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Updated: 3 days 4 hours ago

Virtual Reality: Purpose Beyond Gaming

Wed, 30/04/2014 - 11:25
An anonymous reader writes "Virtual reality tech is getting a ton of attention for what it can do to video games. But the technology itself isn't limited to games — just as Kinect was hijacked and used for myriad other purposes, so will VR be broadly adapted. This article goes into some of the applications: 'An elderly woman in a retirement home recently used an Oculus to explore a garden and walk stairs again. This simple environment brought her to tears. Work is also being done to help PTSD sufferers deal with their trauma by replicating the scene within virtual reality and there is great interest in using a similar approach for other conditions like amnesia, Alzheimer's and dementia. ... An elderly woman in a retirement home recently used an Oculus to explore a garden and walk stairs again. This simple environment brought her to tears. Work is also being done to help PTSD sufferers deal with their trauma by replicating the scene within virtual reality and there is great interest in using a similar approach for other conditions like amnesia, Alzheimer's and dementia. ... It's now possible for museum spaces and schools to teleport students to specific moments in history, to allow them to experience being executed by a guillotine, take tours of space or even explore the depths of the ocean.' What other VR uses can you foresee?"

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Ask Slashdot: How To Back Up Physical Data?

Wed, 30/04/2014 - 10:11
An anonymous reader writes "After many years I now have a backup of all my digital data in (at least) two physical locations. But what do people recommend to back up my physical data? And then how to prove my identity? I call it the 'gas leak problem,' because a gas leak in my town caused an explosion that leveled a house. If it had been my house, it would have destroyed all my paperwork that proves who I am. If I'd come home from work and found my house was now a pile of rubble, how would I prove I lived there, knowing my key no longer fits the smoldering lock? If I'd left my wallet at home, my bank cards would have been destroyed so I couldn't withdraw money or book into a hotel. Or if I'd left my phone at the office, I wouldn't know anyone's number to call, or get anyone to vouch for me. What preventative steps can you take? Since having this nightmare, I've exported my phone's VCF file to an online repo, made online notes of all my bank account numbers and passport ID, I keep ICE numbers with me at all times (separate from phone/wallet), and I've hidden a spare mobile phone and house key in a box in a nearby field. But there must be more to do!"

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Mini Gaming PCs — Promising, But Not Ready

Wed, 30/04/2014 - 08:36
An anonymous reader writes "Ars has reviewed an AMD-powered mini gaming rig made by Gigabyte. The box itself is small and solid, and it runs a pretty beefy video card for its size. The manufacturer even claims Linux support, though the device ships with Windows 8.1. Unfortunately, reality lags a bit behind their plans — Ubuntu boots OK, but driver support is a mess. SteamOS won't run at all. The box is also limited by a mediocre CPU, which is itself limited by heat and power constraints. The review says the machine was 'intriguing and frustrating in equal measure' because 'its ambition is rarely matched by its execution.' It concludes: 'With some time and some different components, a little desktop that can deliver a great gaming experience will surely follow.'"

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Aerospace Merger: ATK Joins With Orbital Sciences Corp

Wed, 30/04/2014 - 04:15
FullBandwidth writes: "Two Virginia aerospace players, Arlington-based Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and Dulles-based Orbital Sciences, are merging to create a $5 billion venture. The companies announced the merger in a joint announcement Tuesday. ATK is also spinning off its lucrative hunting gear segment into a separate company. 'The move is mutually beneficial, company executives said, as ATK looks to bolster its aerospace business and Orbital Sciences hopes to boost the scale of its existing operations as well as gain a foothold in the defense sector. ... Another beneficiary of the merger is NASA, a client of both companies. Last year, Orbital successfully completed a supply run to the international space station using its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft. Orbital’s expansion after the merger will make it a bigger player in the commercial space sector as it competes with the likes of SpaceX, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s company, said Howard Rubel, an equity research analyst at Jefferies.'"

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Heartbleed Turned Against Cyber Criminals

Tue, 29/04/2014 - 22:55
Rambo Tribble writes: "In a case of 'live by the sword, die by the sword,' researchers have used the now-infamous Heartlbeed bug in OpenSSL to gain access to black-hat forums. A French researcher named Steven K. is quoted as saying, 'The potential of this vulnerability affecting black-hat services is just enormous.' Reportedly, the criminal-minded sites Darkode and Damagelab have already been compromised." In related news, U.S. Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel posted an article at Whitehouse.gov yesterday reaffirming that the U.S. government had no prior knowledge of Heartbleed. He said, 'We rely on the Internet and connected systems for much of our daily lives. Our economy would not function without them. Our ability to project power abroad would be crippled if we could not depend on them. For these reasons, disclosing vulnerabilities usually makes sense. We need these systems to be secure as much as, if not more so, than everyone else.'

