerson discovered the paradox when she set out to harness sunlight into electricity for the vintage cottages she rents out at Indian Rocks Beach. She would have had an easier time installing solar panels, she found, if she had put the homes on a flatbed and transported them to chilly Massachusetts. While the precise rules vary from state to state, one explanation is the same: opposition from utilities grown nervous by the rapid encroachment of solar firms on their business."

Chicago Mayor Praises Google For Buying Kids Microsoft Surfaces

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the non-denominational dept.

Education 137

theodp (442580) writes "Google earned kudos from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel this week for teaming up with Staples to fund the projects of 367 of the city's 22,519 public school teachers on "begfunding" site DonorsChoose.org. "Everything that you asked for...every project that the teachers put on to help their students learn, exceed and excel here in the city of Chicago, you now have fully funded," Mayor Emanuel said. "Chicago's hardworking public school teachers are doing all that they can-and more-to support their students, but they need more help," said Rob Biederman, head of Chicago Public Affairs at Google. "We jumped at the chance to join with DonorsChoose.org and Staples to make Chicago's local classroom wishes come true." So what kind of dreams did Google make possible? Ironically, a look at Google Chicago's Giving Page shows that the biggest project funded by Google was to outfit a classroom with 32 Microsoft Surface RT tablets for $12,531, or about 6.5% of the $190,091 Google award. Other big ticket projects funded by Google included $5,931 for a personal home biodiesel kit and $5,552 for a marimba (in the middle of the spectrum was $748 for "Mindfulness Education"). In addition to similar "flash-funding" projects in Atlanta (paper towels!) and the Bay Area, Google and DonorsChoose have also teamed up this year to reward teachers with $400,000 for recruiting girls to learn to code (part of Google's $50 million Made With Code initiative) and an unknown amount for AP STEM teachers who passed Google muster (part of Google's $5 million AP STEM Access grant)."

Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the home-schooling-never-stops dept.

Education 421

Around the world, American schools' long summer break is viewed as an anomaly, and the long summer seems to be getting shorter. While most American primary and secondary schools used to start after Labor Day, more and more of them now open sometime in August (and that's not counting the ones that have gone to a year-round schedule). Some of my younger relatives started a new school year last week (in Indiana), while Baltimore schools start later this month. Both Seattle and Portland's kids have until after Labor Day (with start dates of the 3rd and 4th of September, respectively). The 4th is also the start date for students in New York City's public schools, the country's largest district. Colleges more often start in September, but some get a jump start in August, especially with required seminars or orientation programs for new students. Whether you're in school, out of school, or back in school by proxy (packing lunches or paying tuition), what time does (or did) your school-year start? Would you prefer that your local public schools run all year round, if they're of the long-summer variety? (And conversely, if your local schools give short shrift to summer, whether that's in the U.S. or anywhere else, do you think that's a good idea?)

Netflix Now Works On Linux With HTML5 DRM Video Support In Chrome

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the better-than-impossible dept.

Chrome 201

An anonymous reader writes "Beginning with the Chrome 38 Beta it's now possible to watch Netflix without any Wine/Silverlight plug-ins but will work natively using Chrome's DRM-HTML5 video capabilities with Netflix. The steps just involve using the latest beta of Chrome and an HTTP user-agent switcher to tell Netflix you're a Windows Chrome user, due to Netflix arbitrarily blocking the Linux build."

For Fast Internet in the US, Virginia Tops the Charts

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the averages-verses-actuals dept.

United States 98

According to data gathered by Akamai, an analysis from Broadview Networks comes to the conclusion that the top five U.S. states for broadband speed are Virginia (at the top of the list, with an average transfer speed of 13.78 Mbps), Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Washington, with Washington, D.C. slightly edging out the similarly-named state; Alaska comes in dead last. These are average speeds, though, and big states have more variation to account for, including connections in the hinterlands. You could still have a fast connection in Chattanooga, or be stuck on dial-up in the Texas panhandle.

Brookings Study Calls Solar, Wind Power the Most Expensive Fossil Alternatives

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the but-they're-also-the-sexiest dept.

