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Updated: 5 days 6 hours ago

Tiniest Linux COM Yet?

Fri, 30/05/2014 - 20:58
DeviceGuru writes: "An open-spec COM that runs OpenWRT Linux on a MIPS-based Ralink RT5350 SoC has won its Indiegogo funding. The $20, IoT-focused VoCore measures 25 x 25mm. How low can you go? Tiny computer-on-modules (COMs) for Internet of Things (IoT) applications are popping up everywhere, with recent, Linux-ready entries including Intel's Atom or Quark-based Edison, Ingenic's MIPS/Xburst-based Newton, Acme Systems's ARM9/SAM9G25 based Arrietta G25, and SolidRun's quad-core i.MX6-based MicroSOM. Now, an unnamed Chinese startup has raised over six times its $6,000 Indiegogo funding goal for what could be the smallest, cheapest Linux COM yet."

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Security Researchers Threatened With US Cybercrime Laws

Fri, 30/05/2014 - 20:16
An anonymous reader writes "The Guardian reports that many of the security industry's top researchers are being threatened by lawyers and law enforcement over their efforts to track down vulnerabilities in internet infrastructure. 'HD Moore, creator of the ethical hacking tool Metasploit and chief research officer of security consultancy Rapid7, told the Guardian he had been warned by U.S. law enforcement last year over a scanning project called Critical.IO, which he started in 2012. The initiative sought to find widespread vulnerabilities using automated computer programs to uncover the weaknesses across the entire internet. ... Zach Lanier, senior security researcher at Duo Security, said many of his team had "run into possible CFAA issues before in the course of research over the last decade." Lanier said that after finding severe vulnerabilities in an unnamed "embedded device marketed towards children" and reporting them to the manufacturer, he received calls from lawyers threatening him with action."

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Ford's Bringing Adaptive Steering To the Masses

Fri, 30/05/2014 - 18:52
cartechboy writes: "Most automakers have made the jump from hydraulic power steering to electronic power steering to help conserve fuel. By using an electric motor instead of a hydraulic system, less energy is drawn from the engine. Many luxury automakers have also introduced adaptive steering with the electronic power steering systems, but now Ford is looking to bring this feature to the masses. Adaptive steering builds on the existing speed-sensitive function of the electronic power steering system by altering the steering ratio and effort based on driver inputs and settings. The system uses a precision-controlled actuator placed inside the steering wheel. It's an electric motor and gearing system that can essentially add or subtract from the driver's steering inputs. This will make the vehicle easier to maneuver at low speeds, and make a vehicle feel more stable at high speeds. The system (video) will be offered on certain Ford vehicles within the next 12 months."

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The Light Might Make You Heavy

Fri, 30/05/2014 - 18:05
Rambo Tribble writes: "Writing in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers have found that sleeping with high ambient light levels may contribute to obesity (abstract). In a survey of 113,000 women, a high correlation was found between higher bedroom light levels and increased propensity to be overweight or obese. Excess light in the sleeping environment has long been known to adversely affect melatonin production and circadian rhythms. It is posited that such an interference with the 'body clock' may be behind these results. Although there is not yet enough evidence to call this a smoking gun, as one researcher put it, 'Overall this study points to the importance of darkness.'"

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4K Displays Ready For Prime Time

Fri, 30/05/2014 - 15:55
An anonymous reader writes "After the HD revolution, display manufacturers rolled out gimmick after gimmick to try to recapture that burst of purchasing (3-D, curved displays, 'Smart' features, form factor tweaks, etc). Now, we're finally seeing an improvement that might actually be useful: 4K displays are starting to drop into a reasonable price range. Tech Report reviews a 28" model from Asus that runs $650. They say, 'Unlike almost every other 4K display on the market, the PB287Q is capable of treating that grid as a single, coherent surface. ... Running games at 4K requires tons of GPU horsepower, yet dual-tile displays don't support simple scaling. As a result, you can't drop back to obvious subset resolutions like 2560x1440 or 1920x1080 in order to keep frame rendering times low. ... And single-tile 4K at 30Hz stinks worse, especially for gaming. The PB287Q solves almost all of those problems.' They add that the monitor's firmware is not great, and while most options you want are available, they often require digging through menus to set up. The review ends up recommending the monitor, but notes that, more importantly, its capabilities signify 'the promise of better things coming soon.'"

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ISEE-3 Satellite Is Back Under Control

Fri, 30/05/2014 - 15:11
brindafella writes: "Over the last two days, the (Reboot Project for the International Sun/Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3) satellite has successfully commanded ISEE-3 from Earth, using signals transmitted from the Aricebo Observatory. Signals were also received by cooperating dishes: the 21-meter dish located at Kentucky's Morehead State University Space Science Center; the 20-meter dish antenna in Bochum Observatory, Germany, operated by AMSAT Germany; and SETI's Allen Telescope Array, California. ISEE-3 was launched in 1978, and last commanded in 1999 by NASA. On May 15, 2014, the project reached its crowdfunding goal of US$125,000, which will cover the costs of writing the software to communicate with the probe, searching through the NASA archives for the information needed to control the spacecraft, and buying time on the dish antennas. The project then set a 'stretch goal' of $150,000, which it also met with a final total of $159,502 raised. The goal is to be able to command the spacecraft to fire its engines to enter an Earth orbit, and then be usable for further space exploration. This satellite does not even have a computer; it is all 'hard-wired.'"

