Slashdot

Subscribe to Slashdot feed Slashdot
News for nerds, stuff that matters
Updated: 1 hour 51 min ago

Congress Suggests Moat, Eletronic Fence To Protect White House

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 22:40
PolygamousRanchKid writes Acting Secret Service director Joseph Clancy on Wednesday faced a number of tough questions from the House Judiciary Committee about the fence jumper who made it deep into the White House. But along with the tough questions, Clancy fielded a couple eyebrow raising suggestions on how to better protect the president's home. "Would a moat, water six feet around, be kind of attractive and effective?" Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., asked with trepidation. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, asked: “Would you be in favor of removing the fence around the White House and having, maybe, a virtual or electronic fence around it?” Clancy liked the moat idea better than the electric fence. “My knee-jerk reaction to that would be no, sir,” he told Gohmert. “Partly because of the number of tourists that come up Pennsylvania Avenue and come up to that area.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Is a Moral Compass a Hindrance Or a Help For Startups?

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 22:20
Nerval's Lobster writes As an emerging company in a hotly contested space, Uber already had a reputation for playing hardball with competitors, even before reports leaked of one of its executives threatening to dig into the private lives of journalists. Faced with a vicious competitive landscape, Uber executives probably feel they have little choice but to plunge into multi-front battle. As the saying goes, when you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail; and when you're a startup that thinks it's besieged from all sides by entities that seem determined to shut you down, sometimes your executives feel the need to take any measure in order to keep things going, even if those measures are ethically questionable. As more than one analyst has pointed out, Uber isn't the first company in America to triumph through a combination of grit and ethically questionable tactics; but it's also not the first to implode thanks to the latter. Is a moral compass (or at least the appearance of one) a hindrance or a help for startups?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Is a Moral Compass a Hinderance Or a Help For Startups?

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 22:20
Nerval's Lobster writes As an emerging company in a hotly contested space, Uber already had a reputation for playing hardball with competitors, even before reports leaked of one of its executives threatening to dig into the private lives of journalists. Faced with a vicious competitive landscape, Uber executives probably feel they have little choice but to plunge into multi-front battle. As the saying goes, when you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail; and when you're a startup that thinks it's besieged from all sides by entities that seem determined to shut you down, sometimes your executives feel the need to take any measure in order to keep things going, even if those measures are ethically questionable. As more than one analyst has pointed out, Uber isn't the first company in America to triumph through a combination of grit and ethically questionable tactics; but it's also not the first to implode thanks to the latter. Is a moral compass (or at least the appearance of one) a hinderance or a help for startups?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Nielsen Will Start Tracking Netflix and Amazon Video

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 21:38
An anonymous reader writes Nielsen is going to start studying the streaming behavior of online viewers for the first time. Netflix has never released detailed viewership data, but Nielsen says they have developed a way for its rating meters to track shows by identifying their audio. From the article: "Soon Nielsen, the standard-bearer for TV ratings, may change that. The TV ratings company revealed to the Wall Street Journal that it's planning to begin tracking viewership of online video services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video in December by analyzing the audio of shows that are being streamed. The new ratings will come with a lot of caveats—they won't track mobile devices and won't take into account Netflix's large global reach—but they will provide a sense for the first time which Netflix shows are the most popular. And if the rest of the media world latches onto these new ratings as a standard, Netflix won't be able to ignore them."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








CMI Director Alex King Talks About Rare Earth Supplies (Video)

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 20:57
CMI in this context is the Critical Materials Institute at the Iowa State Ames Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. They have partners from other national laboratories, universities, and industry, too. Rare earths, while not necessarily as rare as the word "rare" implies, are hard to mine, separate, and use. They are often found in parts per million quantities, so it takes supercomputers to suss out which deposits are worth going after. This is what Dr. King and his coworkers spend their time doing; finding concentrations of rare earths that can be mined and refined profitably. On November 3 we asked you for questions to put to Dr. King. Timothy incorporated some of those questions into the conversation in this video -- and tomorrow's video too, since we broke this into two parts because, while the subject matter may be fascinating, we are supposed to hold video lengths down to around 10 minutes, and in this case we still ended up with two videos close to 15 minutes each. And this stuff is important enough that instead of lining up a list of links, we are giving you one link to Google using the search term "rare earths." Yes, we know Rare Earth would be a great name for a rock band. But the mineral rare earths are important in the manufacture of items from strong magnets to touch screens and rechargeable batteries. (Alternate Video Link)

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Martin Jetpack Closer To Takeoff In First Responder Applications

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 20:16
Zothecula writes Last year's redesign of the long-awaited Martin Jetpack was accompanied by plans to begin commercial sales in 2014, starting with emergency response services and individual sales to follow thereafter. The release date for the first responder Jetpack has since been revised to 2016, a prediction bolstered by the fresh announcement of a partnership between Martin Aircraft Company and US company Avwatch to develop air-based, first responder solutions for the US Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Number of Coders In Congress To Triple (From One To Three)