Earth 409

turkeydance (1266624) writes A new study [PDF] from the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, argues that using solar and wind energy may be the most expensive alternatives to carbon-based electricity generation, even though they require no expenditures for fuel.....Specifically, this means nuclear power offers a savings of more than $400,000 worth of carbon emissions per megawatt of capacity. Solar saves only $69,000 and wind saves $107,000. An anonymous reader points out that the Rocky Mountain Institute finds the Brookings study flawed in several ways, and offers a rebuttal.

Wyoming's Natural Trap Cave Yields Huge Trove of Animal Remains

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the you'd-think-the-name-would-tip-them-off dept.

Earth 31

A cave in Wyoming that's easy to fall into, and hard to escape, has become a treasure trove for scientists. Scientists excavating an ancient Wyoming sinkhole containing a rare trove of fossils of Ice Age mammals have unearthed hundreds of bones of such prehistoric animals as American cheetahs, a paleontologist said on Friday. The two-week dig by an international team of researchers led by Des Moines University paleontologist Julie Meachen marked the first exploration of Natural Trap Cave at the base of the Bighorn Mountains in north-central Wyoming since its initial discovery in the 1970s. ... Meachen said the extensive excavation that began late last month uncovered roughly 200 large bones of animals like horses that roamed North America from 12,000 to 23,000 years ago and an uncounted number of microfossils of creatures such as birds, lizards and snakes. ... A number of animals that fell 85 feet to their deaths after stumbling into the 15-foot-wide mouth of the cavern were unusually well preserved by cold and damp conditions, Meachen said.

NFL Fights To Save TV Blackout Rule Despite $9 Billion Revenue

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the why-I-always-miss-the-quidditch-matches dept.

Television 216

An anonymous reader writes with word of new movement on an old front: namely, the rule that makes it hard for sports fans to see coverage of local teams. The 39-year-old blackout rule basically "prevents games from being televised locally when tickets remain unsold." The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in response to a 2011 petition by consumers, has decided to consider abolishing this rule. The National Football League (NFL) has of course objected, claiming that the rule allows it to keep airing their games on free TV. If that were to change and they would have to move to cable, they argue, the "result would represent a substantial loss of consumer welfare." In their petition to the FCC, consumers point out that the NFL charges "exorbitant prices for tickets" which results in lower attendance. The blackout rule, they claim, therefore punishes fans by preventing them from watching the game if the NFL can't sell enough stadium tickets. NFL yearly profits reportedly number in the billions. Even if the FCC supports the petition, however, sports leagues can and probably will privately negotiate blackouts to boost their revenue.

Judge Rejects $324.5 Million Settlement For Tech Workers, Argues For More

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the sticking-it-to-the-men dept.

The Courts 268

An anonymous reader writes with this news from Reuters: A U.S. district judge on Friday ruled that the $324.5 million settlement negotiated by Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe with the tech workers who brought an antitrust lawsuit against them was too low. The judge cited the settlement amount of a similar lawsuit brought against Disney and Intuit last year which resulted in plaintiffs obtaining proportionally more for lost wages. And yet, according to the judge, the current plaintiffs have "much more leverage". She cited evidence clearly showing Apple's Steve Jobs strong-arming the other companies in the suit into agreeing to a no-employee-poaching agreement, and in one instance, of Google failing to rope in Facebook into a similar agreement which resulted in a 10% increase of all Google employee salaries. In other words, clear evidence that the no-poaching agreement effectively suppressed the salaries of these companies' tech workers. Another hearing is scheduled for September 10.

Leaked Docs Show Spyware Used To Snoop On US Computers

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the who's-zoomin'-who dept.

United States 135

Advocatus Diaboli writes Software created by the controversial UK-based Gamma Group International was used to spy on computers that appear to be located in the United States, the UK, Germany, Russia, Iran, and Bahrain, according to a leaked trove of documents analyzed by ProPublica. It's not clear whether the surveillance was conducted by governments or private entities. Customer e-mail addresses in the collection appeared to belong to a German surveillance company, an independent consultant in Dubai, the Bosnian and Hungarian Intelligence services, a Dutch law enforcement officer, and the Qatari government.

