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What's In a Username? the Power of Gamer Tags

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 02:04
An anonymous reader writes "Are pro gamers good because they're good, or just because their usernames make you think they are? New scientific research suggests it may actually be a little bit of both. What's most interesting about this isn't what it says about current players, but how up and coming gamers will choose their own handles in future, both to intimidate opponents — and pull in the audiences that help subsidize their budding careers."

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China Cracks Down On Bitcoin, Cuts Off Exchanges' Bank Access

Thu, 03/04/2014 - 19:13
jfruh (300774) writes "Bitcoin has made many governments and regulators uncomfortable, and the Chinese government is responding to the challenge it poses with its usual lack of subtlety. Two Chinese bitcoin exchanges have found themselves cut off from the money economy, as Chinese banks, under pressure from the government, refuse to do business with them."

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Amazon's Fire TV: Is It Worth Game Developers' Time?

Thu, 03/04/2014 - 18:32
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Amazon is serious about conquering the living room: the online retailer has launched Fire TV, a set-top box that not only allows viewers to stream content, but also play games. That streaming-and-gaming capability makes Amazon a threat to Apple, which rumors suggest is hard at work on an Apple TV capable of doing the same things. In addition, Fire TV puts the screws to other streaming hardware, including Roku and Google's Chromecast, as well as smaller game consoles such as Ouya (a $99, Android-based device). Much of Amazon's competitive muscle comes from its willingness to sell hardware for cheap (the Fire TV retails for $99) on the expectation that owners will use it to stream and download digital content from Amazon, including television shows and apps. Those developers who've developed Android games have an advantage when it comes to migrating software to Amazon's new platform. "Porting You Don't Know Jack was really like developing for Android, with the exception of the store and the new controller library," Jackbox Games Designer/Director Steve Heinrich told Gamasutra after the Fire TV announcement. "The store itself is the same as the Kindle version, which we've used many times now, and the way the controller works is very close to what we did for Ouya." While Fire TV could represent yet another opportunity for game developers looking to make a buck, it also raises a pressing question: with so many platforms out there (iOS, PC, etc.), how's an indie developer or smaller firm supposed to allocate time and resources to best advantage?"

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Russian GLONASS Down For 12 Hours

Thu, 03/04/2014 - 14:03
An anonymous reader writes "In an unprecedented total disruption of a fully operational GNSS constellation, all satellites in the Russian GLONASS broadcast corrupt information for 11 hours, from just past midnight until noon Russian time (UTC+4), on April 2 (or 5 p.m. on April 1 to 4 a.m. April 2, U.S. Eastern time). This rendered the system completely unusable to all worldwide GLONASS receivers."

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Scientists Solve the Mystery of Why Zebras Have Stripes

Thu, 03/04/2014 - 13:03
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "There have been many explanations for the zebra's impressive stripes including Darwin who thought that the stripes help males and females make sensible choices about whom they mate with. Now Henry Nicholls reports at The Guardian that Tim Caro at the University of California, Davis, has taken a completely original approach, stepping back from one species of zebra and attempting to account for the differences in patterning across different species and subspecies of zebras, horses and asses to see if there is anything about the habitat or ecology of these different equids that hints at the function of stripes. To answer that question, Caro and his colleagues created a detailed map charting the ranges of striped vs. non-striped species and subspecies. Then they worked on a map for the bloodsuckers that targeted those species — specifically, abanid biting flies (horse flies) and tsetse flies. 'I was amazed by our results,' says Caro. 'Again and again, there was greater striping on areas of the body in those parts of the world where there was more annoyance from biting flies.' Where there are tsetse flies, for instance, the equids tend to come in stripes. Where there aren't, they don't. Biologists who buy into the bug-repellent hypothesis say that, all other things being equal, striped animals would have an evolutionary advantage because they wouldn't suffer from the loss of blood, reduced weight gain and lowered milk production that's associated with bug bites. Tsetse flies are also associated with the transmission of diseases. 'There are a lot of them, such as sleeping sickness, equine anemia and equine influenza,' Caro says. Why would zebras evolve to have stripes whereas other hooved mammals did not? The study found that, unlike other African hooved mammals living in the same areas as zebras, zebra hair is shorter than the mouthpart length of biting flies, so zebras may be particularly susceptible to annoyance by biting flies. 'It's clear that the flies can get through that hair and get to the skin.'"