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 19:35
jfruh writes Last weekend, Tim Berners-Lee said that the UK needs more members of parliament who can code. Well, the most recent U.S. congressional election has obliged him on this side of the Atlantic: the number of coders in Congress has tripled, with the downside being that their numbers have gone from one to three.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Researchers Discover Ancient Massive Landslide

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 19:13
sciencehabit writes For decades, geologists have noted the signs of ancient landslides in southwestern Utah. Although many parts of the landscape don't look that odd at first glance, certain layers include jumbled masses of fractured rock sandwiched among thick veins of lava, ash, and mud. Now, new fieldwork suggests that many of those ancient debris flows are the result of one of Earth's largest known landslides, which covered an area nearly 39 times the size of Manhattan.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Bicycle Bottle System Condenses Humidity From Air Into Drinkable Water

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 18:52
Diggester writes The weight of water limits how much can be brought on a long bike ride. There isn't always an option to stop and fill up from a clean stream or drinking fountain, but water could be obtained from a different source: the air. Austrian industrial design student Kristof Retezár has created Fontus: a prototype of a water bottle system that condenses humid air into clean, drinkable water. His design made him a finalist for the 2014 James Dyson Award.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Lunar Mission One Proposes To Take Core Sample, Plant Time Capsule On the Moon

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 18:11
MarkWhittington writes: The U.S. may have foresworn the moon, the venue of its greatest space triumph during the Apollo program, by presidential directive, but that does not mean that other countries and even private organizations are uninterested. The latest proposal for a private moon landing is a British effort called Lunar Mission One, according to a Wednesday story in the New Scientist. Its goal is twofold. The undertaking proposes to drill a 20 meter core sample below the lunar surface for analysis. Lunar Mission One will also deploy the first moon based time capsule. A Kickstarter effort has begun for initial funding.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Three-Way Comparison Shows PCs Slaying Consoles In Dragon Age Inquisition

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 17:30
MojoKid writes: "BioWare's long-awaited Dragon Age Inquisition has dropped for the PS4, Xbox One, and PCs. A comparison of the visuals in key scenes between all three platforms shows that while the PC variant clearly looks the best in multiple areas (as it should), there's evidence of good, intelligent optimization for consoles and PCs alike. After the debacle of Assassin's Creed Unity, Inquisition could provide an important taste of how to do things right. As expected though, when detail levels are increased, the PC still pulls away with the best overall visuals. The Xbox One and PS4 are largely matched, while PC renders of characters have better facial coloring and slightly more detailed textures. The lighting models are also far more detailed on the PC version with the PS4 following behind. The Xbox One, in contrast, is rather muddy. Overall, the PC and PS4 are closest in general detail, with the Xbox One occasionally lagging behind.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Halting Problem Proves That Lethal Robots Cannot Correctly Decide To Kill Humans

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 16:50
KentuckyFC writes: The halting problem is to determine whether an arbitrary computer program, once started, will ever finish running or whether it will continue forever. In 1936, Alan Turing famously showed that there is no general algorithm that can solve this problem. Now a group of computer scientists and ethicists have used the halting problem to tackle the question of how a weaponized robot could decide to kill a human. Their trick is to reformulate the problem in algorithmic terms by considering an evil computer programmer who writes a piece of software on which human lives depend. The question is whether the software is entirely benign or whether it can ever operate in a way that ends up killing people. In general, a robot could never decide the answer to this question. As a result, autonomous robots should never be designed to kill or harm humans, say the authors, even though various lethal autonomous robots are already available. One curious corollary is that if the human brain is a Turing machine, then humans can never decide this issue either, a point that the authors deliberately steer well clear of.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Head of FCC Proposes Increasing Internet School Fund

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 16:08
Rambo Tribble writes: The commissioners at the FCC are expected to vote, on December 11, on a proposal by Chairman Tom Wheeler to increase the funding for the nation's largest educational technology subsidy program, E-Rate, by 62 percent. The proposal is intended to be paid for by higher fees on phone service. The increased cost is pegged at $1.92 a year, per telephone line. Support for the proposal, or lack thereof, appears to be falling along partisan lines. To quote Wheeler, however, "Almost two-thirds of American schools cannot appropriately connect their students to the 21st century."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Microsoft Azure Outage Across the Globe

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 15:23
hawkinspeter writes: The BBC reports that overnight an outage of Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform took down many third-party sites that rely on it, in addition to disrupting Microsoft's own products. Office 365 and Xbox Live services were affected. This happened at a particularly inopportune time, as Microsoft has recently been pushing its Azure services in an effort to catch up with other providers such as Amazon, IBM, and Google. Just a couple of hours previously, Microsoft had screened an Azure advert in the UK during the Scotland v. England soccer match." (Most services are back online. As of this writing, Application Insights is still struggling, and Europe is having problems with hosted VMs.)

