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Interviews: Ask Malcolm Gladwell a Question

Tue, 18/11/2014 - 17:25
Malcolm Gladwell is a speaker, author, and staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996. Gladwell's writing often focuses on research in the social sciences and the unexpected connections or theories made from such research. His books: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Outliers: The Story of Success, and David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants are all New York Times best sellers. Malcolm has agreed to give us some of his time to answer any question you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.

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Crowdfunded Linux Voice Magazine Releases First Issue CC-BY-SA

Tue, 18/11/2014 - 16:39
M-Saunders (706738) writes Linux Voice, the crowdfunded GNU/Linux magazine that Slashdot has covered previously, had two goals at its launch: to give 50% of its profits back to the community after one year, and release each issue's contents under the Creative Commons after nine months. Well, it's been nine months since issue 1, so the whole thing is now online and free to share. Readers and supporters have also made audio versions of articles, for listening to on the commute to work.

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NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet Android Lollipop Update Performance Explored

Tue, 18/11/2014 - 15:56
MojoKid writes Last week, NVIDIA offered information regarding its Android Lollipop update for the SHIELD Tablet and also revealed a new game bundle for it. This week, NVIDIA gave members of the press early access to the Lollipop update and it will also be rolling out to the general public sometime later today. Some of the changes are subtle, but others are more significant and definitely give the tablet a different look and feel over the original Android KitKat release. Android Lollipop introduces a new "material design" that further flattens out the look of the OS. Google seems to have taken a more minimalist approach as everything from the keyboard to the settings menus have been cleaned up considerably. Many parts of the interface don't have any markings except for the absolute necessities. While the OS definitely feels more fluid and responsive, the default look isn't always better, depending on your personal view. The app tray for example has a plain, white background which looks kind of jarring if you've using a colorful background. And finding the proper touch points for things like a settings menu or clearing notifications isn't always clear. Performance-wise, NVIDIA's Shield Tablet showed significantly better performance on Lollipop for general compute tasks in benchmarks like Mobile XPRT but lagged behind Kit Kat in graphics performance slightly, which could be attributed to driver optimization.

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Microsoft Releases Out-of-Band Security Patch For Windows

Tue, 18/11/2014 - 15:15
mrspoonsi writes Microsoft has announced today that they will be pushing an out-of-band security patch today. The patch, which affects nearly all of the company's major platforms, is rated 'critical' and it is recommended that you install the patch immediately. The patch is rated 'critical' because it allows for elevation of privileges and will require a restart. The platforms that are affected include: Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows 8 and 8.1, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows RT and Windows RT 8.1 and Windows 10 Technical Preview customers are affected, too.

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Uber Threatens To Do 'Opposition Research' On Journalists

Tue, 18/11/2014 - 14:29
Nerval's Lobster writes A senior executive at Uber reportedly told a Buzzfeed reporter that the company "should consider hiring a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on its critics in the media — and specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticized the company." As detailed by the executive, Uber would spend a million dollars on the effort, which would involve "four top opposition researchers and four journalists," and dig into personal lives and families. Uber has pushed back against the report, insisting that it's never done opposition research, but the idea of any company engaging in such practices seems more like something Nixon would have dreamed up at his worst than a strategy by a "disruptive" startup.

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Court Rules Google's Search Results Qualify As Free Speech

Tue, 18/11/2014 - 13:49
wabrandsma writes with this news from Ars Technica: The regulation of Google's search results has come up from time to time over the past decade, and although the idea has gained some traction in Europe (most recently with "right to be forgotten" laws), courts and regulatory bodies in the U.S. have generally agreed that Google's search results are considered free speech. That consensus was upheld last Thursday, when a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Google's right to order its search results as it sees fit.

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Polyphonic Overtone Singing Explained Visually With Spectrograms

Tue, 18/11/2014 - 13:27
New submitter Tucano writes The overtone singer Anna-Maria Hefele can sing two notes at the same time. In her latest video, spectrograms and frequency filters are used to explain how she can produce two melody lines at the same time, and how she uses her mouth to filter the frequencies of her voice. When the voice produces a sound, many harmonics (or overtones) sound at the same time, and we normally hear this as a single tone. In overtone singing, the mouth filters out all harmonics but one, and the one that remains is amplified to become louder. This is then perceived as a separate tone, next to the fundamental. In her video, Anna-Maria shows techniques that become increasingly advanced. She shows the overtone scale (steady fundamental, moving overtone), the undertone scale (steady overtone, moving fundamental), parallel movement and opposing movement of overtone and fundamental, and even complex compositions with two separate melody lines.

