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AT&T Proposes Net Neutrality Compromise

Slashdot - Tue, 16/09/2014 - 13:12
An anonymous reader writes: The net neutrality debate has been pretty binary: ISPs want the ability to create so-called "fast lanes," and consumers want all traffic to be treated equally. Now, AT&T is proposing an alternative: fast lanes under consumer control. Their idea would "allow individual consumers to ask that some applications, such as Netflix, receive priority treatment over other services, such as e-mail or online video games. That's different from the FCC's current proposal, which tacitly allows Internet providers to charge content companies for priority access to consumers but doesn't give the consumers a choice in the matter." AT&T said, "Such an approach would preserve the ability of Internet service providers to engage in individualized negotiations with [content companies] for a host of services, while prohibiting the precise practice that has raised 'fast lane' concerns." It's not perfect, but it's probably the first earnest attempt at a compromise we've seen from either side, and it suggests the discussion can move forward without completely rejecting one group's wishes.

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NSW Police Named as FinFisher Spyware Users

Slashdot - Tue, 16/09/2014 - 10:25
Bismillah writes Wikileaks' latest release of documents shows that the Australian New South Wales police force has spent millions on licenses for the FinFisher set of law enforcement spy- and malware tools — and still has active licenses. What it uses FinFisher, which has been deployed against dissidents by oppressive regimes, for is yet to be revealed. NSW Police spokesperson John Thompson said it would not be appropriate to comment "given this technology relates to operational capability".

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Why Apple Should Open-Source Swift -- But Won't

Slashdot - Tue, 16/09/2014 - 08:31
snydeq writes: Faster innovation, better security, new markets — the case for opening Swift might be more compelling than Apple will admit, writes Peter Wayner. "In recent years, creators of programming languages have gone out of their way to get their code running on as many different computers as possible. This has meant open-sourcing their tools and doing everything they could to evangelize their work. Apple has never followed the same path as everyone else. The best course may be to open up Swift to everyone, but that doesn't mean Apple will. Nor should we assume that giving us something for free is in Apple's or (gasp) our best interests. The question of open-sourcing a language like Swift is trickier than it looks."

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MIT's Cheetah Robot Runs Untethered

Slashdot - Tue, 16/09/2014 - 07:12
An anonymous reader writes: It's easy to make a robot walk, but hard to keep it from falling over. We've seen a number of crazy robot prototypes, but they're usually tethered and/or stuck on a treadmill. Now, researchers from MIT have developed an algorithm that allows their giant robot cheetah to run around outdoors at up to 10mph. They expect the robot to eventually hit speeds of 30mph. "The key to the bounding algorithm is in programming each of the robot's legs to exert a certain amount of force in the split second during which it hits the ground, in order to maintain a given speed: In general, the faster the desired speed, the more force must be applied to propel the robot forward. ... Kim says that by adapting a force-based approach, the cheetah-bot is able to handle rougher terrain, such as bounding across a grassy field." The MIT cheetah-bot also runs on a custom electric motor, which makes it significantly quieter than gas-powered robots. "Our robot can be silent and as efficient as animals. The only things you hear are the feet hitting the ground."

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The Growing Illusion of Single Player Gaming

Slashdot - Tue, 16/09/2014 - 05:08
An anonymous reader writes: Multiplayer modes used to be an extra part of most games — an optional addition that the developers could build (or not) as they saw fit. These days, it's different: many games are marketed under the illusion of being single-player, when their focus has shifted to an almost mandatory multiplayer mode. (Think always-online DRM, and games as services.) It's not that this is necessarily bad for gameplay — it's that design patterns are shifting, and if you don't like multiplayer, you're going to have a harder time finding games you do like. The article's author uses a couple recent major titles as backdrop for the discussion: "With both Diablo III and Destiny, I'm not sure where and how to attribute my enjoyment. Yes, the mechanics of both are sound, but given the resounding emptiness felt when played solo, perhaps the co-op element is compensating. I'd go so far as to argue games can be less mechanically compelling, so long as the multiplayer element is engaging. The thrill of barking orders at friends can, in a way, cover design flaws. I hem and haw on the quality of each game's mechanics because the co-op aspect literally distracted me from engaging with them to some degree."