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CISPA 3.0: the Senate's New Bill As Bad As Ever

Tue, 29/04/2014 - 22:14
Daniel_Stuckey writes: "CISPA is back for a third time—it has lost the 'P,' but it's just as bad for civil liberties as ever. The Senate Intelligence Committee is considering a new cybersecurity bill that contains many of the provisions that civil liberties groups hated about the Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). Most notably, under the proposed bill companies could not be sued for incorrectly sharing too much customer information with the federal government, and broad law enforcement sharing could allow for the creation of backdoor wiretaps. The bill, called the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014, was written by Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and is currently circulating around the committee right now but has not yet been introduced. Right now, the bill is only a 'discussion draft,' and the committee is still looking to make revisions to the bill before it is officially introduced."

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Ask Slashdot: Intelligently Moving From IT Into Management?

Tue, 29/04/2014 - 18:42
MightyMartian (840721) writes "I've been working for an organization now for over seven years, my best run yet. A couple of years ago, the company went through some major changes and I bought in as an owner and as a managing director; my responsibilities encompassing administration, finance and IT. It's a small (20 employee or so, plus nearly that many with subcontracting companies) organization so needless to say I retained my direct IT responsibilities. My fellow board members have decided that I need to detach myself from the day to day IT operations and take over more management duties; in particular in the finance and budgeting end of things. Right now I'm in the process of interviewing a new IT system administrator who will, over time, take on most of my IT roles. However, since this has been a one-man shop for seven years; namely my shop, I confess some reservations about handing over the keys and moving permanently up to the top floor. Does anybody have any suggestions on the level of permissions for servers, networks and infrastructure I should start with? Do I, for the moment, retain some of the critical functionality; like superuser passwords, and slowly move the new system administrator into his or her role, or do I move more quickly, give him the basics and then let him fly on his own?"

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Yahoo To Produce Sci-Fi Streaming Sitcom

Tue, 29/04/2014 - 15:47
jfruh (300774) writes "As the heydays of Internet portals recede into the mists of history and Yahoo tries to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up, the company has decided to dip its toes into the incredibly expensive and unpredictable world of producing full-length television shows to compete with the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and HBO. One of the two may intrigue Slashdot readers: Paul Feig, co-creator of the cult '90s hit 'Freaks and Geeks' (and more recently the director of 'Bridesmaids') will product "Other Space," a comedy-adventure about a misfit group of space travelers who stumble onto an alternate universe. The second show, about a fictional Las Vegas NBA team, will appeal to Yahoo's sports audience." I wonder how long it will be until Google, Microsoft, and Apple are also all producing TV shows.

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Netflix Confirms Deal For Access To Verizon's Network

Tue, 29/04/2014 - 13:45
An anonymous reader writes "Netflix [on Monday] confirmed that it has reached a deal to gain itself access to Verizon's network. This deal is similar to the one that Netflix already made with Comcast and should improve streaming video quality for Verizon customers. Readers should note that Netflix is paying Verizon and Comcast only to gain access to its networks by by-passing third-party transit providers like Cogent and Level 3. If the FCC's new proposal passes, ISPs like Verizon and Comcast could also charge Netflix for faster direct connections to its customers over the last mile."

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GNU Mailman 3 Enters Beta

Tue, 29/04/2014 - 10:02
GNU Mailman, likely the most popular mailing list manager in use today, has finally announced the release of a beta for version 3. GNU Mailman 3.0 is a major rewrite, features include a central server with a REST API replacing the dozen or two programs that manipulated Mailman data directly, a shiny new web fron end (Postorius), and a new archiver (HyperKitty). Fedora is already using the new archiver and interface, which is quite a bit more modern looking than Mailman 2.x's interface (wayback machine link for posterity). Individual message thread views are greatly improved, and you can even reply from the web by logging in with your list credentials. If you'd like to try it out, see the announcement message.

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You Are What You're Tricked Into Eating

Tue, 29/04/2014 - 08:07
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Two prominent nutrition experts have put forth the theory that the current obesity epidemic is, in large part, the result of processed foods tricking our appetite control mechanisms. They argue that evolution has given humans a delicately balanced system that balances appetite with metabolic needs, and that processed foods trick that system by making foods high in fats and carbohydrates have the gustatory qualities of proteins. As the researchers put it, 'Many people eat far too much fat and carbohydrate in their attempt to consume enough protein.'"

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Setback For Small Nuclear Reactors: B&W Cuts mPower Funding

Tue, 29/04/2014 - 05:04
mdsolar (1045926) writes with news that funding for the mPower, a Small Modular [Nuclear] Reactor, has been cut due to the inability to find investors interested in building a prototype. From the article: "The pullback represents a major blow to the development of SMRs, which have been hailed as the next step forward for the nuclear power industry. ... All told, B&W, the DOE, and partners have spent around $400 million on the mPower program. Another $600 million was needed just to get the technology ready for application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for licensing. ... B&W plans to continue low-level R&D on the mPower technology with a view to commercial deployment in the mid-2020s, said CEO James Ferland. But without a major shift in the business environment and in investor perceptions of the risks and rewards associated with nuclear power, that seems fanciful."

