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Coding Bootcamps Presented As "College Alternative"

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 20:10
ErichTheRed writes Perhaps this is the sign that the Web 2.0 bubble is finally at its peak. CNN produced a piece on DevBootcamp, a 19-week intensive coding academy designed to turn out Web developers at a rapid pace. I remember Microsoft and Cisco certification bootcamps from the peak of the last tech bubble, and the flood of under-qualified "IT professionals" they produced. Now that developer bootcamps are in the mainsteam media, can the end of the bubble be far away?

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What the US Can Learn From Canada's Internet Policy

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 19:28
blottsie writes As the U.S. continues to debate how best to establish net neutrality regulations over Internet service providers, author and journalist Peter Nowak explains how how Canada has already dealt with these issues, and what the U.S. can learn from its neighbor to the north."[Canadian Prime Minister Stephen] Harper has made the connection between telecom policy and actual votes, and that has had enormous impact on public policy," says Michael Geist, the Canada Research Chair in internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa. "This is a ballot-box or pocket-book issue that hasn't really been seen yet in the United States."

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The New-ish Technologies That Will Alter Your Career

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 19:09
Nerval's Lobster writes Over at Dice, there's a discussion of the technologies that could actually alter how you work (and what you work on) over the next few years, including 3D printing, embedded systems, and evolving Web APIs. Granted, predicting the future with any accuracy is a nigh-impossible feat, and a lot of nascent technologies come with an accompanying amount of hype. But given how these listed technologies have actually been around in one form or another for years, and don't seem to be fading away, it seems likely that they'll prove an increasing factor in how we live and work over the next decade and beyond. For those who have no interest in mastering aspects of the so-called "Internet of Things," or other tech on this list, never fear: if the past two decades have taught us anything, it's that lots of old hardware and software never truly goes away, either (hi, mainframes!).

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Interviews: Warren Ellis Answers Your Questions

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 18:47
Recently you had a chance to ask acclaimed author of comics, novels, and television, Warren Ellis, about his work and sci-fi in general. Below you'll find his answers to your questions.

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Group Tries To Open Source Seeds

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 18:04
jenwike writes The Open Source Seed Initiative is a passionate group that wants to ensure their seeds are never patented, but making sure seeds are free for use and distribution by anyone isn't as easy as you might think. Part of the equation are plant characteristics, like an extended head on lettuce — is that an invention? Or, would you argue that it is the product of the collective sharing of material that improves the whole crop over time? In this report, one farmer says, "If you're not exchanging germplasm, you're cutting your own throat."

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Military Laser/Radio Tech Proposed As Alternative To Laying Costly Fiber Cable

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 17:22
An anonymous reader writes "Californian comm-tech company Aoptix is testing new laser+radio hybrid communications technology with three major U.S. internet carriers. The equipment required can be bolted onto existing infrastructure, such as cell-tower masts, and can communicate a 2gbps stream over 6.5 miles. The system was developed over 10 years at a cost of $100 million in conjunction with the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the military implementation of it is called Aoptix Enhanced Air Ground Lasercom System (EAGLS). The laser component of the technology uses a deformable mirror to correct for atmospheric distortion over the mast-hop, in real-time. The laser part of the system is backed-up by a redundant radio transmitter. The radio component has low attenuation in rainy conditions with large refracting raindrops, while the laser is more vulnerable to dense fog. The system, which features auto-stabilization to compensate for cell-tower movement and is being proposed as an alternative to the tremendous cost p/m of laying fiber cable, is being tested in Mexico and Nigeria in addition to the three ISP trials.