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Ad Tracking: Is Anything Being Done?

Thu, 03/04/2014 - 10:31
bsk_cw (1202181) writes "The W3C's Tracking Protection Working Group has been trying to come up with a way to make targeted ads acceptable to users and useful to advertisers — and so far, hasn't gotten very far. Computerworld's Robert Mitchell has interviewed people on all sides of the issue — consumer privacy advocates, vendors of ad-blocking tools, advertisers and website publishers — to try to unravel the issues and see if any solution is possible at all."

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Fukushima Photo Essay: a Drone's Eye View

Thu, 03/04/2014 - 08:05
Hallie Siegel (2973169) writes "Here's stunning photos and incredible interactive aerial maps of the devastation, cleanup and reconstruction effort in the region around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Adam Klaptocz of Drone Adventures in collaboration with Taichi Furuhashi, researcher at the Center for Spatial Information Science at the University of Tokyo show the current state of the region."

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Will Cameras Replace Sideview Mirrors On Cars In 2018?

Thu, 03/04/2014 - 01:22
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Just the other day we read about how the Department of Transportation will require all manufacturers to include rearview cameras on all new cars produced after May 1, 2018. But there's something else auto manufacturers are pushing for, the ability to replace sideview mirrors with cameras in 2018. Tesla in particular is pushing for this to happen as traditional mirrors are bulky, and not very aerodynamic. That lump of plastic can cause surprising amounts of drag on an otherwise smooth car body. Camera units are much smaller and can be made streamlined, or even mounted nearly flush with the body, thus reducing aerodynamic drag. The idea has been around since the 1990s, and many concept cars have used cameras instead of sideview mirrors for years. But how will NHTSA respond? Is it finally time to ditch the sideview mirror?"

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App Developers, It's Time For a Reality Check

Wed, 02/04/2014 - 22:27
Nerval's Lobster writes: "An article in the Harvard Business Review does its best to punch a small hole in the startup-hype balloon. 'Encouraging kids to blow off schoolwork to write apps, or skip college to become entrepreneurs, is like advising them to take their college money and invest it in PowerBall,' Jerry Davis, Wilbur K. Pierpont professor of management at the Ross School of Business and the editor of Administrative Science Quarterly, wrote in that column. 'A few may win big; many or most will end up living with their moms.' Whether or not the unfortunate developer ends up back in the childhood bedroom, it's true that, with millions of apps available across all mobile platforms, it's increasingly difficult for independent developers to stand out. Compounding the problem, some of the hottest companies out there for developers and programmers don't have nearly enough job openings to absorb the flood of graduates from the world's universities. So what's a developer to do? Continue to plow forward, with adjusted expectations: the prospect of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg is just too tantalizing for many people to pass up, even if the chances of wild success are smaller than anyone rational would like to admit."

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USB Reversable Cable Images Emerge

Wed, 02/04/2014 - 22:05
Lucas123 writes: "A presentation released today by Intel revealed images of the USB 3.1 Type-C cable and connectors, which is symmetrical and will no longer require a user to correctly orient the plug. Initially, the USB 3.1 Type-C specification will support up to 10Gbps data transfer speeds. The Type-C connectors resemble those of Apple's Thunderbolt cabling in that they are much smaller than today's USB SuperSpeed connectors. The receptacle opening is 8.3mm x 2.5mm.The first iteration will have a 5 volt power transfer rate, but it is expected to deliver up to 100 watts for higher power applications in the future."