Ask Slashdot: Life Beyond the WRT54G Series?

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the blue-pill-that-stacks-neatly dept.

Networking 427

First time accepted submitter jarmund (2752233) writes "I first got a WRT54GL in 2007. Now, 7 years later, it's still churning along, despite only having one of its antennae left after an encounter with a toddler. As it is simply not up to date to today's standards (802.11N for example), what is a worthy successor? I enjoyed the freedom to choose the firmware myself (I've run Tomato on it since 2008), in addition to its robustness. A replacement will be considered second-rate unless it catered for the same freedom as its predecessor." Is there a canonical best household router nowadays?

The ESports Athletes Who Tried To Switch Games

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the obscure-sports-quarterly dept.

The Almighty Buck 146

An anonymous reader writes "Michael Jordan's infamous attempt at baseball aside, athletes have sometimes switched sports successfully in the past — and perhaps a sure a sign as any that eSports are coming of age is pro gaming's top players are now trying to do the same. A new feature looks at the top players who've tried to make the jump from one first person shooter to another, or even between genre — from StarCraft 2 to League of Legends — and finds that while some have thrived, others has shown that each title can require a very particular, and sadly non-transferrable, skill set."

Russia Cracks Down On Public Wi-Fi; Oracle Blocks Java Downloads In Russia

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the interesting-times dept.

Censorship 254

Linking to a story at Reuters, reader WilliamGeorge writes "Russia is further constraining access to the internet and freedom of speech, with new laws regarding public use of WiFi. Nikolai Nikiforov, the Russian Communications Minister, tweeted that "Identification of users (via bank cards, cell phone numbers, etc.) with access to public Wifi is a worldwide practice." This comes on top of their actions recently to block websites of political opponents to Russian president Vladimir Putin, require registration of prominent bloggers, and more. The law was put into effect with little notice and without the input of Russian internet providers. Sergei Plugotarenko, head of the Russian Electronic Communications Association, said "It was unexpected, signed in such a short time and without consulting us." He added, "We will hope that this restrictive tendency stops at some point because soon won't there be anything left to ban." In addition to the ID requirement to use WiFi, the new law also requires companies to declare who is using their web networks and calls for Russian websites to store their data on servers located in Russia starting in 2016." That's not the only crackdown in progress, though: former Slashdot code-wrestler Vlad Kulchitski notes that Russian users are being blocked from downloading Java with an error message that reads, in essence, "You are in a country on which there is embargo; you cannot download JAVA." Readers at Hacker News note the same, though comments there indicate that the block may rely on a " specific and narrow IP-block," rather than being widespread. If you're reading this from Russia, what do you find?

Long-Wave Radar Can Take the Stealth From Stealth Technology

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the f35s-cost-more-than-$300-million-each dept.

The Military 275

AbrasiveCat (999190) writes "In the continuing game of cat and mouse between offensive and defensive technologies of war, the technology of radar stealth may have been matched by new multiple frequency radar systems. U.S Naval Institute News reports the Chinese and Russians may be developing such systems. The present radar systems use high frequency waves for accurately locating an incoming target. Stealth aircraft are designed to adsorb or reflect these waves away from the receiver. It turns out longer wave radars can see the stealth aircraft. The longer wave radar lacks the precision of the high frequency radar, but when the two are combined, as the Russians, Chinese (and U.S.) are doing, you can produce accurate targeting radar. The F117 may have been in a golden age for stealth technology, it will be interesting to see if the F35 arrives too late to be effective against other countries with advanced radar systems."

Paint Dust Covers the Upper Layer of the World's Oceans

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 months ago | from the zooplankton-love-fiberglass dept.

Earth 141

sciencehabit (1205606) writes Even when the sea looks clean, its surface can be flecked with tiny fragments of paint and fiberglass. That's the finding from a study that looked for plastic pollution in the uppermost millimeter of ocean. The microscopic fragments come from the decks and hulls of boats, and they could pose a threat to zooplankton, an important part of the marine food web.

IBM Creates Custom-Made Brain-Like Chip

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the it's-alive dept.