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Big Talk About Small Samples

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 16:40
Bennett Haselton writes: My last article garnered some objections from readers saying that the sample sizes were too small to draw meaningful conclusions. (36 out of 47 survey-takers, or 77%, said that a picture of a black woman breast-feeding was inappropriate; while in a different group, 38 out of 54 survey-takers, or 70%, said that a picture of a white woman breast-feeding was inappropriate in the same context.) My conclusion was that, even on the basis of a relatively small sample, the evidence was strongly against a "huge" gap in the rates at which the surveyed population would consider the two pictures to be inappropriate. I stand by that, but it's worth presenting the math to support that conclusion, because I think the surveys are valuable tools when you understand what you can and cannot demonstrate with a small sample. (Basically, a small sample can present only weak evidence as to what the population average is, but you can confidently demonstrate what it is not.) Keep reading to see what Bennett has to say.

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Magic Tricks Created Using Artificial Intelligence For the First Time

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 15:58
An anonymous reader writes Researchers working on artificial intelligence at Queen Mary University of London have taught a computer to create magic tricks. The researchers gave a computer program the outline of how a magic jigsaw puzzle and a mind reading card trick work, as well the results of experiments into how humans understand magic tricks, and the system created completely new variants on those tricks which can be delivered by a magician.

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Sweden Considers Adding "Sexism" Ratings To Video Games

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 15:15
An anonymous reader writes A government-funded agency in Sweden is considering creating specials label for video games based on whether or not the games' portrayals of women are sexist. From the article: "Avoiding sexism and gender stereotypes in video games produced in Sweden will become a key goal for the association, which has been given a 272,000 kronor ($36,672) grant by Sweden's government-funded innovation agency, Vinnova. Inspired by the Bechdel test, which looks at whether fictional films or books feature at least two women talking about a topic other than men, Dataspelsbranchen will work with several game developers to analyze how Swedish video games portray female characters and gender issues."

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Magnetic Field In Meteorite Provides Clues About Formation of Solar System

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 14:33
An anonymous reader writes Scientists have discovered a meteorite that provides evidence that intense magnetic fields caused the formation of the solar system. A meteorite called Semarkona crashed in northern India in 1940 and is now being studied for signs of primordial magnetic fields. Lead researcher, Roger Fu, a planetary scientist at MIT says: "It's a very primitive meteorite, which means that since it formed about 4.5 billion years ago, not much has happened to it, this means it preserves the properties it had when it first formed, helping shed light on that time." From the article: "This meteorite is made up of mostly tiny round pellets known as chondrules, which formed droplets that quickly cooled in space. According to the study, the scientists focused on these chondrules that possessed iron-bearing minerals, known as dusty olivine crystals, and if they appeared to have a magnetic field present while they were cooling, then the magnetic properties of these crystals might have recorded the strength of the magnetic fields."

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Facebook Planning Office Version To Rival LinkedIn, Google

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 13:51
An anonymous reader points out a report that Facebook may be coming out with an office version to take on LinkedIn. Facebook at Work would “allow users to chat with colleagues, connect with professional contacts and collaborate over documents.” "Facebook is reportedly gearing up to take on LinkedIn, Google's Drive and services, Microsoft's Outlook and Yammer with a workplace-friendly version of the social networking site, but such a dream is unlikely to appeal to the enterprise. As reported last week by the Financial Times, "Facebook at Work" is a new product designed to allow professional users to message colleagues, connect with professional contacts and collaborate over documents. The website will have the same look as standard Facebook — including a news feed and groups — but according to people familiar with the matter, the idea is to keep work and personal accounts separate. It makes sense for the social networking giant. Launching a professional version can boost ad revenue, keep engagement up and give the company a valuable new market to tap. But in application, cracking the corporate world won't be easy."

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State Department Joins NOAA, USPS In Club of Hacked Federal Agencies

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 13:08
Hot on the heels of recent cyber attacks on NOAA, the USPS, and the White House, the New York Times Reports that the U.S. State Department has also suffered an online security breach, though it's not clear who to blame. “This has impacted some of our unclassified email traffic and our access to public websites from our main unclassified system,” said one senior State Department official, adding that the department expected its systems to be up soon. ....The breach at the White House was believed to be the work of hackers in Russia, while the breaches at NOAA and the Postal Service were believed to the work of hackers inside China. Attributing attacks to a group or nation is difficult because hackers typically tend to route their attack through compromised web servers all over the world. A senior State Department official said the breach was discovered after “activity of concern” was detected on portions of its unclassified computer system. Officials did not say how long hackers may have been lurking in those systems, but security improvements were being added to them on Sunday.