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Machine-Learning Algorithm Ranks the World's Most Notable Authors

Tue, 18/11/2014 - 13:13
HughPickens.com writes: Every year the works of thousands of authors enter the public domain, but only a small percentage of these end up being widely available. So how do organizations such as Project Gutenberg choose which works to focus on? Allen Riddell has developed an algorithm that automatically generates an independent ranking of notable authors for any given year. It is then a simple task to pick the works to focus on or to spot notable omissions from the past. Riddell's approach is to look at what kind of public domain content the world has focused on in the past and then use this as a guide to find content that people are likely to focus on in the future. Riddell's algorithm begins with the Wikipedia entries of all authors in the English language edition (PDF)—more than a million of them. His algorithm extracts information such as the article length, article age, estimated views per day, time elapsed since last revision, and so on. This produces a "public domain ranking" of all the authors that appear on Wikipedia. For example, the author Virginia Woolf has a ranking of 1,081 out of 1,011,304 while the Italian painter Giuseppe Amisani, who died in the same year as Woolf, has a ranking of 580,363. So Riddell's new ranking clearly suggests that organizations like Project Gutenberg should focus more on digitizing Woolf's work than Amisani's. Of the individuals who died in 1965 and whose work will enter the public domain next January in many parts of the world, the new algorithm picks out TS Eliot as the most highly ranked individual. Others highly ranked include Somerset Maugham, Winston Churchill, and Malcolm X.

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Intel Announces Major Reorg To Combine Mobile and PC Divisions

Tue, 18/11/2014 - 10:15
MojoKid writes: For the past year, Intel has pursued what's known as a "contra-revenue" strategy in its mobile division, where product is deliberately sold at a loss to win market share and compete effectively. This has led to a huge rise in tablet shipments, but heavy losses inside Intel's mobile division. Today, the company announced that it would take steps to fold its mobile and conventional processors into a single operating division. While this helps shield the mobile segment from poor short-term results, it also reflects the reality that computing is something users now do across a wide range of devices and multiple operating systems. Intel may not have hit anything like the mobile targets it set out years ago, but long-term success in laptops, tablets, and smartphones remains integral to the company's finances. Desktops and conventional laptops are just one way people compute today and Intel needs to make certain it has a robust long-term presence in every major computing market.

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Elite: Dangerous Dumps Offline Single-Player

Tue, 18/11/2014 - 07:20
Robotron23 writes: The developers behind the sequel to legendary video game Elite have, to the anger and dismay of fans, dropped the offline single-player mode originally promised. The game is due for full release in under a month. With the title having raised about $1.5 million from Kickstarter, and millions more in subsequent campaigns that advertised the feature, gamers are livid. A complaints thread on the official Elite forums has swelled to 450+ pages in only three days, while refunds are being lodged in the thousands. It is down to the discretion of Frontier, the game's developer, whether to process refund requests of original backers.

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HTML5: It's Already Everywhere, Even In Mobile

Tue, 18/11/2014 - 05:24
electronic convict writes: Tom Dale has never been shy, and in a Q&A with Matt Asay on ReadWrite, the EmberJS co-founder and JavaScript evangelist makes the outspoken claim that open Web technologies are already everywhere, even in native mobile apps, and that it's only a matter of time before they catch up to "all the capabilities of a native, proprietary platform." Take that, Web-is-dead doomsayers. Dale has plenty more to say, calling Google an "adolescent behemoth" that's belatedly embracing open-Web technologies in mobile, lauding Apple's Nitro JS engine and belittling the idea that Web apps have to look and feel the same as native apps for the open Web to triumph. His bottom line: "[I]t's not hard to see that the future of the Web on mobile is a happy one."

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Electric Shock Study Suggests We'd Rather Hurt Ourselves Than Others

Tue, 18/11/2014 - 03:28
sciencehabit writes: If you had the choice between hurting yourself or someone else in exchange for money, how altruistic do you think you'd be? In one infamous experiment, people were quite willing to deliver painful shocks to anonymous victims when asked by a scientist. But a new study that forced people into the dilemma of choosing between pain and profit finds that participants cared more about other people's well-being than their own. It is hailed as the first hard evidence of altruism for the young field of behavioral economics.

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NYC To Replace Most of Its Payphones With Free Gigabit WiFi In 2015

Tue, 18/11/2014 - 01:24
mrspoonsi writes: New York City announced today it has picked the companies that will deliver the technology behind its deployment of free, gigabit Wi-Fi to pay phone stations throughout the city. The LinkNYC stations will also include charging outlets, touchscreen displays that interface with city services, and free U.S. calling. It will be funded through advertising. Construction will begin in 2015, and officials expect up to 10,000 stations to be installed before it's done.