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NASA Halts Non-ISS Work With Russia Over Ukraine Crisis

Wed, 02/04/2014 - 20:21
An anonymous reader writes "The Verge reports on an internal memo from NASA indicating that they've suspended all contracts and activities with Russia that aren't involved with operating the International Space Station. Quoting: 'Given Russia's ongoing violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, until further notice, the U.S. Government has determined that all NASA contacts with Russian Government representatives are suspended, unless the activity has been specifically excepted. This suspension includes NASA travel to Russia and visits by Russian Government representatives to NASA facilities, bilateral meetings, email, and teleconferences or videoconferences. At the present time, only operational International Space Station activities have been excepted.' NASA Administrator Charles Bolden argued recently that our dependence on Russia for putting astronauts into space needs to end."

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Book Review: How I Discovered World War IIs Greatest Spy

Wed, 02/04/2014 - 19:39
benrothke (2577567) writes "When it comes to documenting the history of cryptography, David Kahn is singularly one of the finest, if not the finest writers in that domain. For anyone with an interest in the topic, Kahn's works are read in detail and anticipated. His first book was written almost 50 years ago: The Codebreakers – The Story of Secret Writing; which was a comprehensive overview on the history of cryptography. Other titles of his include Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-Boats Codes, 1939-1943. The Codebreakers was so good and so groundbreaking, that some in the US intelligence community wanted the book banned. They did not bear a grudge, as Kahn became an NSA scholar-in-residence in the mid 1990's. With such a pedigree, many were looking forward, including myself, to his latest book How I Discovered World War IIs Greatest Spy and Other Stories of Intelligence and Code. While the entire book is fascinating, it is somewhat disingenuous, in that there is no new material in it. Many of the articles are decades old, and some go back to the late 1970's. From the book description and cover, one would get the impression that this is an all new work. But it is not until ones reads the preface, that it is detailed that the book is simple an assemblage of collected articles." Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.

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FWD.us Wants More H-1B Visas, But 50% Go To Offshore Firms

Wed, 02/04/2014 - 10:10
theodp writes: "On the day the U.S. began accepting H-1B visa applications for FY2015, Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC stepped up its lobbying efforts for more tech visas even as ComputerWorld reported that the major share of H-1B visas go to offshore outsourcing firms that use visa holders to displace U.S. workers. 'The two largest H-1B users,' notes ComputerWorld, 'are Indian-based, Infosys, with 6,298 visas, and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), with 6,258.' ComputerWorld adds that food and agricultural company Cargill is outsourcing IT jobs to TCS, including 300 in Minnesota, the home of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, sponsor of the I-Squared Act of 2013, which would allow H-1B visa caps to rise to 300,000 annually."

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Social Media Becomes the New Front In Mexico's Drug War

Wed, 02/04/2014 - 07:09
An anonymous reader writes "The drug cartels operating in Mexico have often been compared to large corporations, with their own codified leadership hierarchy, recruitment methods, and accounting practices. But part of any big corporation's playbook is a marketing/PR plan. The cartels have long operated a version of those, too, by threatening journalists and killing civilians who speak up. Like any corporation these days, the drug cartels have recognized the power of social media, and they're using it more and more to propagate their messages of intimidation and violence. Quoting: 'Six days after Beltran Leyva's death, gunmen murdered family members of the only Mexican marine killed in the apartment complex siege — including the marine's mother. That same day, a fire was set at a nearby school where a banner was flown, warning that more killings would follow if the federal government made any further attempts to interfere in cartel actions. Photos of the school were then tweeted and shared in status updates — a reply to images of Beltran Leyva's corpse being shared on social media.'"

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Should Patients Have the Option To Not Know Their DNA?