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Court Rules the "Google" Trademark Isn't Generic

Slashdot - Mon, 15/09/2014 - 23:02
ericgoldman writes Even though "googling" and "Google it" are now common phrases, a federal court ruled that the "Google" trademark is still a valid trademark instead of a generic term (unlike former trademarks such as escalator, aspirin or yo-yo). The court distinguished between consumers using Google as a verb (such as "google it"), which didn't automatically make the term generic, and consumers using Google to describe one player in the market, which 90%+ of consumers still do.

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SparkFun Works to Build the Edison Ecosystem (Video)

Slashdot - Mon, 15/09/2014 - 22:21
Edison is an Intel creation aimed squarely at the maker and prototype markets. It's smaller than an Arduino, has built-in wi-fi, and is designed to be used in embedded applications. SparkFun is "an online retail store that sells the bits and pieces to make your electronics projects possible." They're partnering with Intel to sell the Edison and all kinds of add-ons for it. Open source? Sure. Right down to the schematics. David Stillman, star of today's video, works for SparkFun. He talks about "a gajillion" things you can do with an Edison, up to and including the creation of an image-recognition system for your next homemade drone. (Alternate Video Link)

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Uber CEO: We'll Run Your Errands

Slashdot - Mon, 15/09/2014 - 21:38
mpicpp writes with Uber's latest plans for expansion. The future of Uber is about pharmacies and rickshaws. So says CEO Travis Kalanick. One of several avenues for expansion is in a category of delivery that's about running errands. "In Los Angeles, we're doing something called Uber Fresh, which is you push a button and you get a lunch in five minutes," Kalanick told CNN's Fareed Zakaria. "In DC, we're doing Uber Corner Store. So imagine all the things you get at a corner store...FedEx isn't going to your nearest pharmacy and delivering something to you in five minutes," he continued. Another is in emerging markets, where the company may focus on rickshaws, rather than high-end black cars, Kalanick said.

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Chrome For Mac Drops 32-bit Build

Slashdot - Sun, 14/09/2014 - 23:53
jones_supa writes Google has revealed that it's launching the finished 64-bit version of Chrome 39 for OS X this November, which already brought benefits in speed, security and stability on Windows. However at this point the 32-bit build for Mac will cease to exist. Just to make it clear, this decision does not apply to Windows and Linux builds, at least for now. As a side effect, 32-bit NPAPI plugins will not work on Chrome on Mac version 39 onwards. The affected hardware are only the very first x86-based Macs with Intel Core Duo processors. An interesting question remains, whether the open source version of Chrome, which is of course Chromium, could still be compiled for x86-32 on OS X.

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3D-Printed Car Takes Its First Test Drive

Slashdot - Sun, 14/09/2014 - 22:38
An anonymous reader points out this advancement in 3D printing. This week, at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago, Arizona-based automobile manufacturer Local Motors stole the show. Over the six day span of the IMTS, the company managed to 3D print, and assemble an entire automobile, called the "Strati", live in front of spectators. Although the Strati is not the first ever car to be 3D printed, the advancements made by Local Motor with help from Cincinnati Inc, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, have produced a vehicle in days rather than months.

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KDevelop 4.7.0 Released

Slashdot - Sun, 14/09/2014 - 17:50
KDE Community (3396057) writes "KDevelop team is proud to announce the final release of KDevelop 4.7.0. This release is special, as it marks the end of the KDE4 era for us. As such, KDevelop 4.7.0 comes with a long-term stability guarantee. The CMake support was improved and extended to ensure that all idioms needed for KF5 development are available. The unit test support UI was polished and several bugs fixed. In the same direction, some noteworthy issues with the QtHelp integration were addressed. KDevelop's PHP language support now handles namespaces better and can understand traits aliases. Furthermore, some first fruits of the Google summer of code projects are included in this release. These changes pave the path toward better support for cross compile toolchains. Feature-wise, KDevelop now officially supports the Bazaar (bzr) version control system. On the performance front, it was possible to greatly reduce the memory footprint when loading large projects with several thousand files in KDevelop. Additionally, the startup should now be much faster."