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Japanese and Swiss Watchmakers Scoff At Smartwatches

Mon, 28/04/2014 - 14:35
jfruh (300774) writes "With rumors swirling about Apple entering the wearable space with an iWatch, you'd think that the Japanese and Swiss companies that have dominated high-end watchmaking for more than a century would be scrambling to catch up. But there were virtually no smartwatches on display at the Baselworld trade fair, and the watchmaking giants had no plans to produce any. Company representatives seemed sure that people in practice would be uninterested in constantly recharging their watches and downloading software updates just to tell time."

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Designer Creates a Water Bottle That You Can Eat

Mon, 28/04/2014 - 13:48
Diggester (2492316) writes "Rodrigo García González has been working on the Ooho water bottle for the past few years. The bottle is made out of edible materials, looks like a jellyfish, and has the potential to put an end to the bottled water industry. Inspired by the juice-filled pearls added to bubble tea and the mad-cuisine creations of chef Ferran Adriá, who uses a technique known as sheperification (encasing liquid into edible membranes), García is on his way to revolutionizing the bottled water industry."

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What Happens To All the Universe's Hydrogen?

Mon, 28/04/2014 - 06:09
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "Just a second after the Big Bang, the Universe was a hot bath of radiation, with a small fraction of protons and neutrons in about equal numbers left over. By time it was four minutes old, it was 92% hydrogen (by number of atoms) and 8% helium. Yet the Universe has aged nearly 14 billion years since then, and have formed many generations of stars, all of which burn hydrogen into heavier elements. So how much hydrogen is left, and how much will be left far into the future? A lot more than you might think."

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China Censors "The Big Bang Theory" and Other Streaming Shows

Sun, 27/04/2014 - 23:06
dryriver (1010635) writes in with news that the Chinese government has had enough of the antics of doctor Sheldon Lee Cooper. "Chinese authorities have ordered video streaming websites in the country to stop showing four popular American TV shows, including The Big Bang Theory and The Good Wife, senior staff from two sites said Sunday. The move suggests government attention is intensifying on the online streaming industry, which is freer than state television and China's cinemas to show foreign productions and other content and has stretched the boundaries of what can be seen in the country. A spokeswoman for a leading online video site, Youku, said it had received notification on Saturday not to show sitcom The Big Bang Theory, political and legal drama The Good Wife, crime drama NCIS and legal drama The Practice."

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Microsoft Issues Advisory For Internet Explorer Vulnerability

Sun, 27/04/2014 - 22:00
jones_supa (887896) writes "Neowin reports how Microsoft made a rare weekend post on its Security Response Center blog to announce an advisory that affects all currently supported versions of Internet Explorer (versions 6 to 11). The issue is based on a newly discovered exploit that could be used against the web browser. The vulnerability exists in the way that IE accesses an object in memory that has been deleted or has not been properly allocated. Memory may be corrupted in a way that could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code in the context of the current user. Microsoft is aware of 'limited, targeted attacks' that have used the exploit. IE 10 and 11 are protected against attacks using this exploit if they have their Enhanced Protected Mode turned on. Also, PCs that have either the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit 4.1 or the EMET 5.0 Technical Preview installed are also secured against this security hole. Microsoft will take the appropriate action to protect its customers by delivering a security update."

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Mathematicians Push Back Against the NSA

Sun, 27/04/2014 - 20:54
First time accepted submitter Parseval (3632761) writes "The NSA and GCHQ need mathematicians in order to function — they are some of the biggest employers of mathematicians in the world. This New Scientist article by a mathematician describes some of the math behind mass surveillance, and calls on other mathematicians to refuse to cooperate with the NSA/GCHQ while they continue to surveil the entire population. From the article: 'Mathematicians seldom face ethical questions. We enjoy the feeling that what we do is separate from the everyday world. As the number theorist G. H. Hardy wrote in 1940: "I have never done anything 'useful'. No discovery of mine has made, or is likely to make, directly or indirectly, for good or ill, the least difference to the amenity of the world." That idea is now untenable. Mathematics clearly has practical applications that are highly relevant to the modern world, not least internet encryption.'"

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Bill Gates & Twitter Founders Put "Meatless" Meat To the Test

Sun, 27/04/2014 - 19:50
assertation (1255714) writes "Bill Gates and the founders of Twitter are betting millions that meat lovers will embrace a new plant-based product that mimics the taste of chicken and beef. Meat substitutes have had a hard time making it to the dinner tables of Americans over the years, but the tech giants believe these newest products will pass the "tastes like chicken" test. Gates has met several times with Ethan Brown, whose product, Beyond Meat, is a mash-up of proteins from peas and plants."

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