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Updated: 15 hours 35 min ago

In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

Tue, 02/09/2014 - 15:42
An anonymous reader writes A 23-year-old teacher at a Cambridge, Md. middle school has been placed on leave and—in the words of a local news report — "taken in for an emergency medical evaluation" for publishing, under a pseudonym, a novel about a school shooting. The novelist, Patrick McLaw, an eighth-grade language-arts teacher at the Mace's Lane Middle School, was placed on leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education, and is being investigated by the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, according to news reports from Maryland's Eastern Shore. The novel, by the way, is set 900 years in the future."

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Low-Carb Diet Trumps Low-Fat Diet In Major New Study

Tue, 02/09/2014 - 13:12
An anonymous reader writes: The NY Times reports on a new study (abstract) showing that low-carb diets have better health benefits than low-fat diets in a test without calorie restrictions. "By the end of the yearlong trial, people in the low-carbohydrate group had lost about eight pounds more on average than those in the low-fat group. They had significantly greater reductions in body fat than the low-fat group, and improvements in lean muscle mass — even though neither group changed their levels of physical activity. While the low-fat group did lose weight, they appeared to lose more muscle than fat. They actually lost lean muscle mass, which is a bad thing,' Dr. Mozaffarian said. 'Your balance of lean mass versus fat mass is much more important than weight. And that's a very important finding that shows why the low-carb, high-fat group did so metabolically well.' ... In the end, people in the low-carbohydrate group saw markers of inflammation and triglycerides — a type of fat that circulates in the blood — plunge. Their HDL, the so-called good cholesterol, rose more sharply than it did for people in the low-fat group. Blood pressure, total cholesterol and LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol, stayed about the same for people in each group."

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Researchers Say Neanderthals Created Cave Art

Tue, 02/09/2014 - 10:00
An anonymous reader writes with news of a study that suggests an engraving in Gorham's Cave in Gibraltar was made by Neanderthals more than 39,000 years ago. Belying their reputation as the dumb cousins of early modern humans, Neanderthals created cave art, an activity regarded as a major cognitive step in the evolution of humankind, scientists reported on Monday in a paper describing the first discovery of artwork by this extinct species. The discovery is "a major contribution to the redefinition of our perception of Neanderthal culture," said prehistorian William Rendu of the French National Centre for Scientific Research, who was not involved in the work. "It is a new and even stronger evidence of the Neanderthal capacity for developing complex symbolic thought" and "abstract expression," abilities long believed exclusive to early modern humans.

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Finland's Nuclear Plant Start Delayed Again

Tue, 02/09/2014 - 07:08
mdsolar writes with news about further delays to Finland's Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor. "Areva-Siemens, the consortium building Finland's biggest nuclear reactor, said on Monday the start date of the much delayed project will be pushed back to late 2018 — almost a decade later than originally planned. Areva-Siemens blamed disagreements with its client Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) over the plant's automation system, the latest blow for a project that has been hit by repeated delays, soaring costs and disputes. "The delays are because the planning of the plant has taken needlessly long," Jouni Silvennoinen, TVO's project head, told Reuters on Monday. "We haven't examined the supplier's detailed schedules yet, but our preliminary view is that we could do better (than 2018)."

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Hidden Obstacles For Delivery Drones

Tue, 02/09/2014 - 03:04
An anonymous reader writes: A few days ago we talked over some of the difficulties faced by makers of autonomous car software, like dealing with weather, construction, and parking garages. Today, the NY Times has a similar article about delivery drones, examining the safety and regulatory problems that must be solved in addition to getting the basic technology ready. "[R]researchers at NASA are working on ways to manage that menagerie of low-flying aircraft. At NASA's Moffett Field, about four miles from Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., the agency has been developing a drone traffic management program that would in effect be a separate air traffic control system for things that fly low to the ground — around 400 to 500 feet for most drones. Much like the air traffic control system for conventional aircraft, the program would monitor the skies for weather and traffic. Wind is a particular hazard, because drones weigh so little compared with regular planes." Beyond that, the sheer scale of infrastructure necessary to get drone delivery up and running in cities across the U.S. is staggering. Commercial drones aren't going to have much range, particularly when carrying something heavy. They'll be noisy, and the products they're transporting will still need to be relatively close by. What other issues do Amazon, DHL, Google, and other need to solve?