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School Installs Biometric Fingerprint System For Cafeteria

Slashdot - Sun, 14/09/2014 - 16:44
An anonymous reader writes with news about a school in England that has introduced a cashless cafeteria system that is raising some privacy concerns among some. Stourbridge students will soon be able to pay for their lunch without searching their pockets for change. Redhill School has spent £20,000 updating its dining facilities and introducing a cashless catering system. The system will allow parents to deposit funds into students catering accounts, to be debited by the pupil's biometric fingerprint scan at the point of sale. Headteacher Stephen Dunster said: "The benefits are that pupils are less likely to lose cash, parents know their children are using their dinner money to buy nutritious food and there will also be a system to alert staff if students are purchasing food that they may be allergic to."

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Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 23:50
New submitter anlashok writes: Atheism and science face a real challenge: To frame an account of science, or nature, that leaves room for meaning. According to this article, atheists have pinned their flag to Mr. Spock's mast. But they need Captain Kirk. Quoting: "I'm pro-science, but I'm against what I'll call "Spock-ism," after the character from the TV show Star Trek. I reject the idea that science is logical, purely rational, that it is detached and value-free, and that it is, for all these reasons, morally superior. Spock-ism gives us a false picture of science. It gives us a false picture of humankind's situation. We are not disinterested knowers. The natural world is not a puzzle. ... The big challenge for atheism is not God; it is that of providing an alternative to Spock-ism. We need an account of our place in the world that leaves room for value."

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US Scientists Predict Long Battle Against Ebola

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 22:38
An anonymous reader writes: Despite recent advances in medicine to treat Ebola, epidemiologists are not hopeful that the outbreak in west Africa will be contained any time soon. Revised models for the disease's spread expect the outbreak to last 12 to 18 months longer, likely infecting hundreds of thousands of people. "While previous outbreaks have been largely confined to rural areas, the current epidemic, the largest ever, has reached densely populated, impoverished cities — including Monrovia, the capital of Liberia — gravely complicating efforts to control the spread of the disease. ... What worries public health officials most is that the epidemic has begun to grow exponentially in Liberia. In the most recent week reported, Liberia had nearly 400 new cases, almost double the number reported the week before. Another grave concern, the W.H.O. said, is 'evidence of substantial underreporting of cases and deaths.' The organization reported on Friday that the number of Ebola cases as of Sept. 7 was 4,366, including 2,218 deaths." Scientists are urging greater public health efforts to slow the exponential trajectory of the disease and bring it back under control.

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The Future According To Stanislaw Lem

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 21:30
An anonymous reader writes "The Paris Review has an article about SF author Stanislaw Lem, explaining Lem's outlook on the future and his expectations for technological advancement. Lem tended toward a view that technology would infect and eventually supplant biological evolution. But he also suggested an interesting explanation for why we haven't detected alien civilizations: "Perhaps ... they are so taken up with perfecting their own organisms that they've abandoned space exploration entirely. According to a similar hypothesis, such beings are invisible because technological ease has resulted in a 'Second Stone Age' of 'universal illiteracy and idleness.' When everyone's needs are perfectly met, it 'would be hard, indeed, to find one individual who would choose as his life's work the signaling, on a cosmic scale, of how he was getting along.' Rather than constructing Dyson Spheres, Lem suggests, advanced civilizations are more likely to spend their time getting high.""