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World's Youngest Microsoft Certificated Professional Is Five Years Old

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 10:56
HughPickens.com writes Gurvinder Gill writes at BBC that Ayan Qureshi is the world's youngest Microsoft Certified Professional after passing the tech giant's exam when he was just five years old. Qureshi's father introduced his son to computers when he was three years old. He let him play with his old computers, so he could understand hard drives and motherboards. "I found whatever I was telling him, the next day he'd remember everything I said, so I started to feed him more information," Qureshi explained. "Too much computing at this age can cause a negative effect, but in Ayan's case he has cached this opportunity." Ayan has his own computer lab at his home in Coventry, containing a computer network which he built and spends around two hours a day learning about the operating system, how to install programs, and has his own web site. Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) is a certification that validates IT professional and developer technical expertise through rigorous, industry-proven, and industry-recognized exams. MCP exams cover a wide range of Microsoft products, technologies, and solutions. When the boy arrived to take the Microsoft exam, the invigilators were concerned that he was too young to be a candidate. His father reassured them that Ayan would be all right on his own. "There were multiple choice questions, drag and drop questions, hotspot questions and scenario-based questions," Ayan's father told the BBC Asian Network. "The hardest challenge was explaining the language of the test to a five-year-old. But he seemed to pick it up and has a very good memory."

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Preview Jaunt's Made-for-VR 360 Degree, 3D Short Films

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 07:51
An anonymous reader writes Jaunt, a company that's raised more than $34 million to create a platform for live-action cinematic virtual reality experiences, has set out to demonstrate their toolset by producing three made-for-VR short films that are shot in 360 degrees and in 3D. Road to VR has an exclusive preview of the films, which the company says will have interactive trailers released very soon for Oculus Rift and Android (for use with Cardboard and other smartphone VR adapters).

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Leonid Meteor Shower Hits Tonight, Peaks Tomorrow

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 04:46
Though expectations for a spectacular show may be low, the Leonid meteor shower is on the way. For those in the continental U.S., late Monday night into Tuesday early morning will be your best chance to catch a few glimpses. Space.com explains why you might see only a smattering of meteors: This year finds Comet Tempel-Tuttle nearing the far end of its elongated orbit. In 2010, the comet crossed the orbit of Uranus and in 2016 it will be as far from the sun as it can get: 1.84 billion miles (2.96 billion km). That's not only where the comet is, but also where the heaviest concentrations of meteoroids are as well. In contrast, at the point in the comet's orbit where we will be passing by on Tuesday morning, there is nothing save for a scattered few particles; stragglers likely loosed from the comet's nucleus a millennium or two ago. So the 2014 Leonids are expected to show only low activity this year; "maybe" at best 5 to 10 Leonids per hour might be seen.

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Scientists Discover Diamond Nanothreads

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 02:59
First time accepted submitter sokol815 writes Penn State University scientists discovered diamond nanothreads can be created from benzene when compressed. The compression brings the benzene molecules into a highly reactive state. It was expected that the molecules would create a non-ordered glass-like material, but due to the slow speed of decompression used, the benzene molecules ordered themselves into a naturally repeating crystal. The experiment took place at room-temperature. Early results indicate that these nanothreads are stronger than previously produced carbon nanotubes, and may have applications throughout the engineering industry.