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Hackers Behind Biggest-Ever Password Theft Begin Attacks

Tue, 02/09/2014 - 01:01
An anonymous reader writes Back in August, groups of Russian hackers assembled the biggest list of compromised login credentials ever seen: 1.2 billion accounts. Now, domain registrar Namecheap reports the hackers have begun using the list to try and access accounts. "Overnight, our intrusion detection systems alerted us to a much higher than normal load against our login systems. ... The group behind this is using the stored usernames and passwords to simulate a web browser login through fake browser software. This software simulates the actual login process a user would use if they are using Firefox/Safari/Chrome to access their Namecheap account. The hackers are going through their username/password list and trying each and every one to try and get into Namecheap user accounts." They report that most login attempts are failing, but some are succeeding. Now is a good time to check that none of your important accounts share passwords.

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Tox, a Skype Replacement Built On 'Privacy First'

Mon, 01/09/2014 - 23:59
An anonymous reader writes: Rumors of back door access to Skype have plagued the communication software for the better part of a decade. Even if it's not true, Skype is owned by Microsoft, which is beholden to data requests from law enforcement. Because of these issues, a group of developers started work on Tox, which aims to rebuild the functionality of Skype with an emphasis on privacy. "The main thing the Tox team is trying to do, besides provide encryption, is create a tool that requires no central servers whatsoever—not even ones that you would host yourself. It relies on the same technology that BitTorrent uses to provide direct connections between users, so there's no central hub to snoop on or take down."

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The Passenger Pigeon: A Century of Extinction

Mon, 01/09/2014 - 13:13
An anonymous reader writes On September 1, 1914, Martha, the last passenger pigeon was found dead in her aviary at the Cincinnati Zoo. When the first European settlers arrived in North America at least one of every four birds on the continent was a passenger pigeon, making them the most numerous birds in North America, and perhaps in the world. From the article: "But extinction apparently doesn't ring with the finality it used to. Researchers are working to 'de-extinct' the bird. They got their hands on some of the 1,500 or so known passenger pigeon specimens and are hoping to resurrect the species through some Jurassic Park-like genetic engineering. Instead of using frog DNA to fill out the missing parts of a dinosaur's genetic code as in Michael Crichton's story, the real-life 'bring-back-the-passenger pigeon' researchers are using the bird's closest relative, the band-tailed pigeon.

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Hacker Disrupts New Zealand Election Campaign

Mon, 01/09/2014 - 10:10
An anonymous reader writes New Zealand is facing its weirdest election ever with a hacker calling himself "Rawshark" progressively dumping emails hacked from a controversial blogger. This weekend, revelations forced the resignation of one Government minister and nobody knows what will drop next. Emails revealed that the blogger, called "Whale Oil", was in contact with both a government minister in charge of New Zealand's white collar crime investigations unit and with a PR man acting for a founder of a failed finance company then under investigation.

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Apple Said To Team With Visa, MasterCard On iPhone Wallet

Mon, 01/09/2014 - 07:04
An anonymous reader writes with news about a possible partnership between Apple and major credit card companies. Apple plans to turn its next iPhone into a mobile wallet through a partnership with major payment networks, banks and retailers, according a person familiar with the situation. The agreement includes Visa, MasterCard, and American Express and will be unveiled on Sept. 9 along with the next iPhone, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The new iPhone will make mobile payment easier by including a near-field communication chip for the first time, the person said. That advancement along with Touch ID, a fingerprint recognition reader that debuted on the most recent iPhone, will allow consumers to securely pay for items in a store with the touch of a finger.

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Yahoo Stops New Development On YUI

Sun, 31/08/2014 - 23:52
First time accepted submitter dnebin writes Yahoo announced that they will cease new development on their javascript framework YUI, bowing to industry trends towards Node.js, Angular, and others. The announcement reads in part: "The consequence of this evolution in web technologies is that large JavaScript libraries, such as YUI, have been receiving less attention from the community. Many developers today look at large JavaScript libraries as walled gardens they don't want to be locked into. As a result, the number of YUI issues and pull requests we've received in the past couple of years has slowly reduced to a trickle. Most core YUI modules do not have active maintainers, relying instead on a slow stream of occasional patches from external contributors. Few reviewers still have the time to ensure that the patches submitted are reviewed quickly and thoroughly."

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The Apache Software Foundation Now Accepting BitCoin For Donations

Sun, 31/08/2014 - 22:46
rbowen writes The Apache Software Foundation is the latest not-for-profit organization to accept bitcoin donations, as pointed out by a user on the Bitcoin subreddit. The organization is well known for their catalog of open-source software, including the ubiquitous Apache web server, Hadoop, Tomcat, Cassandra, and about 150 other projects. Users in the community have been eager to support their efforts using digital currency for quite a while. The Foundation accepts donations in many different forms: Amazon, PayPal, and they'll even accept donated cars. On their contribution page the Apache Software Foundation has published a bitcoin address and QR code.