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Justice Sotomayor Warns Against Tech-Enabled "Orwellian" World

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 20:16
An anonymous reader writes: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke on Thursday to faculty and students at the University of Oklahoma City about the privacy perils brought on by modern technology. She warned that the march of technological progress comes with a need to enact privacy protections if we want to avoid living in an "Orwellian world" of constant surveillance. She said, "There are drones flying over the air randomly that are recording everything that's happening on what we consider our private property. That type of technology has to stimulate us to think about what is it that we cherish in privacy and how far we want to protect it and from whom. Because people think that it should be protected just against government intrusion, but I don't like the fact that someone I don't know can pick up, if they're a private citizen, one of these drones and fly it over my property."

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DARPA Funds Harvard's Soft Exoskeletal Suit

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 19:04
An anonymous reader writes: The military and private contractors have been toying with exoskeletal combat suits for a while, but Harvard's Wyss Institute has a new take on the concept. Rather than using a hard metal frame and the massively overpowered mechanical servos necessary to move it, the Soft Exosuit is a lightweight mesh of webbing combined with a series of strain sensors and basic microprocessors. "The suit mimics the action of leg muscles and tendons when a person walks, and provides small but carefully timed assistance at the leg joints without restricting the wearer's movement." The suit continually monitors its wearer's body position, movement, and muscular strain, providing small amounts of targeted support. The team has now received $2.9 million in funding from DARPA to refine the suit's design. They say they'll be working on medical applications for the suit as well as military ones.

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Robot Operating System To Officially Support ARM Processors

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 17:55
DeviceGuru writes: The Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF), which maintains the open source Robot Operating System (ROS), has announced its first formal support for an ARM target. The organization will add support for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, a smartphone-oriented, quad-core, Cortex-A15-like system-on-chip running up to 1.7GHz. The Linux version of ROS for Snapdragon 600 will be available in Q4 of this year, with the Android version due in the first half of 2015. The OSRF will test, refine, and fully integrate support for the ARM instruction set architecture into ROS development efforts. OSRF will also perform ongoing maintenance to support ROS on the Snapdragon 600.

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The Challenges and Threats of Automated Lip Reading

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 16:45
An anonymous reader writes: Speech recognition has gotten pretty good over the past several years. it's reliable enough to be ubiquitous in our mobile devices. But now we have an interesting, related dilemma: should we develop algorithms that can lip read? It's a more challenging problem, to be sure. Sounds can be translated directly into words, but deriving meaning out of the movement of a person's face is much more complex. "During speech, the mouth forms between 10 and 14 different shapes, known as visemes. By contrast, speech contains around 50 individual sounds known as phonemes. So a single viseme can represent several different phonemes. And therein lies the problem. A sequence of visemes cannot usually be associated with a unique word or sequence of words. Instead, a sequence of visemes can have several different solutions." Beyond the computational aspect, we also need to decide, as a society, if this is a technology that should exist. The privacy implications extend beyond that of simple voice recognition.

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The MOOC Revolution That Wasn't

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 15:41
An anonymous reader writes: Dan Friedman at TechCrunch is ready to call Massive Open Online Courses a failure. Originally hailed as a revolution in learning, MOOCs have seen disappointing course completion numbers. Coursera and Udacity, two of the most prominent online learning hubs, have seen about 8 million enrollments in the past few years. Unfortunately, half of those students didn't even watch a single lecture, and only a few hundred thousand completed the course they signed up for. Friedman says, "[N]ew technologies enable methods of "learn by doing" that just weren't possible before we could deliver immersive experiences to people's laptops and phones. In the 1960's, Jerome Bruner expanded an educational theory known as constructivism with the idea that students should learn through inquiry under the guidance of a teacher to grasp complex ideas intuitively. That process of trial, failure, and then being shown the correct path has been proven to drive student motivation and retention of learning. What we don't yet know is if that process of trial and failure can become 10x more engaging when delivered through a new medium such as Minecraft or Oculus. ... These new immersive worlds promise to hold the attention of students in ways textbooks never could."

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