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Wave Power Fails To Live Up To Promise

Slashdot - Wed, 17/09/2014 - 18:46
the_newsbeagle writes: One of the leading companies developing wave power devices, Ocean Power Technologies, has dramatically scaled down its ambitions. The company had planned to install the world's first commercial-scale wave farms off the coast of Australia and Oregon, but has now announced that it's ending those projects. Instead it will focus on developing next-gen devices. Apparently the economics of wave power just don't make sense yet.

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ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children

Slashdot - Wed, 17/09/2014 - 16:43
mpicpp sends this news from CNN: In swaths of Syria now controlled by ISIS, children can no longer study math or social studies. Sports are out of the question. And students will be banned from learning about elections and democracy. Instead, they'll be subjected to the teachings of the radical Islamist group. And any teacher who dares to break the rules "will be punished." ISIS revealed its new educational demands in fliers posted on billboards and on street poles. The Sunni militant group has captured a slew of Syrian and Iraqi cities in recent months as it tries to establish a caliphate, or Islamic state, spanning Sunni parts of both countries. Books cannot include any reference to evolution. And teachers must say that the laws of physics and chemistry "are due to Allah's rules and laws."

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Logitech Aims To Control the Smart Home

Slashdot - Wed, 17/09/2014 - 16:00
An anonymous reader writes: Household devices are getting smarter these days: the so-called internet of things is bringing software-controlled thermostats, lighting, and other appliances into the mainstream. Many companies are fighting for a piece of the pie, but Logitech is taking a different approach. They're mostly known for computer peripherals, but they also make multi-function remote controls, and now they're trying to build remotes that will control all of a home's smart devices. "Logitech doesn't want to own the device, it wants to own the app experience. But to do that, it had to build a software overlay and a controller that would convince people to put it in their homes. So it's offering a $100 hub that combines IR, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and RF that will let you use the Logitech Harmony app to control gear that uses those protocols. This means if you have a SmartThings, a Peq or a Lutron hub, the Wi-Fi in the Logitech device will let you control the others' gear from Logitech, which so far seems to have a much nicer interface." They've worked out partnerships with a lot of companies that are big in the home, like Nest, Honeywell, and Philips, all of whom seem to want this extra layer of control for the user.

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Why Is It Taking So Long To Secure Internet Routing?

Slashdot - Wed, 17/09/2014 - 01:19
CowboyRobot writes: We live in an imperfect world where routing-security incidents can still slip past deployed security defenses, and no single routing-security solution can prevent every attacks. Research suggests, however, that the combination of RPKI (Resource Public Key Infrastructure) with prefix filtering could significantly improve routing security; both solutions are based on whitelisting techniques and can reduce the number of autonomous systems that are impacted by prefix hijacks, route leaks, and path-shortening attacks. "People have been aware of BGP’s security issues for almost two decades and have proposed a number of solutions, most of which apply simple and well-understood cryptography or whitelisting techniques. Yet, many of these solutions remain undeployed (or incompletely deployed) in the global Internet, and the vulnerabilities persist. Why is it taking so long to secure BGP?"

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What To Expect With Windows 9

Slashdot - Wed, 17/09/2014 - 00:21
snydeq writes: Two weeks before the its official unveiling, this article provides a roundup of what to expect and the open questions around Windows 9, given Build 9834 leaks and confirmations springing up all over the Web. The desktop's Start Menu, Metro apps running in resizable windows on the desktop, virtual desktops, Notification Center, and Storage Sense, are among the presumed features in store for Windows 9. Chief among the open questions are the fates of Internet Explorer, Cortana, and the Metro Start Screen. Changes to Windows 9 will provide an inkling of where Nadella will lead Microsoft in the years ahead. What's your litmus test on Windows 9?

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The Case For a Federal Robotics Commission

Slashdot - Tue, 16/09/2014 - 23:40
New submitter hmcd31 writes: In a new paper for Brookings' series on the future of civilian robotics, University of Washington Law Professor Ryan Calo argues the need for a Federal Robotics Commission. With advancements such as driverless cars and drones taking to the roads and skies, Calo sees a need for a government agency to monitor these changes. His paper details many benefits a robotics commission could bring, from funding to assisting in law and policy issues. The policies developed by this FRC are argued to be particularly important, as their impact in creating an early infrastructure for robotics could create an environment that lets the technology grow even more.