Wed, 02/04/2014 - 05:04
An anonymous reader writes "Genome sequencing is getting faster and cheaper every year. This article points out that in the not-too-distant future, a DNA test will be a common diagnostic tool for doctors. It's a good thing for figuring out what's wrong with you — but there will unintended consequences. The test will also return information about conditions and diseases you're likely to get, which will spur more frequent testing — which can be extremely uncomfortable and/or expensive — as well as more frequent worrying. Should people be able to opt-out of this knowledge? Even if they do, should the information go into the patient's medical record? It likely will, and then the next doctor may be in the difficult position of not knowing what she can discuss with the patient. A new decision from the American College of Medical Genetics has recommended giving patients the option of not having the information gathered at all. It can get more complicated, too: '[G]eneticists and bioethicists are already discussing scenarios where patients may approach such decisions more like a menu, saying they want to know about increased risk of heart disease but not cancer, for example.'"

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8.2 Earthquake Off the Coast of Chile, Tsunami Triggered

Wed, 02/04/2014 - 02:37
An 8.2-magnitude earthquake has struck roughly 60km off the cost of Chile. Its depth was approximately 20.1km. A tsunami has been generated, and evacuations have been ordered along the coast near the strike. Tsunami warnings were also issued for Peru and Ecuador. According to the Associated Press, "Coastal residents of northern Chile evacuated calmly as waves measuring almost 2 meters (6 1/2 feet) struck ahead of a tsunami that was expected to come ashore later. ... Chile's emergency service reported some roads blocked by landslides caused by the quake, but said no injuries had been reported so far."

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How a 'Seismic Cloak' Could Slow Down an Earthquake

Tue, 01/04/2014 - 20:31
Daniel_Stuckey writes "The United States is currently gripped in a bout of earthquake mania, following a series of significant tremors in the West. And any time Yellowstone, LA, or San Francisco shakes, people start to wonder if it's a sign of The Big One to come. Yet even after decades of research, earthquake prediction remains notoriously hard, and not every building in quake-prone areas has an earthquake-resistant design. What if, instead of quaking in our boots, we could stop quakes in their tracks? Theoretically, it's not a crazy idea. Earthquakes propagate in waves, and if noise-canceling headphones have taught us anything, it's that waves can be absorbed, reflected, or canceled out. Today, a paper published in Physical Review Letters suggests how that might be done. It's the result of French research into the use of metamaterials—broadly, materials with properties not found in nature—to modify seismic waves, like a seismic cloaking device."

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OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

Tue, 01/04/2014 - 19:37
PortWineBoy writes: "The Beeb is reporting that OkCupid is prompting Mozilla Firefox users to switch browsers over Brendan Eich's support of Prop 8 in California in 2008. Users are met with a message stating that OKCupid would prefer no one access their site with Mozilla software. Eich is the new CEO of Mozilla."

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Creating "Homo Minutus" — a Benchtop Human To Test Drugs

Tue, 01/04/2014 - 10:07
Science_afficionado (932920) writes "Vanderbilt University scientists reported significant progress toward creating 'homo minutus' — a benchtop human — at the Society of Toxicology meeting on Mar. 26 in Phoenix. The advance is the successful development and analysis of a human liver construct//organ-on-a-chip that responds to exposure to a toxic chemical much like a real liver. The achievement is the first result from a five-year, $19 million multi-institutional effort led by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), to develop four interconnected human organ constructs — liver, heart, lung and kidney — that are based on a highly miniaturized platform nicknamed ATHENA (Advanced Tissue-engineered Human Ectypal Network Analyzer). The project is supported by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Similar programs to create smaller-scale organs-on-chips are underway at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Institutes of Health."

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Judge Overrules Samsung Objection To Jury Instructional Video

Tue, 01/04/2014 - 01:19
itwbennett (1594911) writes "U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh on Sunday overruled Samsung Electronics' objections to showing jurors a recent instructional video on how patents work, ahead of a trial in a patent dispute between Apple and Samsung. The new video, called 'The Patent Process: An Overview for Jurors,' was developed by the Federal Judicial Center to provide jurors with an introduction to the patent system. Samsung's objection is to several scenes in which Apple products are depicted and used (and, by extension, seen as patentable and innovative)."

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