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Do Good Programmers Need Agents?

Tue, 18/11/2014 - 00:42
braindrainbahrain writes: A rock star needs an agent, so maybe a rock star programmer needs one, too. As described in The New Yorker, a talent agency called 10x, which got started in the music business, is not your typical head hunter/recruiter agency. "The company's name comes from the idea, well established in the tech world, that the very best programmers are superstars, capable of achieving ten times the productivity of their merely competent colleagues." The writer talks with a number of programmers using agents to find work, who generally seem pleased with it, though the article has viewpoints from skeptics as well.

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Robots Put To Work On E-Waste

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 23:58
aesoteric writes: Australian researchers have programmed industrial robots to tackle the vast array of e-waste thrown out every year. The research shows robots can learn and memorize how various electronic products — such as LCD screens — are designed, enabling those products to be disassembled for recycling faster and faster. The end goal is less than five minutes to dismantle a product.

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The Dutch Village Where Everyone Has Dementia

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 23:03
HughPickens.com writes Josh Planos writes at The Atlantic that the isolated village of Hogewey on the outskirts of Amsterdam has been dubbed "Dementia Village" because it is home to residents who are only admitted if they're categorized as having severe cases of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. "There are no wards, long hallways, or corridors at the facility," writes Planos. "Residents live in groups of six or seven to a house, with one or two caretakers. Perhaps the most unique element of the facility—apart from the stealthy "gardener" caretakers—is its approach toward housing. Hogeway features 23 uniquely stylized homes, furnished around the time period when residents' short-term memories stopped properly functioning. There are homes resembling the 1950s, 1970s, and 2000s, accurate down to the tablecloths, because it helps residents feel as if they're home." In Holland, everyone pays into the state health care system during their working years, with the money then disbursed to pay for later-in-life expenses — and that means living in Hogewey does not cost any more than a traditional nursing home. The inspiration came about in 1992, when Yvonne van Amerongen and another member of staff at a traditional nursing home both had their own mothers die, being glad that their elderly parents had died quickly and had not had to endure hospital-like care. A series of research and brainstorming sessions in 1993 found that humans choose to surround and interact with other like-minded people of similar backgrounds and experiences; the arrangement at Hogewey provides this by ensuring that residents with similar backgrounds continue to live closely together. On a physical level, residents at Hogewey require fewer medications; they eat better and they live longer. On a mental level, they also seem to have more joy. "The people here keep their independence, as much as they can have of it, and they stay active," says Theo Visser. "Here they still have a life. It's not the sort of slow, quiet death you get in other places. Here everyone feels at home."

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Scientists Optimistic About Getting a Mammoth Genome Complete Enough To Clone

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 22:19
Clark Schultz writes The premise behind Jurassic Park just got a bit more real after scientists in South Korea said they are optimistic they can extract enough DNA from the blood of a preserved woolly mammoth to clone the long-extinct mammal. The ice-wrapped woolly mammoth was found last year on an island off of Siberia. The development is being closely watched by the scientific community with opinion sharply divided on the ethics of the project.

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Tor Eyes Crowdfunding Campaign To Upgrade Its Hidden Services

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 21:35
apexcp writes The web's biggest anonymity network is considering a crowdfunding campaign to overhaul its hidden services. From the article: "In the last 15 months, several of the biggest anonymous websites on the Tor network have been identified and seized by police. In most cases, no one is quite sure how it happened. The details of such a campaign have yet to be revealed. With enough funding, Tor could have developers focusing their work entirely on hidden services, a change in developer priorities that many Tor users have been hoping for in recent years."

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Toyota Names Upcoming Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 21:14
An anonymous reader writes Toyota has announced the name of its new hydrogen-powered car: Mirai, which means "future" in Japanese. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said: "Today, we are at a turning point in automotive history. A turning point where a four-door sedan can travel 300 miles on a single tank of hydrogen, can be refueled in under five minutes and emit only water vapor."

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Fascinating Rosetta Image Captures Philae's Comet Bounce

Mon, 17/11/2014 - 20:53
mpicpp points out that high-resolution pictures have been released of Philae's landing. "The hunt for Rosetta's lost lander Philae is gaining steam as scientists pore over images from above the comet that may help reveal its final location. The ESA released an image Monday taken by Rosetta's OSIRIS camera showing Philae's first bounce on the comet. The mosaic includes a series of pictures tracking the lander descending toward the comet, the initial touchdown point and then an image of the lander moving east. 'The imaging team is confident that combining the CONSERT ranging data with OSIRIS and navcam images from the orbiter and images from near the surface and on it from Philae's ROLIS and CIVA cameras will soon reveal the lander's whereabouts,' says the ESA."

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