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Digia Spins Off Qt As Subsidiary

Slashdot - Tue, 16/09/2014 - 23:22
DeviceGuru writes: Following through on an announcement from August, Digia has spun off a subsidiary called The Qt Company to unify Qt's commercial and open source efforts, and debuted a low-cost plan for mobile developers. The Linux-oriented Qt cross-platform development framework has had a tumultuous career, having been passed around Scandinavia over the years from Trolltech to Nokia and then from Nokia to Digia. Yet, Qt keeps rolling along in both commercial and open source community versions, continually adding support for new platforms and technologies, and gaining extensive support from mobile developers. Now Qt is its own company, or at least a wholly owned subsidiary under Digia. Finland-based Digia has largely been involved with the commercial versions of Qt since it acquired the platform from Nokia in 2012, but it has also sponsored the community Qt Project as a relatively separate project. Now, both efforts are being unified under one roof at The Qt Company and the new QT.io website, says Digia. Meanwhile, Digia will focus on its larger enterprise software business.

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New Global Plan Would Crack Down On Corporate Tax Avoidance

Slashdot - Tue, 16/09/2014 - 19:28
HughPickens.com writes: Reuters reports that plans for a major rewriting of international tax rules have been unveiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that could eliminate structures that have allowed companies like Google and Amazon to shave billions of dollars off their tax bills. For more than 50 years, the OECD's work on international taxation has been focused on ensuring companies are not taxed twice on the same profits (and thereby hampering trade and limit global growth). But companies have been using such treaties to ensure profits are not taxed anywhere. A Reuters investigation last year found that three quarters of the 50 biggest U.S. technology companies channeled revenues from European sales into low tax jurisdictions like Ireland and Switzerland, rather than reporting them nationally. For example, search giant Google takes advantage of tax treaties to channel more than $8 billion in untaxed profits out of Europe and Asia each year and into a subsidiary that is tax resident in Bermuda, which has no income tax. "We are putting an end to double non-taxation," says OECD head of tax Pascal Saint-Amans.For the recommendations to actually become binding, countries will have to encode them in their domestic laws or amend their bilateral tax treaties. Even if they do pass, these changes are likely 5-10 years away from going into effect. Speaking of international corporate business: U.K. mainframe company Micro Focus announced it will buy Attachmate, which includes Novell and SUSE.

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Developing the First Law of Robotics

Slashdot - Tue, 16/09/2014 - 18:48
wabrandsma sends this article from New Scientist: In an experiment, Alan Winfield and his colleagues programmed a robot to prevent other automatons – acting as proxies for humans – from falling into a hole. This is a simplified version of Isaac Asimov's fictional First Law of Robotics – a robot must not allow a human being to come to harm. At first, the robot was successful in its task. As a human proxy moved towards the hole, the robot rushed in to push it out of the path of danger. But when the team added a second human proxy rolling toward the hole at the same time, the robot was forced to choose. Sometimes, it managed to save one human while letting the other perish; a few times it even managed to save both. But in 14 out of 33 trials, the robot wasted so much time fretting over its decision that both humans fell into the hole. Winfield describes his robot as an "ethical zombie" that has no choice but to behave as it does. Though it may save others according to a programmed code of conduct, it doesn't understand the reasoning behind its actions.

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Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

Slashdot - Tue, 16/09/2014 - 18:00
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes A new article in Fast Company suggests tech CEOs want employees with liberal arts degrees, because those graduates have critical thinking skills. Meanwhile, a new article on Dice (yes, yes, we know) posits that STEM degrees such as data science, IT admin, and electrical engineering are what science-and-tech companies are going to want for the foreseeable future. What do you think? What place do those with liberal arts degrees have in companies such as, say, Tesla or a biomedical engineering firm?

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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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