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YouTube Releases the Google Video Quality Report

Fri, 30/05/2014 - 03:04
mpicpp (3454017) writes "YouTube has released a tool that can show you how your video-streaming quality compares to your neighbor's. 'The Google Video Quality Report is available to people in the U.S. and Canada, where it launched in January. It compares your streaming video quality to three standards: HD Verified, when your provider can deliver HD video consistently at a resolution of at least 720p without buffering or interruptions; Standard Definition, for consistent video streaming at 360p; and Lower Definition, for videos that regularly play at less than 360p or often are interrupted."

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Imparting Malware Resistance With a Randomizing Compiler

Thu, 29/05/2014 - 22:33
First time accepted submitter wheelbarrio (1784594) writes with this news from the Economist: "Inspired by the natural resistance offered to pathogens by genetically diverse host populations, Dr Michael Franz at UCI suggests that common software be similarly hardened against attack by generating a unique executable for each install. It sounds like a cute idea, although the article doesn't provide examples of what kinds of diversity are possible whilst maintaining the program logic, nor what kind of attacks would be prevented with this approach." This might reduce the value of MD5 sums, though.

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Curved TVs Nothing But a Gimmick

Thu, 29/05/2014 - 21:48
Lucas123 (935744) writes "Currently, the hottest trend from TV manufacturers is to offer curved panels, but analysts say it's nothing more than a ploy to pander to consumers who want the latest, coolest-looking tech in their home. In the end, the TVs don't offer better picture quality. In fact, they offer a degraded view to anyone sitting off center. Samsung and LG claim that the curve provides a cinema-like experience by offering a more balanced and uniform view so that the edges of the set don't appear further away than the middle. Paul Gray, director of European TV Research for DisplaySearch, said those claims are nothing by pseudo-science. "Curved screens are a gimmick, much along the same lines as 3D TVs are," said Paul O'Donovan, Gartner's principal analyst for consumer electronics research."

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Not A Hoverboard, but Close (Video)

Thu, 29/05/2014 - 21:04
It's a one-wheeled, self-balancing electric skateboard called (appropriately) the Onewheel. You can't buy one right now. They've already shipped all of their first production runs and still have Kickstarter backers' orders to fulfill. After that, though, they might make one for you -- if you come up with a deposit of $500 against a total price of $1499. Plus shipping. This may seem like a lot of money to some people, but enough folks have found it reasonable that Onewheel has sold out not just its first production run but also the second one. Their Kickstarter success was nothing short of amazing, with $630,862 raised although their goal was only $100,000. Inventor Kyle Doerksen is the man behind Onewheel, but he's also one of the people behind Faraday Bicycles, whose flagship model costs $3500 -- and whose initial production run is also sold out -- which means there are people around who are willing to pay $3500 for an electric bicycle instead of putting a motor kit on a used Schwinn for a total cost of less than $500 (with a little careful shopping). Alternate video link.

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Mutant Registration vs. Vaccine Registration

Thu, 29/05/2014 - 15:08
Responding to an editorial endorsing a national vaccine registry in Canada (though the same kind of registry could be and has been proposed in the U.S. with the same logic), an anonymous reader writes "Vaccine Registration makes me think of Mutant and Superhero registration. The reasons are similar. It's based on fear and misinformation. People fear that unvaccinated people will doom us all. Sound familiar? The difference is this is real. (Oh, and they probably won't use sentinels to track down the dangerous unvaccinated folks.) Thoughts?" From the linked editorial: "A national vaccination registry would identify which Canadians have been fully vaccinated, those who have received less than a full dose of shots, and those who have not been vaccinated at all. Having a vaccine registry in place in the event of an outbreak of measles, whooping cough, and diseases like these would enable public health officials to identify the children and adults who need vaccinations. Getting them the shots they need would reduce the risk of anyone on the list getting sick, and would also reduce the threat of an outbreak in the community in which they live or travel to [and] from." In the U.S., immunization records — at least, ones which have been put in electronic form at all — are maintained in a mix of databases, including at the state level, or maintained by cities, or by insurance companies and medical providers. Here, some people (like the reader who submitted this story) also see a potential for unwarranted privacy invasion in a national vaccination registry; however, their case isn't helped by often being tied to opposition to vaccination more generally.

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Wikia and Sony Playing Licensing Mind Tricks

Thu, 29/05/2014 - 13:47
TuringTest (533084) writes "Popular culture website Wikia originally hosted its user-contributed content under a free, sharealike Commercial Commons license (CC-BY-SA). At least as soon as 2003, some specific wikis decided to use the non-commercial CC-BY-NC license instead: hey, this license supposedly protects the authors, and anyone is free to choose how they want to license their work anyway, right? However, in late 2012 Wikia added to its License terms of service a retroactive clause for all its non-commercial content, granting Wikia an exclusive right to use this content in commercial contexts, effectively making all CC-BY-NC content dual-licensed. And today, Wikia is publicizing a partnership with Sony to display Wikia content on Smart TVs, a clear commercial use. A similar event happened at TV Tropes when the site owners single-handedly changed the site's copyright notice from ShareAlike to the incompatible NonCommercial, without notifying nor requesting consent from its contributors. Is this the ultimate fate of all wikis? Do Creative Commons licenses hold any weight for community websites?"

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