IBM 105

An anonymous reader writes In a paper published Thursday in Science, IBM describes its creation of a brain-like chip called TrueNorth. It has "4,096 processor cores, and it mimics one million human neurons and 256 million synapses, two of the fundamental biological building blocks that make up the human brain." What's the difference between TrueNorth and traditional processing units? Apparently, TrueNorth encodes data "as patterns of pulses". Already, TrueNorth has a proven 80% accuracy in image recognition with a power consumption efficiency rate beating traditional processing units. Don't look for brain-like chips in the open market any time soon, though. TrueNorth is part of a DARPA research effort that may or may not translate into significant changes in commercial chip architecture and function.

UK Police Won't Comment On The Tracking of People's Phone Calls

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the ask-me-that-later dept.

United Kingdom 52

Daniel_Stuckey writes You've maybe heard a bit about Stingray. Over the past couple of years, it has emerged that police forces in the US have been using the powerful surveillance tool, which tricks phones into connecting to a dragnet, to track mobile devices, and intercept calls and text messages. Meanwhile, the London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) continue to remain tight lipped about their use of the technology, leaving citizens in the dark on what privacy protections, if any, are in place for those who may get swept up by the broad surveillance techniques.

The Hidden Cost of Your New Xfinity Router

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the opt-out-options-obviate-opposition dept.

Wireless Networking 224

An anonymous reader writes "The battle over Comcast's public WiFi network that is hosted on your cable modem continues. Comcast responded to Speedify's earlier power measurements by rushing them a new Cisco cable modem. The new modem proved to be more power hungry than the last, and also introduced some tricky IPv6 problems that caused major headaches for the team."

TEPCO: Nearly All Nuclear Fuel Melted At Fukushima No. 3 Reactor

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the bit-warm-in-here dept.

Japan 255

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Almost all of the nuclear fuel in the No. 3 reactor of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant melted within days of the March 11, 2011, disaster, according to a new estimate by Tokyo Electric Power Co. TEPCO originally estimated that about 60 percent of the nuclear fuel melted at the reactor. But the latest estimate released on Aug. 6 revealed that the fuel started to melt about six hours earlier than previously thought. TEPCO said most of the melted fuel likely dropped to the bottom of the containment unit from the pressure vessel after the disaster set off by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami."

Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the this-case-is-totally-proprietary dept.

Open Source 136

First time accepted submitter PotatoHead (12771) writes "This is a big win for Open Hardware Proponents! The Parallax Propeller Microcontroller VERILOG code was released today, and it's complete! Everything you need to run Open Code on an Open CPU design. This matters because you can now build a device that is open hardware, open code all the way down to the CPU level! Either use a product CPU, and have access to its source code to understand what and how it does things, or load that CPU onto a suitable FPGA and modify it or combine it with your design."

Ask Slashdot: Best PDF Handling Library?

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the when-vi-is-not-the-answer dept.

Open Source 132

New submitter Fotis Georgatos (3006465) writes I recently engaged in a conversation about handling PDF texts for a range of needs, such as creation, manipulation, merging, text extraction and searching, digital signing etc etc. A couple of potential picks popped up (PDFBox, itext), given some Java experience of the other fellows. And then comes the reality of choosing software as a long term knowledge investment! ideally, we would like to combine these features:

  • open source, with a community following ; the kind of stuff Slashdotters would prefer
  • tidy software architecture; simple things should remain simple
  • allow open API allowing usage across many languages (say: Python & Java)
  • clear licensing status, not estranging future commercial use
  • serious multilingual & font support
  • PDF-handling rich features, not limiting usage for invoicing, e-commerce, reports & data mining
  • digital signing should not go against other features

I'd like to poll the collective Slashdot crowd wisdom about if/which PDF related libraries, they have written software with, keeps them happy for *all* the above reasons. And if not happy with that all, what do they thing is the best bet for learning one piece of software in the area, with great reusability across different circumstances and little need for extra hacks? I'd really like to hear the smoked out war stories. It is easy to obtain a list of such libraries, yet tricky to understand whethe people have obtained success with them!

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