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A Worm's Mind In a Lego Body

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 01:37
mikejuk writes The nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) is tiny and only has 302 neurons. These have been completely mapped, and one of the founders of the OpenWorm project, Timothy Busbice, has taken the connectome and implemented an object oriented neuron program. The neurons communicate by sending UDP packets across the network. The software works with sensors and effectors provided by a simple LEGO robot. The sensors are sampled every 100ms. For example, the sonar sensor on the robot is wired as the worm's nose. If anything comes within 20cm of the 'nose' then UDP packets are sent to the sensory neurons in the network. The motor neurons are wired up to the left and right motors of the robot. It is claimed that the robot behaved in ways that are similar to observed C. elegans. Stimulation of the nose stopped forward motion. Touching the anterior and posterior touch sensors made the robot move forward and back accordingly. Stimulating the food sensor made the robot move forward. The key point is that there was no programming or learning involved to create the behaviors. The connectome of the worm was mapped and implemented as a software system and the behaviors emerge. Is the robot a C. elegans in a different body or is it something quite new? Is it alive? These are questions for philosophers, but it does suggest that the ghost in the machine is just the machine. The important question is does it scale?

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Battlestar Galactica Creator Glen A. Larson Dead At 77

Sun, 16/11/2014 - 23:59
schwit1 writes Glen A. Larson, the wildly successful television writer-producer whose enviable track record includes 'Six Million Dollar Man', Quincy M.E., Magnum, P.I., Battlestar Galactica, Knight Rider and The Fall Guy, has died. He was 77. From the article: Battlestar Galactica lasted just one season on ABC from 1978-79, yet the show had an astronomical impact. Starring Lorne Greene and Richard Hatch as leaders of a homeless fleet wandering through space, featuring special effects supervised by Star Wars’ John Dykstra and influenced by Larson’s Mormon beliefs, Battlestar premiered as a top 10 show and finished the year in the top 25. But it was axed after 24 episodes because, Larson said, each episode cost “well over” $1 million.

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Battlestar Galactica Creato, Glen A. Larson Dead At 77

Sun, 16/11/2014 - 23:59
schwit1 writes Glen A. Larson, the wildly successful television writer-producer whose enviable track record includes 'Six Million Dollar Man', Quincy M.E., Magnum, P.I., Battlestar Galactica, Knight Rider and The Fall Guy, has died. He was 77. From the article: Battlestar Galactica lasted just one season on ABC from 1978-79, yet the show had an astronomical impact. Starring Lorne Greene and Richard Hatch as leaders of a homeless fleet wandering through space, featuring special effects supervised by Star Wars’ John Dykstra and influenced by Larson’s Mormon beliefs, Battlestar premiered as a top 10 show and finished the year in the top 25. But it was axed after 24 episodes because, Larson said, each episode cost “well over” $1 million.

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Ars Dissects Android's Problems With Big Screens -- Including In Lollipop

Sun, 16/11/2014 - 23:46
When it comes to tablets, Google doesn't even follow its own design guidelines." That's the upshot of Ars Technica writer Andew Cunningham's detailed, illustrated look at how Android handles screens much larger than seven inches, going back to the first large Android tablets a few years ago, but including Android 5.0 (Lollipop) on the Nexus 10 and similar sized devices. Cunningham is unimpressed with the use of space for both practical and aesthetic reasons, and says that problems crop up areas that are purely under Google's control, like control panels and default apps, as well as (more understandably) in third party apps. The Nexus 10 took 10-inch tablets back to the "blown-up phone" version of the UI, where buttons and other UI stuff was all put in the center of the screen. This makes using a 10-inch tablet the same as using a 7-inch tablet or a phone, which is good for consistency, but in retrospect it was a big step backward for widescreen tablets. The old interface put everything at the edges of the screen where your thumbs could easily reach them. The new one often requires the pointer finger of one of your hands or some serious thumb-stretching. ... If anything, Lollipop takes another step backward here. You used to be able to swipe down on the left side of the screen to see your notifications and the right side of the screen to see the Quick Settings, and now those two menus have been unified and placed right in the center of the screen. The Nexus 10 is the most comfortable to use if it's lying flat on a table or stand and Lollipop does nothing to help you out there.

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