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Jolla Crowdfunds Its First Tablet

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 14:41
SmartAboutThings writes: Jolla is another rising star in the tech world, having recently expanded its smartphone sales into more countries across the globe. Jolla's Sailfish OS is based on the Linux kernel, and considered by many to be a direct successor to Nokia and Intel's MeeGo and the N9 mobile phone. Its software is based on the open-sourced components of MeeGo. Now, the company is ready to start production of its first tablet. They're crowdfunding it, and they blew past their $380,000 goal in about two hours. The tablet has a 7.9-inch screen with a resolution of 2048 x 1536. It's powered by a 1.8GHz 64-bit quad-core Intel processor, comes with a 32GB of storage, an SD card slot, 2GB of RAM and a 5MP rear camera. Judging by its size, we can see this will rival the iPad Mini the new Nokia N1. While there aren't too many Sailfish-specific apps available, as with the phone, Jolla's tablet will be compatible with Android apps.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Republicans Block Latest Attempt At Curbing NSA Power

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 13:58
Robotron23 writes: The latest attempt at NSA reform has been prevented from passage in the Senate by a margin of 58 to 42. Introduced as a means to stop the NSA collecting bulk phone and e-mail records on a daily basis, the USA Freedom Act has been considered a practical route to curtailment of perceived overreach by security services, 18 months since Edward Snowden went public. Opponents to the bill said it was needless, as Wall Street Journal raised the possibility of terrorists such as ISIS running amok on U.S. soil. Supporting the bill meanwhile were the technology giants Google and Microsoft. Prior to this vote, the bill had already been stripped of privacy protections in aid of gaining White House support. A provision to extend the controversial USA Patriot Act to 2017 was also appended by the House of Representatives.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Debian Votes Against Mandating Non-systemd Compatibility

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 13:16
paskie writes: Voting on a Debian General Resolution that would require packagers to maintain support even for systems not running systemd ended tonight with the resolution failing to gather enough support. This means that some Debian packages could require users to run systemd on their systems in theory — however, in practice Debian still works fine without systemd (even with e.g. GNOME) and this will certainly stay the case at least for the next stable release Jessie. However, the controversial general resolution proposed late in the development cycle opened many wounds in the community, prompting some prominent developers to resign or leave altogether, stirring strong emotions — not due to adoption of systemd per se, but because of the emotional burn-out and shortcomings in the decision processes apparent in the wake of the systemd controversy. Nevertheless, work on the next stable release is well underway and some developers are already trying to mend the community and soothe the wounds.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








How Facebook Is Influencing Who Will Win the Next Election

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 10:13
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from Forbes: [Facebook] announced yesterday that it was shutting down a feature that the Obama campaign used in 2012 to register over a million voters. During the election supporters shared access to their list of Facebook friends list with the campaign through an app. Researchers have found that while people view often political messages with skepticism, they are more receptive and trusting when the information is coming from somebody they know. The feature was credited with boosting Obama’s get-out-the-vote efforts which were crucial to his victory, but Facebook has decided to disable this ability in order to (rightfully) protect users from third-party apps collecting too much of their information. The company insists that it favors no particular ideology and that its efforts are “neutral.” The first part is likely true, but the second is not possible. The company’s algorithms take into account a proprietary mix of our own biases, connections, and interests combined with Facebook’s business priorities; that is the farthest thing from neutral. Facebook says it just want to encourage “civic participation,” but politically mobilizing the subsection of people that are on their network is not without its own impacts.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Fish Tagged For Research Become Lunch For Gray Seals

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 08:34
sciencehabit writes: When scientists slap an acoustic tag on a fish, they may be inadvertently helping seals find their next meal. The tags — rods a few centimeters long that give off a ping that can be detected from up to a kilometer away — are often used to follow fish for studies on their migration, hunting, or survival rates. Researchers working with 10 gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) who were captive for a year have now reported that the animals can learn to associate the pings with food. If the findings hold true in the wild, the authors warn, they could skew the results of studies trying to analyze fish survival rates or predation.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








UK Hotel Adds Hefty Charge For Bad Reviews Online

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 07:14
Bizzeh writes: A British couple has been "fined" £100 by a Blackpool hotel for leaving critical comments on Trip Advisor. The UK's Trading Standards organization is investigating the incident, saying it may breach regulations. The Broadway Hotel's booking policy reads (in small print), "Despite the fact that repeat customers and couples love our hotel, your friends and family may not. "For every bad review left on any website, the group organizer will be charged a maximum £100 per review."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Pages