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DNA Reveals History of Vanished "Paleo-Eskimos"

Sun, 31/08/2014 - 21:34
An anonymous reader writes The earliest people in the North American Arctic remained isolated from others in the region for over 4,000 years before vanishing around 700 years ago, new analysis shows. The study also reveals that today's Inuit and Native Americans of the Arctic are genetically distinct from the region's first settlers. "A single founding population settled, and endured the harsh environmental conditions of the Arctic, for almost 5,000 years — during which time the culture and lifestyle changed enough to be represented as distinct cultural units," explained Dr Maanasa Raghavan, first author of the new paper.

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Ukraine Asks Zuckerberg to Discipline Kremlin Facebook Bots

Sun, 31/08/2014 - 19:12
mi writes "Ukrainian media is reporting (link in Ukrainian), that Facebook is getting increasingly heavy-handed blocking Ukrainian bloggers. The likely explanation for the observed phenomenon is that Facebook's Ukrainian office is located in Russia and is headed by a Russian citizen (Catherine Skorobogatov). For example, a post calling on Russian mothers to not let their sons go to war was blocked "Due to multiple complaints". Fed up, Ukrainian users are writing directly to Zukerberg to ask him to replace Catherine with someone, who would not be quite as swayed by the "complaints" generated by Russian bots.

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Update: Raspberry Pi-Compatible Development Board Cancelled

Sun, 31/08/2014 - 18:00
An anonymous reader writes "Anyone who might have been interested in the miniature Raspberry Pi compatible board mentioned here a month ago should know the board has been cancelled due to problems sourcing the Broadcom SoC. Given the less than welcoming response from the rpi community to the board's release, there is speculation as to why Hardkernel is having trouble buying the chip.

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Feynman Lectures Released Free Online

Sun, 31/08/2014 - 16:48
Anna Merikin writes In 1964, Richard Feynman delivered a series of seven hour-long lectures at Cornell University which were recorded by the BBC, and in 2009 (with a little help from Bill Gates), were released to the public. The three-volume set may be the most popular collection of physics books ever written, and now the complete online edition has been made available in HTML 5 through a collaboration between Caltech (where Feyman first delivered these talks, in the early 1960s) and The Feynman Lectures Website. The online edition is "high quality up-to-date copy of Feynman's legendary lectures," and, thanks to the implementation of scalable vector graphics, "has been designed for ease of reading on devices of any size or shape; text, figures and equations can all be zoomed without degradation." Volume I deals mainly with mechanics, radiation and heat; Volume II with electromagnetism and matter; and Volume III with quantum mechanics. Last year we told you when Volume I was made available. It's great to see the rest added.

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Microsoft Shutting Down MSN Messenger After 15 Years of Service

Sun, 31/08/2014 - 15:40
First time accepted submitter airfuz writes Microsoft took a bold move announcing that users have to move away from the old version of internet explorer to the new version 11. And now not long after that, Microsoft announced that they are shutting down the 15 year old MSN Messenger. Most people have moved away from the service to Facebook and other mobile based messenger such as Whatsapp and so MSN is left with few users. But still, ending a 15 year messaging service like the MSN Messenger means something to the one's who grew up using it.

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Iceland Raises Volcano Aviation Alert Again

Sun, 31/08/2014 - 14:38
An anonymous reader writes Iceland's authorities have raised an aviation warning for a region close to the Bardarbunga volcano after a small fissure eruption in the area. The eruption began around 0600 GMT prompting the Icelandic Met Office to raise the aviation warning code to red for the Bardarbunga/Holuhraun area, the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management said in a statement. The country's meteorological agency described the eruption as a "very calm lava eruption and can hardly be seen on seismometers."

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Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

Sun, 31/08/2014 - 13:28
schwit1 writes: Check out this detailed and informative look at the unspoken competiton between NASA's SLS rocket and SpaceX's planned heavy lift rocket. It's being designed to be even more powerful than the Falcon Heavy. Key quote: "It is clear SpaceX envisions a rocket far more powerful than even the fully evolved Block 2 SLS – a NASA rocket that isn't set to be launched until the 2030s." The SpaceX rocket hinges on whether the company can successfully build its new Raptor engine. If they do, they will have their heavy lift rocket in the air and functioning far sooner than NASA, and for far less money.

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Post-Microsoft Nokia Offering Mapping Services To Samsung

Sun, 31/08/2014 - 10:30
jfruh writes: With Nokia's Windows Phone handset line sold off to Microsoft, one of the company's remaining businesses is its Here digital mapping service. No longer feeling loyalty to Microsoft or its OS, Nokia has inked a deal with Samsung to supply Here services to both Tizen and Android devices, including the upcoming Samsung smartwatch.

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